Jack Of Souls

Jack Of Souls
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Published: December 20, 2014
Author's Twitter: @stephenmerlino
In the tradition of the Shannara Chronicles and the Witcher series: A Rogue & Knight Adventure   Harric, an outcast rogue, must break a curse on his fate or die by his nineteenth birthday. As the day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity. To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help—and a lot of it—but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts.   One of these is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming one of the Queen’s first female knights. The other is Sir Willard—ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court.   With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long?   And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is on the run and on one final, desperate quest for his queen.   Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.   Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he’s ever loved.

Assessed 

1 Review

    Assessed by Awesome Indies

    March 20, 2017

    5 Stars

    tephen Merlino’s Jack of Souls marks the beginning of an epic fantasy adventure that is thrilling, suspenseful and emotionally appealing enough to set it apart from others in the genre. This is a book where the characters are on a clock and the stakes are high. Comparisons could easily be drawn between this book and the works of Tolkien or Martin, and readers can use those comparisons to see whether or not they would find this sort of story appetizing. From there, Merlino weaves a tale of swords and sorcery that somehow finds new ways to take readers down the well-worn path of fantasy literature. Tolkien’s influence can be found in the beautifully described environments of the story and the depth of the cast of well-developed characters. This is a story with class systems, religious beliefs, magical discrimination, governmental hierarchies and societal infrastructures that the author has taken great care to explain in interesting detail. The comparison to Martin is mostly drawn because the Tale of Fire and Ice series is often acclaimed for its interpretation of real-world, human stories through the lens of fantasy. Merlino is a master here, and whether its familial infighting, drug addiction or governmental overreach, the author does a fantastic job of depicting contemporary struggles in a world of curses and rogues.

    The story focuses around Harric, a cunning trickster who is set on a quest to break a curse, or else he will die on his 19th birthday. He is joined on his journey by the fierce and determined Caris and the wise but addled Sir Willard. The trio are met on their adventures by a well-developed and diverse cast of tertiary characters, and while the tragic flaws of many of the denizens of this world are evident, the author does a good job of sprinkling wit and humor throughout their sometimes bleak exchanges. The perspective in the book shifts from time to time, but it’s done in a well-structured way and the pacing of the novel will make for a smooth ride from beginning to end. That’s not to say that the book isn’t without scenes of delicious action that will get your heart racing, they are many, and readers should also be aware that this is a complex tale. Luckily, the characters that inhabit this world are easy to relate to and root for, and I think most readers will find one or two that they empathize with on a personal level.

    The conclusion is exciting and satisfying, and I don’t think it’s spoiling too much to say that many of my favorite characters made it through the final confrontation. Jack of Souls is book 1 of The Unseen Moon series, so the adventures of Harric and friends are far from over. If you’re an epic fantasy fan who likes sword and sorcery series, this should be a no-brainer. I would go further and even say that even if you’re not a big fan of epic fantasy, there will be things that you like about this book. This is the kind of story that I could see drawing in new people to the genre, and could easily be adapted for other mediums. The action sequences and dramatic tension would translate well to the silver screen. This is a book that should absolutely be included in AI and is well-deserving of 5 stars.

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