Soul of the World. Book Review

SOUL OF THE WORLD by David Mealing
Orbit, p/b, 640pp, £12.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Sarresant nobles are her subjects, Lord Revellion in particular, and pictures of them always sell well. Sarine captures them in their play. Unseen, she hides herself well; after all, the likes of her would never be allowed into the grounds of the Royal Palace of Rasailles. It is a good job her Faith and her faithful companion, Zi, keep her well concealed as she works, yet the arrival of a priest signals her time to leave, magics or no.

Arak’Jur is hunter and protector of his tribe. The Sinari seeks the gift of ipek’a to protect his people, yet it is past time he took an apprentice and prepared to hand his mantle onto another. The shamans do not see everything, but Arak’Jur sees the coming of the fair-skinned man well enough, even if he does not see what this arrival will truly mean.

In Soul of the World we are granted three main characters who all take point of view roles, and three different magic systems – binding, tribal magic and powers granted by companions such as Zi. The principal characters themselves are well formed and every reader will find one in particular that speaks to them.

To take the magic systems; however, there are difficulties. That they are all three unique, from different origins, and that their intricacies and the explanations of their usage and capabilities are kept quite a mystery from the reader will appeal greatly to some, but for others their lack of grounding and the limited detail provided about what they are and how they work will be a barrier to complete immersion in the story – you could argue that only through true understanding can come true empathy.

In this series opener of an epic scale the author brings us a pleasantly not too unfamiliar world on the brink of a civil war with an underlying danger, but unfortunately there is a sense that it is all too big – there is too much happening and the level of exposition that makes it into the book is not quite enough for the reader to fully connect, which is a great shame because in terms of concept, setting and initial promise it is rich and appealing.