Soul Stones Series by T.L. Branson

Midnight Blade (Soul Stones, #0.1) available for purchase on Amazon

This is the first of the four prequel stories to the upcoming series. I was curious about this story and this author. This is not my usual preference, but I was open to new literary experiences, and I gave it a try. I am so incredibly glad I did! And I am so glad I waited for all four stories to be out before I started reading because I could not stop!

First of all, the author is an amazing story teller and a writer. The story is gripping, interesting and beautifully written. It is all happening in a masterfully created world populated by well developed characters. The author has even provided a map of the world (scroll down – Map of Aralith). And the author made me care about the characters. He made me care a great deal what happens to them, especially when it comes to Callum and Drygo.

Callum and Drygo, and their friendship,  are the focus of this story, two kindred souls on the opposite sides of society, like pauper and the prince, two young men in dire need of someone to care for them as persons, and someone they can trust. As opposed to Drygo, Callum has had an exceptionally difficult life, an orphan, abandoned by his mother as a baby, not knowing anything about his parents, and currently in a service of a corrupt warlord as a disposable swordsman. Callum’s pure soul and exceptional swordsmanship get the attention of the right person and his life finally attains some meaning. Nothing good lasts forever, so this newly acquired meaning is tried and tested in a truly epic way.

There are numerous other characters of greater or lesser importance and they are all well developed. The battle scenes are impressive and the story itself is full of action. Descriptions are so vivid, not just battles, but everything, that I could see it clearly in my head. Reading this book was an amazing experience. And again I have to mention the connection I felt with the characters. The story had me glued to my Kindle from first to last page and I immediately continued with the next.

Kingsbane (Soul Stones, #0.2) available for purchase on Amazon

This story skips a few years ahead and starts when everyone is a bit older, more serious, and adjusted to their new roles in life. Callum and Drygo take a back seat in this story, as it focuses on Ocken, one of Drygo’s royal guards, and Khate, sister of Evelyn who we met in the previous book.

Four of them, accompanied by several other guards, embark on a dangerous journey to find a legendary stone, one of the stones belonging to forgotten Gods, which is said to heal all maladies. This journey is not only dangerous, but is said to be impossible to survive, however, desperate times call for desperate measures, and since all else failed they decide to try one last hope.

It is nice that the author is introducing characters in this manner and focusing most of his attention on only two of the characters, but without neglecting the development of the other characters. The author’s writing is fantastic, and it has a very nice flow to it. Vivid descriptions bring the landscapes closer and battles more brutal.

Maybe it is the maturity of the characters, or the seriousness of their roles, but this story, unlike the previous one, has a very serious and ominous vibe, which is strange, because Callum is much safer than before when  he was constantly on the verge of being killed. But this story has a more of a life and death feel to it. Maybe it is because we finally get introduced to mythical creatures and ancient magic. Or maybe it is because things do not always go according to a plan. The abrupt ending emphasises the loss, sadness and a sort of helplessness.

This story carries certain sadness and painful realism of loss not usually present in fantasy, which is further emphasised by an abrupt ending. It adds to the originality of the story and plausibility of the plot. It should be noted that this story reads as one with the Ash and Steele and the two need to be read in order in order to get the best out of the reading experience.

Ash and Steel (Soul Stones, #0.3) available for purchase on Amazon

This story continues immediately after Kingsbane and should not be read before Kingsbane. It is much shorter than the other because it only covers events of several days. The focus shifts back to Drygo and Callum as they defend themselves from King Rommel of Havan, again. As any great strategist, Rommel is once again using a moment of weakness for his never-ending advances.

Fortunately, Drygo’s grief becomes anger and in that sense productive tool for defence of his Kingdom. Callum remains by his side as they fight against oppression and become oppressors themselves. A secret is revealed that justifies Drygo’s obsession and disperses any doubts Callum might have had about serving his King and his friend. As Drygo pointed out several times throughout the books, what might have started and solidified as loyal friendship will always take second place to duty.

Soul Siphon: Set includes four books: Midnight Blade, Kingsbane, Ash and Steel, Sentinels of the Stone (Soul Stones) available for purchase on Amazon

This box set contains the first three stories (Midnight Blade, Kingsbane, Ash and Steel), and Sentinels of the Stone, not published previously. Although it contains four short stories, this set reads like one book in three parts, each part describing a period in the lives of the main characters, with focus shifting back and forth between the four of five main characters, and giving a good background to the story, legends, and the characters.

