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The Secret Kings (Soul Cycle Book 3) Kindle Edition
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There is no fat here, no fuss, and yet somehow Brian is able to craft memorable characters and fantastic set-pieces that bring the action to life. So many times I found myself thinking: "This would look GREAT on screen."
And that brings us to why The Secret Kings works so well, and while the Soul Cycle series is so refreshing. Here's the secret: it's FUN. The characters are complex without being mopey, there is good versus evil without being simplistic, and the twists are pulled off with a deft touch that will have you saying, "Why didn't I see that coming?!"
In other words, the Soul Cycle is everything that sci-fi, including the new Star Wars movies, should be trying to emulate. Brian takes the best elements of sci-fi and fantasy, throws them in a blender with a healthy dash of horror, and creates a mash-up that has a unique flavor of its own.
I cannot recommend The Secret Kings enough. It's the most fun I've had reading in a long, long time.
There are so many climactic moments in this book that it almost feels like too many for one story, but the author never goes too far, always keeping our suspension of disbelief alive. Every action scene was entertainingly complicated and intricate, with environmental factors and an ebb and flow, so don't expect one bland gunfight after the next.
Not to spoil the ending, but it was satisfying. It also left the door open for a return to this universe, which is perhaps best described as "What happens if you give C S Lewis a handful of Peyote and convince him Cthulhu is real?"
I will definitely return with any sequels.
The Secret Kings picks up right after Shaiel is set free to realize his ambitions of putting the entire cosmos under his boot. I remember a review saying that the entire novel plays out like a gigantic boss battle, and that is absolutely true. Our heroes spend the entire novel trying, against overwhelming odds, to defeat the god of the Void.
The plot moves along quickly and never really stops to smell the roses, which I really like. Something is always happening to push the plot forward. As a result, the book is very hard to put down. Best of all, various plot threads from the previous two novels are interwoven throughout The Secret Kings. As such, paying attention to small details throughout the previous novels makes for some satisfying payoffs.
Characters from both Nethereal and Souldancer make a return, including everyone’s favorite mercenary, Teg Cross. Nakvin, Elena join Astlin and Xander along with additional characters to fill out the cast. After reading through the first three books, it’s awesome watching the author improve his characterization. Astlin, Teg, Elena and Nakvin have surprising depth to them and really make you care for them. They have their own personalities and quirks and motivations, and it makes for some great reading watching these characters interact with each other as they cooperate against Shaiel.
In addition to the protagonists, the villains are awesome. Shaiel, in particular, is given awesome god-like dialogue. You can practically feel the cold ooze off each line of dialogue. A lesser writer would likely have ruined Shaiel’s character and turned him into something cheesy and laughable. In Niemeier’s hands, Shaiel is truly menacing in a way that few evil god-characters have been. The Anomian creatures are genuinely creepy Lovecraftian monsters that do not feel like Cthulhu pastiches. Other great villains abound, but these two really stood out to me.
I will say one thing as a precaution to other potential readers. This series is deep and does require a bit of careful reading. Simply zipping through these novels in an afternoon is out of the question. I attempted to zip through this one and found myself scratching my head a few times. Luckily, I was able to search through the Kindle version for key words, and it helped clear things up. I probably could have saved myself the confusion had I paid more attention. The series demands attention and reflection.
I’ve recently come across an interview with the author over at the Castalia House blog. After hearing what the author was trying to do with the series, I’ve come away with much deeper appreciation. I practically never reread books, much less series. But after this interview, I really want to go back and reread everything and mine the depths of this series because I plan on sharing this series with my children when they are old enough to read.
I will say that The Secret Kings was a blast to read. Brian Niemeier has created a phenomenal series full of cosmic struggles, divine warfare and otherworldly creatures. I enjoyed every minute of it. Do yourself a favor and read this unique series.
5 out of 5 stars
Most recent customer reviews
As great as the first two novels were, I was not certain how the narrative threads from each novel would be woven together.Read more