Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way and the thoughts expressed are my own.
I first came across this book on a writer critiquing website where the first few chapters were posted. The fantasy world was so developed with a vast array of characters that I was surprised it wasn’t already published. I didn’t get to finish reading it and years later I was still caught up in the story, I had to know what happened! When I found out it had been published, I was dying to read it and am so thankful to have had the chance.
In a rich land full of a variety of races, we follow a handful of points of views; Wayden and Mavik, orphaned twins separated by hundreds of kilometres; Rif, a Tulkarian boy in the same orphanage as Wayden; Verica the daughter of Helos’ Head Healer; Jazlyn, the daughter of the ruler of Helos; Alaina the half-human daughter of the Skymaster, a barbarian ruler. Though it may seem like too many main characters to follow, I found it was the perfect amount, each was so intriguing, in vastly different situations and unique from one another that I was eager to see what would happen to each one.
After their mother is killed by the barbarian Sky Raiders, Mavik is captured and taken as a slave while Wayden is carted off to the orphanage in the capital. Years later Wayden is startled when someone in his mind starts talking; the soul of Grandmaster Kolram, a powerful Beast Tongue mage. All the Grandmasters supposedly died in a failed spell the same night the twins were born. Stuck with an unwanted ‘room-mate’ Wayden tries to go about his life at the orphanage, determined to rescue his brother and take vengeance on Gar the Skymaster. But destiny has different ideas and forces him and Rif together, a Tulkarian boy, the same race that killed his mother.
Jazlyn is the princess, known as the Daughter Draconi, the daughter of Dracon Niar, the ruler of Helos and head of the Red Palace and its’ religion, the Red Temple. Taught to be strong and cold, like her father, her only friends are Org her bodyguard, Verica and the other servants. Her mother died shortly after giving birth to her, leaving Jazlyn achingly alone within a palace full of people and desperate for some connection to her mother. At times she can be self-centred, as many excessively privileged people can be, but as we learn more about her, we get to understand her and witness her good qualities.
Rif has suffered just as much as Wayden, left alone and trapped in the orphanage. Now stuck amongst people who hate him for being Tulkarian, he must deal with not only their bigotry but also the Grandmaster he hosts. Hoping to find out more about how a powerful mage became trapped within his body. When he meets Wayden, he his intrigued by the bond he feels toward him and hopes to have found a friend in his new hell-hole. He was such a kind soul, too gentle for the brutality of the orphanage and I longed for Wayden to befriend him just so he would have at least one friend in the entire world.
Though Aliana is a princess, her life is anything but safe and comfortable. Part of a truly barbaric people that worship strength and cruelty, Aliana is more prisoner than princess. Her father, Gar, as the Skymaster has had several wives, every one of them killed brutally, her own mother was supposedly thrown off the side of a cliff. One thing I love – LOVED – was the winged wolves of the Sky Raiders. Their anatomy was slightly hard to understand but I didn’t mind, even the mere concept of flying wolves was epic! Like her people, she is tough and resilient, definitely strong enough to take on any challenges thrown at her.
I don’t want to ruin too much about the book, but basically as the title suggests, each of the characters hosts a soul within their bodies; from Kolram the Beast Tongue Grandmaster to Jijari a powerful Prophetess Grandmaster who uses watercolours to see the future. Each Grandmaster was very different, though each character had witty quips and amusing banter. It was one of the most consistently witty books I’ve read, truly a fun read! I have no idea how the author could write such funny characters that have such unique senses of humour without them sounding all the same.
For a new author and budding fantasy world, this novel was incredibly well developed. There were numerous lands with unique races and diverse religions from the obsessive Red Temple to the worship of legendary Immortals. There were ozacs an orc-like creature, humanoid amphibians knowns as Mantus and the numerous human races with brightly coloured haired. The vast types of magic were fascinating, Beast Tongue and watercolour prophecy magic by far the most awesome, the unique ways of viewing the future (a common ability in many fantasies) helped this novel stand out. I can see this series going on to be a popular epic fantasy and expect big things from Soul Hosts and any other future books by the author. Joseph Isaacs has a great talent for creating captivating stories, characters and worlds, he has clearly spent plenty of time developing his writing and uses lyric proses without sounding pretentious.
If it wasn’t obvious already, I loved this book! From the skilled and enjoyable writing style to the entertaining characters and surprising twists. I honestly couldn’t decide on which character I loved most, though the sky wolves and dragon definitely win the top stops! I give it 5/5 and will be looking out for chapters of the next book on the writing website!