Sentinels of the Stone skips ahead five years after Ash and Steele and shows how much the things have changed, and focuses on Drygo, Ocken and Riley, a new and very interesting character. By this time, Drygo has been overtaken by grief for a long time and his obsession with the stones has long ago crossed the line of madness. His one focus has destroyed cities and kingdoms and the story starts when he is attacking Riley’s kingdom. Her mother, the Queen, gives her the stone and sends her on the way with a guard, a guard none other than Ocken who could not deal with Drygo’s obsession and left years ago.

This story is about the hunt for the stone in Riley’s keep and the confrontation between several characters who have not seen each other in years. Callum stayed loyal to Drygo, of course, but Ocken and Khate did not, and they have no seen each other during this time. Riley adds to the dynamics, as she becomes Ocken’s permanent responsibility.

The ending in not final, and some things have purposefully left unanswered, which means that reading the next book will be additionally exciting. I have a feeling that the answers will come gradually and I am looking forward to finding them.

Soul Render (Soul Stones, #1) available for purchase on Amazon

This was, without a doubt, the most exciting book I have ever read! I don’t ever remember experiencing a roller coaster of emotions on such an epic scale. The author does not let a reader come up for breath, the book is so incredibly intense.

This is a non-stop action packed adventure full of interesting characters, original ideas, epic battles, love, loss, friendship and betrayal. Too much happens to be described in just a few words, every page is full of new developments and every word counts. The author has done an amazing job in developing the characters and building the world. Although not lavish in his descriptions, the author managed to present a three-dimensional vivid world full of realistic three-dimensional characters.

The book is incredibly well written in the same style as the origin stories, and towards the end of the book, the author beautifully brings the reader to the beginning, and all the puzzles fall into place. As I mentioned before, the author does not practice use of cliches in order to placate the reader but instead follows the plausible realistic approach that might seem harsh at times, but improves on the reading experience.

Will is the new character and the main protagonist of the story, although there is an array of new and already familiar wonderful characters, Maya Riley, Ocken, Drygo, Robert, Jade and several others. Will’s love, selflessness and determination have won me right away, and although he was not infallible and did make many mistakes, I could not help but cheer for him from beginning to the end.

This was an amazing book, and although mostly resolved towards the end, the author leaves an opening for a continuation, and I cannot wait to read the next book.

Soul Shade (Soul Stones, #2) available for purchase on Amazon

And thought that the previous book was the most exciting book… I have no idea how the author did it but this book was even better, more exciting, with more twists and turns, and shocking revelations. And this book ends on a cliffhanger, or several of them. I loved every second of it and I will be cheering the author to give us the next book as soon as possible. Gripping read is not even the proper way to describe this series.

The author’s writing style is still consistent and unchanged which made me incredibly happy. He has a way of being ruthless and brutal with his characters, and go with the story, no matter where it takes him, and no matter what happens to the characters in the process. Will, Robert, Khate, Ocken, and Maya are going through trying times, at times separately and times together. Some great new characters are introduced and become integral part of the story, some of the familiar characters show up for a surprise appearances, secrets are revealed, more soul stones are uncovered, Gods join the party, and battles are epic!

The plot is so intricate, so detailed, and so beautifully consistent, I don’t have enough words of praise for the author. And for me, the best part was when puzzles started falling into place and all the short prequels started making sense, and the initial stories made the full circle. There were so many details that I did not expect, and reading this book was just a roller coaster of emotions and a highly exciting adventure. Thank you T.L. Branson for this epic masterpiece!

Soul Spark (Soul Stones, #2.5) not available for purchase yet

Announced.

Soul Seer (Soul Stones, #3) not available for purchase yet

Announced.

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Sellswords: Sword for Hire (Episode 1) available for purchase on Amazon

Currently reading, review coming asap.

Sellswords: Accidental Assassin (Episode 2) available for purchase on Amazon

Currently reading, review coming asap.

Sellsword: Death Marked (Episode 3) available for purchase on Amazon

Currently reading, review coming asap.

First three Episodes are available on Amazon as a box set Sellswords: Volume 1

Sellsword: Captain’s Folly (Episode 4) available for purchase on Amazon

Currently reading, review coming asap.

Sellsword: Unlikely Allies (Episode 5) available for purchase on Amazon

Currently reading, review coming asap.

Sellsword: High Treason (Episode 6) available for purchase on Amazon

Currently reading, review coming asap.

Sellsword: Retribution (Episode 7) available for purchase on Amazon

Next four Episodes are available on Amazon as a box set Sellswords: Volume 2

Riley and Viper

More about T.L. Branson and his books can be found on Goodreads and the author’s website.

 

Other work by this author featured here:

Author Spotlight – T.L. Branson

 

The author has created a map of Aralith for the readers.

TL Branson - Map of Aralith

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