Harric, an outcast rogue, must break a curse on his fate or die by his 19th 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 on 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?
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.
©2014 Stephen C. Merlino (P)2016 Podium Publishing
Highly recommend this action-packed book. Having thoroughly enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The White Company", I'm delighted to find all the best elements here. Rushing action so well written you can feel the arrows fly by and damp, dangerous fog on your face. The dialogue from assorted colorful characters is natural and beautifully acted by Wyndham. Brilliant interpretation of the characters.
The rhythm and fast pace moves along and doesn't bog down. There's enough dialogue to keep the relationships clearly understood but not slow the story's headlong action. The technical aspects of arms and battle is wonderfully executed. If this was a movie, the Second Unit Director would have an Oscar.
I have just discovered Mr. Wyndham's remarkable talent and will be looking for other books he's lent his considerable skill to. If Andrew Wyeth's book illustrations had voices, they would've been Wyndham's.
I'm particularly impressed that the opening 10 minutes hooked me so thoroughly. A book and its characters usually take a chapter to grow on me, but this is not the case with The Jack of Souls. It's the sort of performance that begs a binge-listen leaving chores undone and appointments missed.
I am very much looking forward to more of Wyndham's voice and Merlino's well written adventures.
This is one of those books that you wish had been released together with its sequel. It was a creative and detailed slow start. Oddly, I like those ones because I'm in for the 'long haul' listen. With the amount of creativity showing in the world Merlino is introducing to us, it must be given enough time to define the very different and very incredible alternate universe. This gives me flashbacks to The Fellowship of the Ring mostly because it's just the main characters getting to know each other and an introduction to the players and a feel for the story. It is not "the story", it is the beginning of the story.
I know book lengths are limited - especially for first books but I found myself at the end saying, "It's over? It just started..." I will surely listen to the next one, but I would say a lot rides on the quality of the next story, its going to have to hit the ground running after so much groundwork has been laid.
I love the characters, the ideas behind them, their source of power in all aspects and the world they live in. The one drawback to the book was that I didn't feel like it was well-edited. There were scenes that seemed to be in the wrong place, or backstory information missing during an event that would have added clarity to the event, but wasn't given to you until later, with no obvious reason for it to be withheld. Some scenes roll into others well, and some have no flow, but just jump forward (or sideways) without giving the reader a chance to re-orient. By the way, I bought this book because I like the narrator, couldn't have chosen a better one for Jack of Souls. And the laugh-out-loud moments are by far five stars.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the story, because I so love a good story.
Alex Wyndham's performance was perfect for this truly great read. I love the story line, the character development and the world that Stephen Merlino provided for us. You won't be sorry if pay full price for this
I loved this book, and am looking forward to the next one from this author. So glad I found him now with a whole career to follow!
A dead but not gone queen's seer advisor, her tormented bastard son hoping to save his life and escape her after-world grip on him, a horse-touched female would-be knight in the GoT Brienne of Tarth vein who has unknowingly put on a love charm ring binding her to the bastard son, Immortal warriors, magicians, magical horses whose blood bestows immortality to the drinker, and all this and more placed in a setting of multi-empire conquest.
Stephen C. Merlino wonderfully spins an odd tale that includes interesting, if more than a bit odd, characters encountering thrilling and harrowing episodes on their path to save a queen and her kingdom. Alex Wyndham's excellent performance narrating the novel makes it difficult to easily find a spot in which to stop.
Where is book two? Seriously. ;)
I really enjoyed this book and was so disappointed when I looked for the next book and there was none to be found!
I don't believe in giving a whole plot summary, but I will tell you a few things I loved about this book.
1. I really liked the world that he built. There is a class system represented by the different colors people wear, which has been done before, but Mr. Merlino uses a unique and fresh perspective that sets it apart from others. It also takes place in a land divided over the use of magic and divided by different races.
2. The characters are great! Maybe it's just my opinion, but of the 5 "good" characters, I absolutely can not pick a favorite. There is something different and remarkable about each of them and, I hate to admit it, but I became emotionally invested in all 5!! :)
3. And lastly, so as not to bore you, this book has the potential to become a phenomenal series! I'm kind of on the fence about whether it left us with a cliffhanger...you'll have to decide that for yourself. Personally, I prefer to think that the author's ending has left a myriad of ways in which to continue the series...and I for one, will be waiting impatiently!!
I put this book down several times. It is not something you can binge listen to, and its not something you can multi-task with. The reasons are not directly apparent to myself, but the combination of the readers tones and the complexity of the language and speech patterns are probably the guide posts. The story does not resolve much at the end of the book. This tickles a pet peeve and I subtract a star for that. On the plus side, the world has a nice color and works the imagination in unique ways. Will I buy the next book in the series is questionable, but I will probably sample part of them should boredom grow.
"Very good story"
The characters. Each one was fully fleshed out from the main protagonists to the secondary ones. All had foibles which were excellently depicted.
Yes I have and he has a wonderful range of voices and perfect delivery. Great performer.
Can't wait for the next one.
"Confusing and hard to get into, not good"
I found this so confusing, contradictory and unlike fantasy adventure stories that the description makes it out to be (classic ones etc.). Two hours in and still I didn't know who the main characters were, what the goal was. Maybe if you like game of thrones, but for those who like only a few/one main character, this is just a struggle to get into. Narration was good. I am sure some people will like it, heck, I really wanted to.
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