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Review: ‘A Soul for Vengeance’, Book 3 of the Soulbearer Trilogy, by Crista McHugh

May 7, 2013

A Soul for Vengeance coverPrince Kell, Third Prince of Ranello, finally makes his way home from Gravaria. As he sails over the sea, he grows more anxious about the reports he received saying Thallus, a neighboring country, had invaded his homeland. He tried everything he could to persuade Arden Lesstymine, the Soulbearer of the chaos god, to return to their homeland with him, but she could not travel before her training at controlling the god was complete. When Prince Kell finally arrives in Ranello, he finds his country in ruins and nearly all his family murdered by the Thallian invaders–including his father, the king. Without family and without authority, Kell is driven by a sense of anger and vengeance to regain his throne. Along the way, he is taken in by the Ranellian rebel leaders, including Zara.

Zara fought for months to free her people, yet they still remained under the thumb of the invaders. She gained the respect of her fellow rebels and worked hard to plan the mission that would bring Kell to the rebel camp. When he finally joins her people, Zara fights her growing attraction to the prince, convinced that a relationship with Kell would be out of the question. As she takes Kell through the rebel way of life and plans the saving of Ranello with him, she finds herself more and more attracted to the prince–and he obviously returns her attraction. But one thing stands in Zara’s way: a yellow-haired witch safely stowed away in Gravaria.

Meanwhile, in Gravaria, Arden Soulbearer struggles with Loku, the chaos god bound in her body. He wants more freedom, and is willing to do anything to get it. Arden, however, finds out that Devarius Tel’Brien, or Dev, no longer wants to be her Protector. Faced with losing the man she loves, Arden runs away from the Mages’ Conclave, even while her control over Loku grows weaker. On top of losing Dev, no one will tell her of the events in her homeland, and she has lost contact with Kell. Determined to make it home at any cost, Arden makes her way to the sea–but on the way, Loku forces Arden to hide out in her father’s castle, which holds a dangerous secret that could threaten the world.

My Thoughts: What a great finale! I am sad that this story is all wrapped up now, but what a way to go! I thought this book was excellent and a great way to end the trilogy. The ending was very satisfying and I felt like events worked out both as they needed to and in ways the reader wanted–so a win-win all the way around.

I feel like most of the book is really about Kell. He featured so little in the second book, and I didn’t expect him to show up as much as he did in this one. There were times when I would finish a chapter and move to the next and be disappointed that it was about Kell rather than Arden. However, Kell was not one of my favorite characters. He did really grow on me in this installment though, as I thought he matured quite a bit and developed in a way that made him a much more palatable person. I eventually found his story as interesting and emotional as I found Arden’s, and I ended up really liking Kell.

Zara, the new character, is fascinating and lovely. I love both of the female leads in this book (Arden and Zara). Zara is very different from Arden and appeals in a different way. She’s fiery and fiercely independent, and for a Ranellian woman, that’s saying something. Her brother and only remaining family is Bynn, Kell’s best friend. Even after everything she had been through, Zara remained a strong woman.

A lot of the focus of this book is taken off Arden and Dev, I think mostly because their story had progressed so much in the previous book. These two appear most in the beginning and the end, with a bit in the middle.  While this was a little frustrating because I like these two so much, I also understand that Kell’s story needed to be told and interwoven with Arden’s, and that couldn’t happen if all the focus was kept on Arden. So if any readers are expecting an Arden-heavy story, you won’t find that here.  Dev is the same old Dev, reliable and protective.  The situation presented at the end of book 2–Dev asking to be released from his role as Protector–is addressed, but I actually don’t think it gets resolved.  It’s a pretty minor issue because of everything else that happens, but I don’t recall that we get a resolution to the Protector issue.

Arden, or Trouble (though she mostly goes by Arden in this book), struggles a lot more here with Loku and his bid for freedom. A secret in her father’s castle leads to some interesting escapades, and the encounter with her father is itself an adventure.  She does a bit more growing in this book and loses some of her relationship with Loku, but in turn gains what is essentially her new family.  Loku, unfortunately, turns into a gigantic jerk and forces Arden to either take action or let him take over, which is unfortunate because I really liked his commentary on things.  I suppose I shouldn’t be super surprised at Loku–he is the god of chaos, after all–but I thought things were getting on rather well until they reached this point in Vengeance.

As for plot, I found it interesting and well-done, as was the pacing. I was glued to my screen reading for hours and only stopped because I needed sleep and all that boring stuff like work got in my way.  But aside from that, I finished reading in roughly 2 days.  I was pretty much hooked on all three of these books.  As a book, I thought Vengeance did really well at wrapping up the story and the characters. As a trilogy, I highly recommend these books to any fantasy fan!

Given 5 stars for awesome characters, great plot, and re-readability.

5 stars

Buy on Amazon * Author’s Website * GoodReads

Book info: published 2013, 328 pages, ISBN 9781484027523

Copy is an advanced e-book copy.

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