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Some people have the ability to convert the energy inside themselves through one of seven classical elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Metal, Wood and the mysterious Æther, the unseen substance holding the universe together.
Alongside these “wielders” of elemental energy are stoixeíon (stoy-KEY-on, Greek for “rudiments, first beings”), primordial entities that can pass themselves off as human. They are the immortal, sentient representation of the elements themselves: one might be an Air elemental, another is a Water elemental, etc. For the most part they remain out of human affairs, hiding from the world at large.
But the novel opens with fourteen-year-old Frankie Delarosa, a street kid, being hunted by a Fire elemental. She and her older brother, Cruz, are unique among wielders. Frankie can manipulate the Æther to open portals through time and space; Cruz is the only wielder in history who is able to control whichever element he chooses. This is why they are being pursued by the Eldest stoixeíon, Siava (SEE-ah-va), as he intends to use their abilities to subjugate the human race.
Underage wielders attend Sevenpointe Academy in rural Maryland. The prep school is becoming a boot camp for kids pressed into a hidden war against the stoixeíon. Led by the assistant headmaster, Professor Linden, thirteen-year-old Quincy Hart and some of the brightest students liberate Frankie and Cruz. But soon after arriving at the academy, it becomes apparent the faculty is being brainwashed by Siava, and the small town nearby is full of mindless drones trying to kidnap them. Worst of all, Quincy seems to be the link between Siava and his control over the student body.
When battle breaks out at Sevenpointe, the Delarosas flee with Quincy and his elementalist friends, Malcolm, Cadence, Hugo, Ashton, Krystal and twin nine-year-old Water wielders. They all set off on a quest to enlist the aid of Siava’s brother, Lugus (LOO-us), a powerful stoixeíon who was partial to humanity in times past. Problem is, after thousands of years, he seems to have lost his mind…
Before Lugus will help them, the teenagers must complete a number of challenges, collectively called the Gauntlet. If they make it out alive, Lugus just may have a word with Siava—that is, if their brotherly rivalry doesn’t destroy the world first.
Facing treachery resulting in the death of their friend, the elementalists’ journey takes them to wild locales, constantly pursued by the Eldest and his lackeys: from the harsh Mojave desert, teeming with giant scorpion-like Earth stoixeíon, to the Caribbean Ocean, where they face off against a monstrous elemental of the deep, to the bleak Scottish moors for an ultimate showdown against Siava. The students learn the only way to survive is if they work together and unravel the mystery of “mixed-wielding”—combining their powers together to create the fabled energy source known as the Royal.