Title: Soul of the World
Author: David Mealing
Publisher: June 2017, Orbit books
Blurb: A brilliant debut epic fantasy with a unique magic system and unforgettable characters.
It is a time of revolution. in the cities, food shortages stir citizens to riots against the crown. In the wilds, new magic threatens the dominance of the tribes. and on the battlefields, even the most brilliant commanders struggle in the shadow of total war. Three lines of magic must be mastered in order to usher in a new age, and three heroes must emerge.
Sarine is an artist on the streets of New Sarresant whose secret familiar helps her uncover bloodlust and madness where she expected only revolutionary fervor.
Arak’Jur wields the power of beasts to keep his people safe, but his strength cannot protect them from war amongst themselves.
Erris is a brilliant cavalry officer trying to defend New Sarresant from an enemy general armed with magic she barely understands.
Each must learn the secrets of their power in time to guide their people through ruin. But a greater evil may be trying to stop them.
**Most sincere thanks to Brit E. B. Hvide for a copy of this book. I won it in a Twitter giveaway she hosted**
This book was really bloody good.
Like, don’t get me wrong: I expected that, honestly. When the book first came out a year ago, I heard only a little about it but was immediately interested (I mean, read that blurb!). Anything that says epic fantasy and is published by Orbit is something I’m going after, especially if we’re getting multi-POV. But, of course, one thing led to another and somehow, I never got around to picking up a copy, even from my library.
Fast forward a year and now I’m on Orbit’s list to offer ARCs (!!), since I write reviews and they seem to enjoy them. The sequel, Blood of the Gods, in their monthly lists for request for this month. So I request it, because what better way to motivate myself to actually sit down and read the first book than knowing I have the second book coming to me early?
Then, I get lucky enough to win (!!!) a giveaway copy of the first book that Senior Editor (of Orbit) Brit E. B. Hvide hosted, in honor of the second book coming out.
After all of this good fortune, I knew it was a sign.
This was a book demanded to be read.
So, I gave in.
I just finished the first book yesterday and I’ve been trying to be good about staying on top of ARCs this month, but there is no way I’ll get the second book read and reviewed by tomorrow, when it comes out (August 21st, 2018). But Lord knows I won’t be making the mistake I made with the first book and wait so long to read it. I’ll have the sequel read by September, if I’m able to read as much as I hope.
So, until then, let me gush about the first book.
Soul of the World.
If you like epic fantasy, you’re going to love this book. It has everything you want from your traditional epic fantasy, except that all of it is…elevated, I guess is the proper word? Every aspect you expect from an epic fantasy is present in this book, but it’s just so expertly told from an obvious master of the genre that you can’t help but read this a breath of fresh air. From the moment I started reading and I met our three main point of view, I was sucked into this immersive and detailed world, its complexities shown by how different the lives, cultures, situations and beliefs were for each of our main characters. The political structure is intense and complicated, but in a good way, complicating and pushing the plot forward as each of our characters have not only an idea about what needs to happen next, but they have a way to do it, too. And they go after their beliefs and their hopes without abandon. It was impossible not to root for each of them and I definitely couldn’t pick a favorite, between Arak’Jur, Erris and Sarine. Hell, I still can’t.
So imagine my dismay, when, I get to the middle of the book and suddenly, their desires start to seemingly conflict as their plotlines begin to weave together?
Shit if I didn’t start sweating, because if it got to the point where I had to choose one of them to ultimately root for, against the other two? I’m…well, I’m wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to pick (and you’re going to have to read it to find out if I ever needed to make that choice).
And that’s by far the strongest element of this book: the characters. Their depth is inspiring and honestly, I’d love to work with Mealing on how he creates such detailed, complex, three dimensional characters who, over the course of the entire book, grow and change and are challenged and I can feel it happening. I was always drawn to support each of them, yet there were times when what I originally rooted for alongside them changed and I found that, by the end of the book, what I rooted for originally was no longer what I’m rooting for to happen in book two.
There is a lot going on in this book. And I love it. There is never a dull moment and the battle scenes? The military prowess and the way Erris thinks and works as a tactician? I will never get over that and not be impressed by how war was portrayed here. Or the entirely of Arak’Jur’s culture and how excited I am for the direction they are hopefully moving towards, because there were some aspects that I, as a woman, was not particularly fond of. Yet that didn’t detract from how fascinated I was about his culture and how much I admired Arak’Jur as a person, leader and warrior. Or the fire and passion in Sarine and what she goes after, almost in single-minded determination. The magic is really freakin’ neat (Zi <3) and then the overarching plot that really gets teased out during the last half of the book just leaves you positively itching for the second one!?!
*lets out deep, excited breath*
Friends, this book is just so, so good.
All I want is the second one.
Which, luckily for me, is sitting on my bookshelf right now.
And, luckily for you, if you’re reading this the day this review goes live, gets published TOMORROW.
But, most likely, it’s already available at your local bookstore and library, so GO READ THESE BOOKS YOU WON’T REGRET IT.