Unwilling Souls by Gregory D. Little

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I received this in exchange for an honest review. I think this would most appeal to people who like a mashup of sci fi and fantasy – it’s set in the center of a planet.


Plot:

Ses is an apprentice smith in an area known as “The Pit”, which is spherical complex located in the center of the Earth. It’s held together with a latticework made of Wrightings, which are magic forged items using Soul Energy and nife iron mined from the core.

Ses is in class when alarms start going off at one of the temples, it’s her turn to go and investigate since these alarms are finicky and anyone walking by can set them off. There are rarely ever any intruders, so the instructor felt safe sending an apprentice.

Ses checks out the temple and when she finds nothing, she starts to head back to her school when there’s  an ‘accident’ involving the prison. A giant explosion due to a ship rocks the entire Pit, and emergency crews are sent out.

Since Ses’s father is a wanted criminal for involvement in a terrorist organization, she’s sent away from the school so she’s not around to be accused of any involvement in the attack. The government does come to investigate, and even though Ses is gone, she’s hunted down at her grandfather’s house and forced to flee again. She has no where else to go, and since her mother is allies with the people who are hunting her, she’s forced to seek out her father, despite the fact they’ve only met once. She’s heading to the Arach Arbor, a  city built in the exoskeleton of a giant spider, where her father has located his rebellion base.

Final Score: 11/15


Characters:

Ses Lucani is 16 years old and an apprentice in the forges, she’s a social outcast because of her father’s involvement in a terrorist organization – he’s on the run and his wanted posters are up in front of the temples. She’s not over the feelings she has about it, and even kind of roots for her dad in some small way. She’s a nervous person, not all together brave, but not a coward either, more cautious than anything. She has no relationship with her mother, and a very strained and distant relationship with her father now that he’s on the run. Her grandfather is the only family she really has left, he’s a bit of a curmudgeon, but he cares for her deeply and has always watched out for her. She feels incredibly guilty that she’s brought down the government on his head.

Final Score: 11/15


World Building:

The settings in this book are absolutely surreal. The Pit is spherical, but instead of just walking their way around the perimeter of the sphere, people launch themselves straight up or straight down to cross the multi-mile expanse from one edge of the Pit to the other. When you’re doing that, halfway through your old down becomes up and vise versa

Wrightings are objects cast in nife iron and infused with Soul Energy, they can be used to fortify structures, make armor, tools and weapons etc. Wrightings are powerful enough to create a latticework strong enough to withstand the pressure and heat from the core of the planet.

The Globe is the prison to the Gods, and it hangs in the center of The Pit, always silhouetted against the magma flowing all around The Pit. It’s the most powerful Wrighting in the world, requiring excessive amounts of Soul Energy to maintain it, given the prisoners inside are gods.

There was a war 200 years ago with humans pit against the gods called the Immurement War – any of the humans that survived that war and had fought alongside the gods were marked with glowing eyes. They were the underclass of society, often called the Goddamned until the Upheaval which flip-flopped the power status of each ‘class’ of citizen – the Dims and the Goddamned, (now called the Blazers since their rise to power).

There were ancient monsters set upon the world by the old gods, a crocodile the size of a city was slain, and its bones have been turned into the structure for a new city, with people carving homes into the bones. There’s also a huge city made out of the exoskeleton of an enormous spider, with many living larger spiders surrounding the area. The city itself is inside the abdomen of the spider, a persistent musty/meaty smell permeates the city, and old calcified guts are used as tunnels to get from place to place.

Final Score: 13/15


Writing/Tone:

The MC isn’t always aware of why things are happening to her and you get to find out along with her which creates a more mysterious feel to everything. It also has a good amount of action and adventure, with the MC traveling to new and very different sorts of cities and landscapes, it had a very epic scale to the world building with cities all over the realm being created from the skeletons of dead monsters.

The writing was straight forward, definitely not a flowery book allowing for a quick easy read.

Final Score: 11/15


Pacing:

The story doesn’t take much time to build up, from the first chapter major events are happening so it’s rather easy to get into the story. I was thrown a little at first trying to get a visual for what this Pit looked like, but the more I read the more I understood, it’s just a very surreal landscape and took a bit to wrap my head around it.

Since there was just one pov, there weren’t any slow downs trying to get used to a new characters arc and plotline, things for me moved pretty quickly.

Final Score: 12/15


Originality:

I haven’t read anything like this, perhaps if I read more sci fi I would have, but this was brand new for me which was really enjoyable, I don’t get that often.

Final Score: 14/15


Personal Enjoyment:

I really liked how different this was from other things I’ve read, and how fast paced it is. Things get going right from the start so it was easy to keep myself interested. I also really love genre mash ups, so a sci fi fantasy works really well for me. It’s been really good to get back to more sci fi stuff this year.

Final Score: 8/10


Audience:

For people who like:

  • sci fi/fantasy mash up
  • single pov
  • surreal landscapes
  • huge monstrous cities
  • divided society
  • female pov
  • light romance

Final Score: 80/100

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