The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1) by Stephen Merlino

Publication Date: December 20, 2014

 

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Harric is doomed to die by his nineteenth birthday if he’s unable to break a curse. To survive he makes some unlikely friends. His friends bring their own challenges. Can Harric beat the curse?

 

 

 

The author, Stephen Merlino, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00QI98ZZ4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1)[/easyazon_link] is a daunting work of epic fantasy. Harric’s story starts strong and is something like the wave at a sporting event in its ability to keep the reader’s interest. When an author creates a new world and characters whose backstory is in need of extensive exposition, the narrative can become a bit ponderous. [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QI98ZZ4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1)[/easyazon_link] is the first book in a series, so perhaps some of the weighty feel can be attributed to laying out a path for future novels but it certainly did little to draw this reader into its web. While technically a very well crafted work that is expertly edited, perhaps “The Jack of Souls” was simply not my cup of tea.

Each of the main characters has a big goal and a big problem. In the case of Harric, his goal is to stay alive while his problem is the curse designed to kill him. The reason that his own mother placed the curse on him was really well framed and showed Merlino’s gift. By design, Harric remained something of an enigma to this reader. He was raised to be a con-artist and the author shows him to be extremely manipulative to the extent that the reader can’t be sure what to trust while reading the story. His narrative crawls and his path, as the story progresses, really gets a bit muddled.

Caris is perhaps the best character. She yearns to be a rare female knight serving the Queen. There was a point that I wondered if she was written into the story simply so that Harric would have a love interest but the skill with which she’s framed is to be admired. She is a surprising character  and while she’s deadly afraid of humans, she is a strong character. She is an active part of her story line.

The three main characters (which include an ex-immortal), all tie back to the Queen in their histories. The monarchy and its scope is something that could have been better explored. At 352 pages, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QI98ZZ4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1)[/easyazon_link] is a bit light for its genre. The flow, while frequently slow, did not needlessly wander. Every paragraph came with a purpose.

Merlino’s world building talent is staggering. [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QI98ZZ4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1)[/easyazon_link] is not a story you will have read before. The scope of the species and dimensions are unique to the genre and hold a great promise. There are great opportunities to see things that may have helped clarify the story that were withheld, perhaps with purpose, for future works.

If you’re an epic fantasy fan, pick up the award-winning [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QI98ZZ4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1)[/easyazon_link]. While it failed to hold my interest, the novel has a number of five-star reviews on Amazon, so if this review piques your interest, give [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QI98ZZ4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1)[/easyazon_link] a shot.

Read an excerpt and buy The Jack of Souls: A Rogue & Knight Epic Fantasy Series (The Unseen Moon Book 1) by Stephen Merlino on

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Stephen Merlino teaches high-school English. He is the winner of the Pacific Northwest Writing Association (PNWA) 2014 fantasy and the Southwest Writers SWW 2014 fantasy awards.

For more information about Stephen Merlino, visit his website. You can connect with him on Goodreads and Twitter @stephenmerlino.

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