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Soul of the World by David Mealing ARC {4 Stars}

Soul of the World by David Mealing ARC {4 Stars}

Soul of the World by David Mealing (The Ascension Cycle #1)
Published by Orbit on June 27th, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 656 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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A brilliant debut epic fantasy with a unique magic system and unforgettable characters.

It is a time of revolution. in the cities, food shortages stir citizens to riots against the crown. In the wilds, new magic threatens the dominance of the tribes. and on the battlefields, even the most brilliant commanders struggle in the shadow of total war. Three lines of magic must be mastered in order to usher in a new age, and three heroes must emerge.

Sarine is an artist on the streets of New Sarresant whose secret familiar helps her uncover bloodlust and madness where she expected only revolutionary fervor.

Arak'Jur wields the power of beasts to keep his people safe, but his strength cannot protect them from war amongst themselves.

is a brilliant cavalry officer trying to defend New Sarresant from an enemy general armed with magic she barely understands.

Each must learn the secrets of their power in time to guide their people through ruin. But a greater evil may be trying to stop them.

4 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of Soul of the World from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.


This book has some issues with sexism and racism against the Native people and romanticize go colonialism and slavery. It’s at the level where it wasn’t so obvious that I stopped reading since there was a lot of good stuff. However I have an icky uneasy feeling and I am sure readers who are better at analyzing these things will outline the issues.

That being said, the magic systems in this book are epic and the comparison to Sanderson and Rothfuss is quite deserved, which is coming from a huge fan who was very skeptical of those comps! There is lots and lots of complexity to the various types of magic so I’m not going to try to explain them except to say there are magical serpents :D.

There are times that things dragged because of the details of battles that I just wasn’t interested in, but otherwise the pacing was solid.

The setting is also cool in that it is inspired by French colonization of America, though with different labels. A major difference, however is that women are apparently completely equal in the colonies because they are expected to serve in the army, including in high positions, and seem to have all the rights of men.

However, the Native culture is separated clearly into gender roles and while this is eventually addressed, it still paints a world of backwards and ignorant Natives with spirit magic compared to white colonizers. Worse yet, at the very end we find out slavery is still part of the white culture with the appearance of a well-treated and exotic black servant who was expensive but worth the price according to his owner.

So I’m very conflicted. There are some awesome things in this book but it feels like despite trying to be more inclusive than the fantasy genre has been historically, this just perpetuates stereotypes.


Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 Soul of the World by David Mealing

© 2017, Anya. All rights reserved.

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