These two are different in many ways–one reminds me of early Rome and the other definitely the future–but both are fantasies, engage problem-solving, and are a joy to read.
- Soul Swallowers–when a young man must marry for politics rather than love, he trades his world of privilege for one of hard work, daily threats, and an unknown future
- The Godsend–Matrix for the terminally-ill but even this fantasy world has its murderers
5 of 5 stars
As I’ve come to expect, D. Wallace Peach’s latest fantasy novel, Soul Swallowers (2018), Book 1 in the Shattered Sea series, is well-constructed with addictive characters, a riveting plot, and a world I believed. In this story, Raze Anvrell, son of Lord Rydan Anvrell of Kestrel and heir to that mighty empire, rejects an arranged marriage that would strengthen his father’s power and expand their holdings. His trump card in the contentious argument that comes to a head one evening is that he has already married–and to a commoner. In short, he chose love over politics. When his wife is killed by marauders, Raze abandons his royal life for the world of a laborer, choosing drunken brawls and hard work over a luxurious life of privilege. Life leads him to the farming freehold of a good man who is gathering like-minded individuals to help him live out his dream. Raze becomes, if not happy, at least content. When this good man dies, Raze swallows his first soul in a maybe desperate attempt to gather this man’s peace and tranquility, his vision of life, even his moral purpose and respect for all around him. When Raze’s brother seeks him out, not to return to the family but in friendship, it seems to be the nexus for change in Raze’s world.
As we travel with Raze through about a decade of his life, fight slavers, befriend a witch, cross paths with spirits of the dead, and ultimately reconnect with the woman he was promised to, the intrigue and mystery never ends. Raze’s world, though fantasy, is so realistic, I found myself subconsciously trying to figure out where in time and place it could be, knowing–of course–it was nowhere. At the root of this story is redemption, forgiveness, and family. Maybe mostly family.
Some of the great lines I found–and have come to expect in Diana’s writing:
“…brushed by the sea in hues of silver and slate, the sun swallowed by masses of churning clouds.”
“He’d kissed her and lost his grip on the boundaries framing his life, heart swept sideways and head muddled.”
“The weight of his loss drenched the very air and pressed on the clouds until they ripped open.”
My one sentence summary: I’m ready for Book 2.
Update: Book 2 of the Shattered Sea series, The Legacy of Souls, is out! I’ll be reviewing it soon.
by AC Flores
AC Flory’s Godsend, Book 2 in the Innerscape cycle, picks up after Miira Tahn’s new life begins in the Innerscape world. Innerscape is a virtual reality world where super rich terminally-ill or fatally-damaged super-rich people live out their lives in a fantasy world of their choosing, where their broken bodies fall away and they live as whatever avatar they would like to be until their illness ends their existence and death finally takes them. At that point, they evaporate from the virtual world, deleted as you might erase a character in a movie. Think The Matrix for a select set of people but unlike Matrix, they know their lives are fabrications. They just don’t care because it is so much better than reality.
The story follows Miira Tahn, a fifty-four-year-old woman who’s body is so ravaged by illness she lives every day in pain. In Book 1 of the cycle (Miira), we see Miira Tahn enter Innerscape’s virtual world, gladly paying its exorbitant fee for peace and happiness in her final days. In this second book, she ends up crossing paths with real-world criminals who are chasing another Innerscape resident, one called Burning Man. He is a whistleblower who was badly burned after exposing one man’s crimes again hundreds of people. Now, his enemies want him killed before he finds a way to tell more of their secrets. He lives at Innerscape, the only place where his horrendously burned body does not leave him in horrible pain. His enemies use a mother’s love for her son, the emotional attachment of a disgraced genius for Miira Tahn, and finally Tahn herself in their effort to track down Burning Man. By the end of this second book, you will have no choice but to read the conclusion.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature collection. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.