Page Count: 426
Release Date: July 27th, 2021
Series: THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE EAGLE, Book 2
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It!
Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. You can read reviews for those books here: HALL OF BONES
After devastating losses, the remaining members of the clan of Reavesburg have united under a new banner: the Brotherhood of the Eagle. The Brotherhood welcomes all who would fight against the Vorund Clan and Adalrikr Kinslayer, but its forces are still drastically outnumbered by its enemies. Even worse, the Vorund Clan are using dark magics to summon powerful warrior spirits to its side. The lone hope the Brotherhood has is its recently formed Fellowship, a small band of people who are able to access a power known as the Sight. Like all magic, the Sight is mistrusted by many, causing the Fellowship to work in secret. But as the Brotherhood rides to the aid of an ally trapped in a besieged keep, it becomes increasingly clear that only magic will stop the warriors of Vorund Clan, and that’s only if the Fellowship can muster a powerful enough runic weapon to smite the Sundered Souls.
SUNDERED SOULS is a gripping tale that manages to turn the movement of armies into a cat and mouse game. The previous book, HALL OF BONES, was somewhat languidly paced, covering several years of war and politics as it charted the rise and fall of Rothgar’s family. SUNDERED SOULS is a much tighter-paced affair; while not a break-neck charge, it takes place over a handful of days/weeks leading up a climactic battle. From page one, the reader is thrown into the middle of events, and story continues to move steadily from there. The enemy is tracking the Brotherhood’s army through means mundane and magical, adding a dash of paranoia of never quite knowing how much the enemy knows.
(And if you’re having a bit of trouble remembering the extensive cast of characters from book one, be sure to flip to the back of the book, where you’ll find a list of everyone and their clans, as well as a brief description of what happened to the major characters in HALL OF BONES. Thank you, Tim Hardie!)
Rothgar is back as the lead character, but there’s one significant change in how the story is told. In the strictest technical sense, the vast majority of the book is still from Rothgar’s POV. This time, however, there is significant cutaway to third person scenes from other characters’ POVs – but these are all events Rothgar is witnessing, thanks to his growing power with the Sight. The result is that we get a broader view of what is going on in the world, with perspectives from allies, enemies, and tangential characters. There’s a little bit of bending over backwards on occasion to explain why Rothgar is seeing certain things, but not enough to overly annoy me. In fact, given the saga-like feel of this tale, more POVs feels more natural, rather than narrowing the scope to one person’s storyline.
I wanted to take a moment to address one of my chief complaints in HALL OF BONES, the lack of significant female characters (relative to the number of men running around); I will say the representation here is a little bit better this time around. A new female shieldmaiden becomes a major ally partway through the book, and Rothgar’s sister Nuna has some good moments, even if she is somewhat frustratingly relegated to a handful of scenes (which in all fairness, makes complete sense given the plot of the book). It also felt like there were a few more women running around in the significant secondary characters tier, though that’s just me eyeballing it. Even in a male-dominated society, I like seeing women being able to contribute to the plot; I get that this isn’t as important to everyone, so do with the information what you will!
On the whole, however, I enjoyed my time with SUNDERED SOULS, and will definitely be keeping an eye out for book three when it releases later in 2022. I really enjoyed the atmospheric magic that felt right at home in this Viking-inspired world, with runes and visions and overlapping realms. The story was tighter, and the climactic battle was a harrying do-or-die (literally) experience. THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE EAGLE has so far proven to be an excellent Viking-inspired fantasy for those ready to be a little patient with a saga-length yarn.
Note: I was provided a free ARC by the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.