Title: Crucible of Souls
Author: Mitchell Hogan
Publication Date: 1st September 2015
Rating: 3/5 stars
Thanks to HarperVoyager for sending me a copy to review!
When young Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, the boy is raised by monks who initiate him into the arcane mysteries of sorcery.
Growing up plagued by questions about his past, Caldan vows to discover who his parents were, and why they were violently killed. The search will take him beyond the walls of the monastery, into the unfamiliar and dangerous chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to become apprenticed to a guild of sorcerers.
But the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths he does not fully understand. As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that will bring the world to the edge of destruction.
Soon, he must choose a side, and face the true cost of uncovering his past.
This book won the Aurealis Award in its ebook incarnation. It had a little bit of hype surrounding it in the Australian market and I was a bit excited to try it! And it was OK. I had a few major issues that just kept niggling me the WHOLE way through…. But I will still be reading the second book. I also had an AMAZING time at the book’s launch at Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney – it was a great crowd all gathering to celebrate Hogan’s achievement, as his book is published in print for the first time.
MAJOR ISSUE 1: Way too many questions are asked, but not answered. At the end of the book, we still know very very little about Caldan’s parents or the family heirlooms, which is kind of the whole point of the blurb… I REALLY would have enjoyed a little bit more information about these, even if not the whole shebang.
MAJOR ISSUE 2: Caldan is ridiculously sheltered and it turns him into a bumbling idiot at times. It was just so exasperating to have a character constantly screwing up in relatively easy-to-navigate situations. DON’T WALK DOWN A DARK ALLEY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!
MAJOR ISSUE 3: Too many voices. We get Caldan’s voice for most of the chapters, but every so often another voice pops up. It would have been fine had there been some more structure to when these other voices appeared, but they just felt disjointed as they were.
Now for the positives – the magic system was absolutely awesome. The idea of crafting an object and imbuing it with magic was really cool, especially when combined with different materials and the impact of that. The different orders of sorcery was also quite interesting, though I felt that wasn’t explored enough. The game of Dominion is also a really awesome element of the world-building. I suppose MAJOR ISSUE 1 is a clever ploy to get me into the second book, as I need these questions answered rather desperately.
While the writing itself is a little simplistic at times, the story does propel the reader along quite effectively. There are plenty of moments where we are left hanging, but that just increases my need for the next book, Blood of Innocents, out in January – luckily, the wait isn’t too huge! A worthy effort, and I am sure we will see an improvement in style over the next books.