Jaq D. Hawkins
on June 13, 2012 :
Swordplay, strange creatures, mind communication with animals and a cheeky rogue…this is the stuff Fantasy is made of. Pool of Souls takes the reader straight into the action and the mind of Cazlina, a young girl with a lot of fight and an older brother to follow into battle. Admittedly there is perhaps too much info dumping in the second chapter, but we are quickly taken back into the tale where action rules and discovery of unknown terrain is shared with Cazlina.
I would suggest that this story is very suitable for younger readers despite the necessity of a certain level of violence when armies clash swords. The anthropomorphism of the animals was perhaps a little too human for my taste and psychological concepts were explained during action scenes more than is strictly necessary for an adult reader, yet there is still plenty of action and a few surprises along the way if perhaps a little too convenient at times.
YA readers will certainly find it well worth the read and probably look for more from this author.
(reviewed 38 days after purchase)
on Dec. 13, 2011 :
Pool of Souls, Cheryl Landmark’s third published novel, is a fast-paced adventure for fantasy-lovers, especially young adults. Like its two predecessor, the novel propels its youthful heroine from a mundane existence into a world fraught with danger, where she’ll need all her wits and resourcefulness to survive.
As Pool of Souls begins, Cazlina Narzin, dressed in male attire, and Maris, her faithful mare, are travelling from their home in the village of Rothtown through a Tolkienian landscape to city of Terrangay. Once there, Cazlina hopes to join an army massing against Saranor, the despotic queen of Janix.
Saranor’s thirst for conquest has led her to send her forces to overrun Janix’s neighbours. The source of her power is a mythical pool, hidden inside her fortress.
Her hapless prisoners are tossed into the pool, which spits back their souls for the queen to devour. Each soul thus consumed enhances her energy.
Appalled by her cruelties, Saranor’s general, Darnellis Viadon, has revolted and now heads the rebel army camped at Terrangay.
Cazlina’s older brother, Gareth, is already in Viadon’s army, and she knows he’ll try to send her home when they meet face-to-face. Ever since they were orphaned as children, Gareth has been her protector, but at age 22, Cazlina values her independence as much as her fellow citizens cherish their freedom.
Besides, she possesses her own secret magic, which she believes General Viadon, may put to good use.
But even before she reaches Terrangay, she finds that her childhood war games with Gareth have ill-prepared her for outright war. Along the route she meets an assortment of rogues and ruffians, as well as a menagerie of fantastic beasts, and her life depends on her ability to distinguish friend from foe.
The novel, at just under 300 pages, is composed of 45 short chapters, most with cliff-hanger endings. In her role as General Viadon’s scout, Cazlina no sooner deals with one challenge than she’s hurtling toward another.
Not that it’s all a white-knuckle ride. Humour abounds, particularly in the silent exchanges between Cazlina and Miris, who has more than her share of horse-sense.
And when Cazlina isn’t dodging carnivorous gremlins or stealing into the bowels of Saranor’s fortress, she’s ragging her brother for his alpha male bias or exchanging verbal darts with an unabashed thief, who first tries to steal her horse but decides he’d much rather win her heart.
Landmark’s vivid imagination, coupled with an unerring attention to detail, sweeps the reader off to a medieval world where the mythical becomes real and the unexpected becomes the norm. Pool of Souls offers pure entertainment to banish the blues of a dreary weekend.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)