What a great way to start an epic fantasy series. A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS ticks all the right boxes providing plenty of mystery, sorcery, murder, and character development intertwined in an interesting and deep plot set amid a fantastical landscape that captures the imagination and feeds it with unique concepts and a well designed place-setting.
Caldan, a young man and master of many trades including sorcery and combat is thrust into a violent world when he's banished from the monastery that gave him food and shelter following the death of his family after an alteration with a student which almost killed him. Arriving at the large and overwhelming Anasoma following an interesting voyage across sea which introduced pirate Miranda, a character who plays a large part in Caldan's future (unbeknownst to him at the time), Caldan quickly finds himself apart of the Sorcerers Guild and later The Protectors only to loose it all in a bloody swath of death and dismemberment. Confronted with trial upon trial, hurdle upon hurdle, A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS throws everything at its protagonist developing the character and entertaining the reader along the way.
I love books that demand the readers attention and also provide multiple plot threads throughout the course of the narrative and A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS does just that. There are so many tantalizing threads left hanging that I can't wait for next years follow-up to see where author Mitchell Hogan take Caldan and co.
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A brief not on the format: As an avid reader, the structure of a novel is something I hold a lot of stock in - the ability to read short, sharp chapters or sequences with identifiable breaks is gold for that bite side reading appetite, A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS delivers (yet again) while also not bogging the reader down with fantastical jargon and too far fetch otherworldly concepts.