Title: Soulbinder (Spellslinger #4)
Author: Sebastien De Castell
Published: December 2018
Publisher: Hot Key
Readership: Young Adult
RRP: $19.99 AUD
I received a copy of Soulbinder from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Kellen and Reichis live day to day now, avoiding notice and staying clear of mages.
It’s a frustrating life for Reichis, who hates living like a coward. For Kellen, however, it’s a necessity. The Shadowblack on his face has grown, and the dark dreams it brings have gotten worse.
Then Kellen comes across The Order of Black Binders whose strict training and rituals of self-privation enable them to hold back the Shadowblack – and Kellen quickly becomes sucked into their way of life . . .
Perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.
I was so excited to receive a copy of Soulbinder for review, because I’ve loved the Spellslinger series since I started reading it. Full confession time: I started the series because of the cover of the first book – it’s a gorgeous, red, illustrated playing card design – and I’m so glad all of the subsequent books have had similar cover designs with changing colour schemes, because on a superficial level, they’re just stunning to look at.
The story is also pretty awesome, too.
Being the fourth book in a series, it’s very difficult to talk about the actual plot line of the story, because the spoilers are inherent, so I’ll try to keep this as clear of spoilers as I can.
In Soulbinder, Kellan and Reichis are on their own and dealing with the implications of not having close allies around them, and the book begins with them both in dangerous and dire circumstances. Kellan is on the search for a group of people to help him cure the Shadowblack and the dark dreams that it has caused him. In reality, he finds The Order of the Black Binders, people hailing from many nations with Shadowblack markings, that train themselves in the art of holding the black back.
What I loved so much about this instalment in the series was how much Kellan develops as a character. He’s used to relying so much on the people around him to help him and guide him, and now he’s on his own, and he has to figure out what he would do in any given situation. He doesn’t always make the right choice – quite often his choices have consequences – but he doesn’t let the setbacks stop him from constantly trying to move forwards. He learns a lot about the Shadowblack throughout the course of the book, and why he doesn’t have was much control over it as others might, and that further complicates his life and relationships.
Kellan’s family also continued to become even more complex – each member of the family has a complicated relationship with everyone else within the group. Kellan’s kept ties with some members of the family out of hope, despite knowing that there’s the possibility of betrayal, and yet those family members constantly seek to manoeuvre Kellan into a position to best suit themselves politically.
Overall, this is a world that is deeply immersive, with cultures and characters that are interesting and intriguing. The landscapes constantly change, and you can practically feel what it must be like to be there. The writing style is not complicated, but the world is very fleshed out. Even for a reader like myself, who’s not the biggest fan of long-running fantasy series, this is a very enjoyable read, because it feels like fantasy meets the wild west with political intrigue, monsters and magic.
It’s great. If you haven’t picked up the series yet, I highly, highly recommend it.