The ancient powers lost to Potara have returned. The Brotherhood of the Black Rose rises to bring Thoth into disorder. And, while the Brotherhood reclaims their power, chaos reigns among the survivors. Six individuals have emerged from the aftermath struggling for control over their lives and a divided land. Kem and Shirin, who abolished the five thousand year reign of the Amun Priests, rule from the golden throne of the Oracle’s Chair in the Hall of the Nine. Dio and Axios struggle to piece together a resistance worthy to challenge the ancient magic which resides in the Great Temple of Amun, and Leoros and Atlantia try to remain true to their hearts and their cause despite tragedy.
But when the Book of Breathings is discovered, the path to immortality is revealed. Leoros and Kem race to capture the Soul of the World unaware of the challenges awaiting them. This time, the gods themselves will intervene.
In a tale where boys become men and girls become women, where treachery and deception are around every corner, and where primeval mysticism finds its way back from the grave, victory is reserved for neither the good nor the evil, but the powerful.
Just like in the first book, Joshua Silverman amazes the reader with the complexity of the world and mythology he created. I found the first few chapters fascinating thanks to the history behind The Brotherhood of the Black Rose, and the whole process of becoming a god. In the first book, Leoros thought he killed Kem, but Shirin saved him, and now they have been ruling over Thoth for two years. Because Kem has been chosen by the Staff of Hermes, the Brotherhood brings him the Book of Breathings, which contains the secret to immortality. If Kem obtains the power of a god, then Potara is lost forever. And, to make things worse, Leoros is trapped on Earth – an orphan thought crazy because of his stories about Potara, who cannot find a way of going back to his friends. Amazing premise, right?
As I said, the author’s writing has improved greatly. The characters are more complex and realistic, and they grow with every chapter. The book is better structured than the first one, each chapter focusing on one character. Unfortunately, in my opinion, not all of them had something to say. My heart was with Leoros and Atlantia when I read their points of view, but the other ones… they just made the action drag, with some exceptions. I’m not very fond of Shirin, but in her case I am perfectly aware it’s just me. I think many people will find her interesting and intriguing. She’s strong, determined, and so dark – I’ll give her that. If I were to choose between her and Kem, I’d always choose her. She is a driving force compared to weak Kem, who always seems to do what he’s told. So, why is Kem pushed to the front? I understand he needed a point of view because he is a main character and he’s the one who goes after the Air of the Gods, but other than that, he didn’t say much to me.
On to the other points of view: Dio and Axios. I loved Dio in the first book, but in the second one she was such a disappointment. Yes, I get it: that was the whole point – to see her defeated. When she failed to stop Kem, her pride was so wounded that she became an alcoholic. And I say “pride” because I didn’t feel like Dio was hurting because some of her friends died, or because Shirin and Kem are now terrorizing Thoth, or because Leoros is gone. No. She was hurting because she had lost her self-respect. As much as I loved Dio in the first book, in the second one she was pathetic and nothing more. Somehow, I felt that for her everything was about herself. Every chapter that was focused on her was just emphasizing that, and not once did I feel sorry for what she had become. I swear I was like: “Woman, pull yourself together, and if you can’t, just get out of the book because your self-doubt, self-pity, and lack of self-respect are getting old.”
Axios… well, all I can say is that Axios is a good guy and he deserves much more than what he got in this book. I admire him for never giving up on Dio.
What else can I say about The Soul of the World? The first two or three chapters pulled me into the story, I loved Atlantia’s and Leoros’ points of view, and somewhere during the second half of the book the action picked up enough to make me read more at once. I’m waiting for the third book in the series, hoping that the characters will be more likeable this time.