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I Belong


Review: Soul of the World by David Mealing

Title: Soul of the World

Author: David Mealing

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Ascension Cycle (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Format: Paperback, 656 Pages

ISBN-10: 031655233X (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316552332 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Stephanie

Synopsis:

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.

Quick & Dirty: Engaging characters and a fascinating world make this a long read, but a good one.

Opening Sentence: “Throw!” came the command from the green.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The world is on the brink of war, both in the physical world and on the godly plane. Unbeknownst to them, three people hold the key to determining the war’s outcome. Whether they’ll be able to figure out how to use their specific talents to do so is the main question.

This one took me a while to get through, although it wasn’t because it was bad. It definitely wasn’t. It’s just that the world Mealing has created is very complex and requires an awake mind to delve into, and I tend to read in very short bursts at night. So it took me awhile, but it was a fun journey. While I remain a bit confused as to what is going on in the overarching big storyline, the immediate storyline involving Sarine, Arak’Jur, and Erris is gripping.

Speaking of those three, for the first time in a while, I don’t have a favorite among our narrators. Mealing has a talent for leaving a chapter at a moment when you want to find out what comes next, so every time I came back to a different narrator, it never felt like my interest was waning. I may be sad momentarily that I couldn’t find out right away what was going to happen with Erris, but my excitement to see what was going on with Arak’Jur would swiftly carry me into his chapter. They’re all very strong characters, and not necessarily always likeable, which I found interesting.  I most often disagreed with Erris’ actions, but I was still intrigued by what she would do next. It takes a very talented author to make me feel that way.

As I stated previously, this world is complex, and Mealing doesn’t really hold your hand in the beginning. You find out as the story goes along how the world and magic system work. This is both good and bad, as you avoid having things dumbed down, but it can be a bit confusing at first. Once you get the hang of it though, the pace picks up rapidly.

The one negative thing is I wasn’t particularly fond of the interludes that happen in between the main sections of the books, mainly because they’re from the points of view of characters we haven’t been introduced to, so it feels a little jarring. They’re integral to the story, but it does make the pacing feel a bit off during those moments.

All in all, while hefty, this is one good book. It has a unique world and magic system, and the characters are phenomenal. I found myself not wanting it to end, and after 600-plus pages, that’s saying something. I for one am very much looking forward to the next one.

Notable Scene:

YOU KILLED HIM.

What was this? Where was she? What had happened?

Silence stretched on. Was she supposed to respond?

I killed it to save the people on the green, she thought.

HE WAS MAREH’ET. A FULL ADULT. IT WAS HIS RIGHT TO SLAY THE WEAK. YOU ARE BUT A PUP.

Mareh’what? she thought, confused.

HE WAS ONE OF MY CHILDREN. THE GREATEST OF ALL CATS. HOW DID YOU SLAY HIM?

I used my gifts, and Zi’s.

A moment passed. A feeling pervaded her mind that whatever this voice was, it was considering her, weighing her. Had she angered it?

YOU BESTED HIM. A WOMAN. THIS IS NOT KNOWN TO US. ARE YOU CHOSEN? ARE YOU HER VOICE?

Whose voice? she asked. Chosen by whom?

THE GODDESS.

There are two goddesses, she thought back to the voice. Do you mean the Oracle, or the Veil?

THERE IS ONLY ONE GODDESS, LITTLE PUP.

What? Well, her uncle and the rest of the Trithetic priesthood would have a bone to pick with that. What was this? Some kind of trick?

I don’t know whether I’m chosen, she though back finally.

VERY WELL. WOULD YOU HAVE A BOON OF ME?

I don’t even know what you are, she thought back in anger. What was going on?

I AM THE SPIRIT OF MAREH’ET. I COULD GIVE YOU HIS GIFT. YOU WOULD BE A PUP NO LONGER.

What sort of gift?

TO KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE GREAT. IT IS THE WAY OF THINGS, TO SHARE HIS SKIN.

Fine, but-

DONE.

The Ascension Cycle:

1. Soul of the World

2. Blood of the Gods (August 21, 2018)

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FTC Advisory: Orbit provided me with a copy of Soul of the World. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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