When Malina is sold at an auction block, she expects life will take a turn for the worse.
But even her darkest nightmares are nothing compared to the reality of what she faces when she’s delivered to the Mountain of Souls.
Thrust into a brutal selection process where failure means death, Malina must train and fight not only to survive, but to prove herself worthy to serve.
The risks are deadly, but if she succeeds, the rewards are beyond measure, and a destiny unlike any other awaits as a Chosen.
“It’s the first time in two weeks that I’ve been allowed out of a small crate that confined me like a caged animal. Two weeks in a box stinking of panic, fear, and claustrophobia, my only company the desperate voices and tears of unseen others.”
Wow! The beginning is so atmospheric that I began feeling the claustrophobia that Malina was feeling. It was such an explosive start and you can tell that Lee has really sharpened his writing skills over the years. He just keeps getting better.
The Mountain of Souls starts out as a sad tale and Malina has lived a very rough life. I had to take a break after getting introduced to her past because I was so affected by all she had endured. Things do not get easier for Malina, but she becomes more powerful throughout her journey.
This book started out feeling like if you took out the Sci-Fi aspects of Red Rising and had Joe Abercrombie write it. It’s brutal and so addictive. There’s a soldier-assassin school type of setting that felt very fresh even though it borrows on elements that have long been beloved in fantasy and dystopia style reads. Though I mentioned that the intensity would make me pause while reading it, I always wanted to pick it right back up. Lee holds back nothing when it comes to what Malina has to do to get through the process to become a student of this school and it’s brilliant. I was truly unprepared for what he had in store for us.
“‘In a world where we all serve, it’s who we serve that matters,’ she begins earnestly, ‘for they have the power to either give our life meaning and a sense of fulfilment or strip everything away from us entirely.'”
There’s a bit of romance that helps cut the tension. I enjoy it when there’s a relationship to root for in even the darkest of books. It’s a reminder that whenever humanity hits new depths of depravity, love exists and offers hope. I am left wondering where this relationship will go. I don’t want to go too heavily into the reasons why, because I think it would spoil the stories for others.
Lee unwinds the secrets of this world expertly. The way we navigate through his world and learn in time as his characters are learning was thrilling. I am a big fan of where this series is going and I cannot wait to read more. Malina is at a crossroads between the good, evil, and morally grey aspects of the world she lives in and I’m quite excited to see where her choices will lead her and who will be on her side or against her.
This book was very close to a 9/10 for me and I’m not quite sure what exactly it is that kept me from giving it that mark. It was fast paced and I loved how we followed Malina through her schooling within the span of one book. I think maybe the only thing that knocked it down was that as the story went, I wanted to feel a little more depth from the characters, but there’s also a plot point behind why these characters act a little mechanically, so I am not entirely holding that as a negative. I will absolutely reevaluate once I read the next installments and see if these characters give us more emotion if/when they start making choices for themselves instead of the people who are in control.
“‘Every action you ever make, even one as small as a laugh or a smile, can have consequences far beyond what you might believe possible. You won’t always get a second chance to remedy a mistake. Do things right the first time, every time.'”
Thanks to Marcus for taking me on another journey with him and offering me The Mountain of Souls in exchange for an honest review. Until the next one!
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