This book is: true epic fantasy.
Other elements: dragons, souls, a varied cast of characters united in a common world-saving quest, baddies who want to do bad things, giant worms.
Read it: if epic fantasy is your jam.
Overall rating: 6/10
My feelings about Soulwoven are complicated.
It’s a story recipe I’m totally into: diverse characters must leave their normal lives and unite on a quest to [save or destroy] something bigger than they are for the sake of the world! Along the way, they learn and grow individually and as a unit. Secrets are revealed, allies discovered, betrayals occasionally betrayed. It’s a formula I happily read over and over again, and my enjoyment depends on the delivery.
I enjoyed reading this book, but I wasn’t overwhelmed with love for it. I’m having trouble putting my finger on why, so I made lists:
Things I liked:
- The worldbuilding. Our ragtag gang travels all across their world, and the lands they encounter through their travels really do cover a diverse and detailed scope. The societies are elaborate, clearly distinct, and (mostly) believable.
- The variety of beings. It’s clear that Jeff Seymour’s mind is a rich place full of many kinds of creatures, and I loved meeting some of them.
- The young lovers. I won’t say more than that there’s a romantic relationship in this book that I particularly enjoy.
Things that kept me on the fence:
- The magic. “Soulweaving” sounds really cool, and the bits we learn about are interesting, but I wanted it to be more fully explained. I like my magic to be mysterious within a framework of logic, and I didn’t understand the rules of Soulweaving.
- Because I didn’t understand the rules of Soulweaving, I never fully understood why some people were Necromancers (bad?) and others were Soulweavers. Their powers didn’t seem to be different.
Things I disliked:
- I don’t know why the bad guys are trying to do their bad thing. I get they they must be stopped, because their plan sounds like it will really make things difficult for well, everyone, if they succeed. But why are they doing it? Even Voldemort had his motivation.
- The female characters are sort of lame. Yes, there are women with powers, but so far they’re never the most powerful person in the room. The lady who is potentially the most badass keeps needing men to bail her out at critical moments, which isn’t my favorite thing either.
- My biggest complain is also my least specific: it felt over-edited. Some of the scenes were too precisely written, too crystalline.Do you know what I mean?
- As a bizarre contrast to the previous point, some of the basic who-what-where elements of the scenes also sometimes went missing. For example, at one point everyone falls into a river. A couple of the characters make it out of the river. They’re rehashing what happened and worrying if the other characters made it out. A couple more characters climb out; okay, now most of the gang is there. Then suddenly everyone is there, with no acknowledgement that the rest of the team arrived. There were a few parts like that which left me thinking “wait, what? Did I miss something?”. They weren’t plot holes or gaping oversights and they weren’t critical to the course of events, but I found them disorienting.
So, there you have it. As a lover of epic fantasy, I thought this book was on the better end of the spectrum but my socks remained firmly un-knocked off.
My thanks to NetGalley and Jeff Seymour for providing me with a review copy of Soulwoven.