I Still Have a Soul

by Kelly Blanchard
Reviewed by SA

Happy self published Saturday! Today, I bring you the sequel to an exciting fantasy epic which I reviewed about a month ago: I Still Have a Soul, the immediate sequel to Someday I’ll Be Redeemed, in the Chronicles of Lorrek (see the first review here).  If you haven’t read the first book – spoiler warning!

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[Goodreads] Stripped of his memories and told he is a criminal of the worst kind, sorcerer Lorrek must commit one last dark deed to earn back his memories. However, he has no idea his target is family or that he is about to step into a war between advanced technology and ancient magic.

[Back of the Book] They said his memories were taken as punishment for the crimes he committed. They said the only way he can regain his memories is by killing a target assigned by them. Lorrek doesn’t know what is true or what he had done, but he decides to take the lead they gave him. He would find her, even if that means following her into the battlefield between advanced technology and ancient magic as two neighboring kingdoms clash. He will find answers. He will restore his memory, and he will kill any who stands in his way. 

Quick refresher: where we last left off, Lorrek had just given up his memories… after revealing to the reader what really happened those ten years ago, in the event that left the world thinking he was dead. He now awakens knowing none of this, at the complete mercy of king Roskelem. The king has one mission for Lorrek: to kill the assassin named Vixen.

Meanwhile, the kingdoms are at war. The tensions between Jechoram and Cuskelom have risen too far, and now it’s technology versus magic in the battle of a lifetime. Countess Veddra is still occupying the nation of Nirrorm, and it seems she has bigger, loftier goals in mind. And Vixen has gotten herself involved with a plot which may restore the very humanity of some non-citizens of Jechoram…

As tensions come to a boil, an epic battle looms on the horizon.

As with the last book, I was much more entranced by the events that took place in Jechoram than the rest of the continent. The storyline with the guardians could have been an entire book, in its own right. It’s brilliant: so creatively crafted and woven into the larger plot, it let the reader ponder what it truly is to be human.  This plot line borders on science-fantasy, a growing genre which combines technology and fantasy into one brilliant story.

There are so many different plots going on at once, it might get tricky to keep track of! But this means every reader will find a story they like – or many – and fall in love with the characters. But here’s a fair warning – don’t get too attached. It’s a war, after all, and wars have fatalities. So you have been warned!

I found that Lorrek was a bit of a… jerk, to put it mildly, without his memories. I mean, it’s understandable, seeing as how he can’t remember who’s friend or foe, who he can trust and who needs to be killed. But the result was that he wasn’t as relatable as he was in the first novel. No matter, because with everyone else, there’s so many other characters to relate to. I still hold Vixen as being one of the best female assassins I’ve ever read, and I desperately need to know what happens to her next.

The worldbuilding in this series remains phenomenal. The carefully crafted political tension between kingdoms, making the reader keenly aware of the motivations of their respective leaders, is just further evidence of the author’s skill at creating a complex narrative. The author’s strength really lies in the creation of these realms.

It is an exciting sequel, so if you like Someday I’ll be Redeemed, you’ll love I Still Have a Soul. It’s a must read for fans of Lorrek Vixen! The ending leaves me excited for more, as I can’t wait to see what direction the series will go.

 

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Someday I’ll Be Redeemed

by Kelly Blanchard
Reviewed by Sarah A

Happy Self Published Saturday! I’m so excited to share this book with you, that I spent the past week speed reading it so I could talk about it STAT – it’s quite a long book, and so full of incredible… well, everything… that I didn’t want to wait until next week.

Someday I’ll Be Redeemed is the first in the Chronicles of Lorrek series, set in a high/epic fantasy universe and infused with science fiction and technology. It’s full of political intrigue, plots, and magic, along with characters so complex they’ll have your head spinning. By the end of it, you’ll be devastated – and yes, that’s a good thing.

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Everyone thinks him to be dead–or guilty. Without a word or sighting of Prince Lorrek of Cuskelom these last ten years, all believe the rumors of his crimes, which he is said to have committed, are true. However, when he finally returns to clear his name, Lorrek realizes the only way to find redemption is to become the very man they think him to be in this time when advanced technology challenges ancient magic to war.

Musings

Lorrek’s been dead for a decade – only he hasn’t. When he appears at the gates of a neighboring kingdom, begging for sanctuary, he begins a chain of events that put the realms on the brink of war… but what really happened, ten years ago, that shattered the kingdoms?

I have to admit, at first, I was struggling to get into this book: the political back and forth is not usually my cup of tea, and took a little while for me to follow. The effort in world building here is outstanding, but the author has a lot to tell in so short of time that I felt overwhelmed by the information. But as soon as the ball is rolling, the story gets faster and more exciting, to the point where you cannot put it down.

This is especially true in the second half of the book, which takes place back before the events that sent Lorrek into Oblivion. Here, we have medieval fantasy characters coming to a realm of technological innovation in search of a cure for Lorrek’s cousin (and subsequent lookalike) whose magic has been infecting him. But no-one’s motives are as they seem, and there’s a lot more going on than anyone can realize… this for me was an outstanding portion of the book, and it had me completely engrossed.

And the ending? I have no words. Ok, maybe one – WOW.

Which is not to say I wasn’t impressed with the rest of the novel – the first half lays the groundwork, filling you with so many questions, while the second answers them, in such a way that you can’t help but notice just how intricate the plot really is. Everything is connected. And the way the characters grow and change in those ten years? Incredible writing.

Speaking of the characters, I just love them. Vix is by far my favorite: a brilliant assassin, who can be hard and cold but also adorable and romantic. There’s a depth to her you hardly ever see in fantasy women. Even the villains aren’t 100% evil – we see their motivations, we even root for them at moments.

Stylistically, the author could have done with a little less repetition: sometimes a sentence would pull me out of the story, which got a little annoying. But no matter. The story is what counts, and Blanchard has crafted a complex narrative with brilliant world building and relatable characters. I just can’t wait for the sequel!

You can purchase Someday I’ll Be Redeemed here on amazon, in ebook and paperback. Don’t forget to check out the sequel, I Still Have A Soul!