Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: Soul Stealers by Andy Remic

Soul Stealers [Book 2 of the Clockwork Vampires] by Andy Remic

ISBN: 9780857660671 | Cover Price $7.99 | 412 pp.

Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10 | Excellent Dark Fantasy

Overview: In Book 1 of the Clockwork Vampires (Review Here) The Iron Army invaded the lands of men, bringing Kell and his bloodbond axe, Ilanna, out of retirement and into the battlefield.  Graal and his Iron Army are crushing the lands of men and their Harvesters are (literally) sucking the life-blood from them.

Kell is dying from poison - as is his neice, Nienna, who has been abducted by a woman desperate for the 'cure' the Vachine can provide her dying body.  Graal has sent his assassins, the beautiful and deadly Soul Stealers, to kill Kell as well.

Kell needs to survive the poison, rescue his niece, and somehow get rid of an invading army of near-immortals.

Review: Remic steps up the gore level a bit in this one.  If you read Kell's Legend and had a hard time eating dinner afterwards, stop now, it only gets better.  In addition to the increased action and gore levels, Remic changes things a bit from his first outing in the series.  Where Kell's Legend was very linearly told, Soul Stealers alternates viewpoints considerably more - giving us more back-story and motivations of the other players in the story.

Remic didn't set out to write another Song of Ice and Fire.  The political machinations, plot twists, and motivations in the Clockwork Vampire series are fairly strait-forward.  You don't need a wall-sized map and a reference book on the family trees to keep up.  This is head-on Sword & Sorcery in the tradition of David Gemmell, Robert E. Howard, or Fritz Leiber. 

That said, you will find treachery, backstabbing, plot twists (including some big ones), and a truck-load of action.  

Conclusion: Do you need to read Kell's Legend first? YES.  The books in this trilogy don't stand on their own.. cliffhanger endings, insufficient back-story, etc.  They are certainly meant to be read as a set.

Thus, the review of this novel is heavily dependent on its predecessor. I am enjoying the series, and have and will continue to recommend it.  I found the more frequent viewpoint changes in this book a bit intrusive to the storyline and would have preferred more linear continuity.  I gave Soul Stealers a half-point less than the first of the trilogy primarily due to this.  If hardcover Sword & Sorcery with clockwork and vampires thrown in sounds great to you, you won't be disappointed, The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles starts strong with Kell's Legend and continues strong with Soul Stealers.  Vampire Warlords is Book 3 and is available now as well.

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