Sacred artists follow a thousand Paths to power, using their souls to control the forces of the natural world.
Lindon is Unsouled, forbidden to learn the sacred arts of his clan.
When faced with a looming fate he cannot ignore, he must defy his family’s rules…and forge his own Path.
“When a traveler cannot find a path, sometimes he must make his own.”
I had almost no idea what to expect when going into this book. I knew it was Asian inspired and that a big part of it was the magic system, but that was about it. I started this book with no other expectations other than that I would enjoy it, and oh did I enjoy it!
My favorite part about this book was the magic system. This series has been described by a few reviewers, including Petrik from Novel Notions (find his review here) as in part being homage to shonen anime/manga like Naruto. I have never seen any of this type of anime nor read any of the manga and I think this contributed to my enjoyment even more. The magic system felt fresh, original, imaginative, and just plain fun. There were so many aspects to it, so much danger if you got something wrong. If you are the type of person that really likes their protagonist to “level up” in skill and mastery of their magic by sheer will and dedication, this book may be for you.
I also really enjoyed Wei Shi (Way-She) Lindon, or just Lindon as he is referred to throughout most of the story. He is the main protagonist and practically the only POV of the book, with a few random POVs mixed in there throughout the narrative. Lindon is born unsouled which means he does not have an affinity for any of the disciplines of magic that his people practice. He is an outsider among his own people and that makes it easy to immediately relate to and sympathize with him. This is the story of an underdog and if there is one trope I can always get behind it is the underdog/outcast rising above the expectations of the people around them. Lindon is also genuinely likable. Oftentimes as outcasts characters can be bitter, angry, and downright jerks, but Lindon is not this way. He remains kind and has a good heart throughout all the mocking and bullying that he endures. However, this doesn’t mean he lets people just walk all over him either. I would like to see some more aspects of Lindon’s personality and of course continued character growth throughout this series, but this was a pretty good start.
“The foundation of any Path is learning to accept the world as it is, not as you wish or even observe it to be.”
I have seen it expressed that the first part of this book is somewhat unevenly paced because of info dumping. This is something that I do have issues with when reading and typically bothers me quite a lot. However, in this book I didn’t really notice it until someone else pointed it out. The plot does move rather slowly for the first half or so, but it is a beautiful, slow burn and I never found myself bored or disinterested. There was always something interesting popping up, some new piece of the world or magic system to discover. I think more things could definitely have been shown versus told, but this is the first book in a 12 book series (7 books published so far in only 3 years) so I didn’t mind it one bit. I also read this via audiobook and I recommend that format highly for this book. The narrator, Travis Baldree, brought each character to life in their own unique way and made the journey through learning about the world and magic system so much fun.
This was a really strong start to what promises to be a fantastic series. At only 294 pages (a little over 8 hour audiobook), it was really to finish in what felt like no time at all. Similar to the Dresden Files, people seem to all agree that the series only gets better and I am so excited to continue the series immediately. In fact, I started book 2, SoulSmith, yesterday. Let me know what you think about Unsouled if you’ve read it and pick up a copy if you have not at the links provided above. I think you’ll enjoy it!