What Amazon says
When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness.
Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul.
When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head.
Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.
In this completed series, epic fantasy blends with the wisdom of old souls to create a unique coming of age story of courage and honor in the midst of evil. Slavery is pitted against freedom, anger against forgiveness, and a desire to live peacefully against the necessity to take up the sword.
It’s a story of bitter estrangement and broken hearts, of deception and unfettered ambition. For Raze Anvrell it’s a journey of violence, redemption, and his soul’s growth as he transforms from a reckless youth into a man with a rich legacy of souls.
Magic, politics, love, and madness collide in this fantasy adventure. For lovers of beauty and battle, and complex characters willing to risk everything in the fight for their souls.
I was attracted to this book by its unusual title. Soul Swallowers, what could that mean? I was amazed and delighted to discover that its meaning is quite literal and one of the themes of this book is the ability of the people in the author’s beautifully constructed fantasy world to physically swallow the souls of others, friends or foes, and acquire their characteristics, skills and abilities. I enjoyed how the author explored this aspect of the book and illustrated through her characters how the swallowing of souls impacted on the swallower, changing their personality if the soul was a contradiction to their own nature and causing internal turmoil. If the soul was a good fit, the swallower would benefit hugely from this process and the two souls would eventually meld and become completely harmonious. I found this concept unique and compelling.
The author has created a world in conflict and explores the possibilities for good and evil when one culture is consumed by another. Ideas and cultural policies that work well with a conqueror in this case the Ezar, are often badly transposed and their implementation manipulated for personal gain by the representatives of the conquerors and by the leaders of the conquered, who want to retain their positions of power under the new regime. The concept of slavery depicted in the Soul Swallowers and how its initial implementation by the Ezar is twisted in the Vales to the advantage of ruthless and unruly slavers clearly demonstrates this abuse of power. The uncaring attitude of the Vale leadership highlights the distrustful and back stabbing environment that emerges in such situations. As with other brilliant works of fantasy that draw analogies with real life happenings, the influences of Tolkien’s experiences in World War 1 and their influence on his series Lord of the Rings come to mind, the author has done an excellent job of creating a world which shares interesting ideas and thoughts on problems and issue that we are currently facing with integrating cultures in our current global world.
The main character, Raze Anvrell, is the son of one of the Vale leaders who rails against his father’s wishes for him to marry the daughter of a neighbouring Vale leader and bring about an alliance of their two families. When Raze discloses that he is already married, which results in the murder of his young wife, he turns his back on his family and disappears, building himself a life on a rural farm in the Vales. The growth of Raze’s character is intriguing to experience as he goes from being a bereaved, but rather spoiled young man, to developing into a kind and compassionate man who cares for the welfare of others. Raze’s path leads him to discover that you cannot always walk away from a bad system and sometimes you have to take a stand against it.
A fascinating and well written book and one I would recommend to readers of fantasy.
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Winner of last weeks giveaway for Double Blind by Dan Alatorre
Thank you to all of you who participated last week and wrote a comment. I put all your names in a hat and Greg drew out Marjorie Mallon of Kyrosmagica. Congratulations, Marje, I will be in contact with you to send you your prize.