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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

“Soul Born” by Kevin James Breaux (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order “Soul BornHERE
Read Sample Chapters HERE (PDF)
Read the e-Story “Soul Born Origins: OpalHERE (PDF)
Watch the Book Trailer HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Kevin James Breaux graduated from Temple University with a degree in Fine Arts and is currently working as an IT Professional and published artist with works in Zombie CSU and THEY BITE!. He has also done advertisement and merchandise design work for the first X-Men movie. Soul Born is his debut novel.

PLOT SUMMARY: All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia, Opal seizes an opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful spot among them.

Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts that dwell in the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power, Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war.

Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing ever headlong into battle, Karn begins to recall memories of another life—ghosts that haunt his dreams.

Through death of soul, their world is born…

CLASSIFICATION: Soul Born is a dark epic fantasy novel reminiscent of the works of James Clemens, Paul S. KempR.A. Salvatore.

FORMAT/INFO: Soul Born is 306 pages long divided over thirty-two titled chapters and a Prologue. Narration is in the third person via Opal, Karn and Tala Silverwolf. Soul Born is the opening volume in the Soul Born Saga with the book ending on a proper note. November 30, 2010 marked the Trade Paperback publication of Soul Born via Dark Quest Books. Cover art is provided by Dan Dos Santos.

ANALYSIS: Soul Born is a book that grabbed my attention because of an interesting blurb that described an “epic dark fantasy novel”, and a great cover by Dan Dos Santos. Of course, it’s what’s on the inside that really matters...

Soul Born is centered around three characters: Opal who is training to become more than just an ordinary mage; Karn, a warrior with a faulty memory who is supposed to fight the evil tyrant warlord, Mustaffa; and Tala Silverwolf, an elf banished from her tribe due to undisclosed reasons, and the key behind unlocking Karn’s past. Thankfully, the three main characters—with all of their motivations, plans and actions—are the main draw of the book. Opal in particular, is a shining star who I believe will be a major factor in the rest of the Soul Born Saga.

Story-wise, Soul Born is well plotted, with surprising twists and revelations, especially the ending and middle of the book where the author reveals certain details about Opal and Karn that will change the reader’s perception of them. There’s also the history of the mages which fuels a major plot point and the meaning behind ‘soul born’ laid bare, while the pacing never lets the reader rest. Prose meanwhile, is a bit bumpy at times, but it doesn’t derail the reading experience.

The major concerning factor for me were the coincidences throughout the book. For example, whenever a character needed to get out of a tight spot or needed a certain power or some other form of aid, the author provided it. This issue is what prevented me from enjoying the book as much as I thought I would.

CONCLUSION: Kevin J. Breaux‘s Soul Born is an interesting debut with some good points and some not-so-good points. Unfortunately, the novel was somewhat of a disappointment for me, but there is definitely potential there that could be further realized in the rest of the Soul Born Saga...


Anonymous said...

I had a really hard time with this book, to the point where I couldn't finish it. I couldn't get over the writing style, clunky dialogue and awkward characters. The whole thing just felt very stunted to me.

Your review of it is very well done and you were incredibly fair in what you said and how you felt. I ended up not reviewing it because I didn't feel like I could be fair. It's good to read a review like yours.

The Reader said...

Hi Sarah

I remember your blog post about the same book. You also detailed the issues you had nicely.

For me the coincidences were the biggest souring points. Once or twice occurrences could be overlooked but they occurred a bit too much for my liking.

I still would like to see how KJB fares with the second book as with this one, the edits were done in about 2 weeks which was abnormal[not his fault though as the editor was ill] and in this case a bit disastrous considering it was his debut.


Kim @ The Caffeinated Diva said...

Personally, I loved it when I read and reviewed it. For me, the fact that the story didn't follow the usual fantasy formula as closely as a lot of others was a selling point. I like darker fantasy, especially those with an epic feel to them. So that, combined that it wasn't so black and white as a lot of fantasy books, outweighed anything else. :)

nothankyou said...

I loved it :) He's got an "epic touch" in his writing style and I look forward to seeing what else he's got coming. Lots of potential and, from what I can tell, plenty of imagination to do something crazy.

Lexie said...

Aye I enjoyed it as well. True enough there were some flaws, but in the end the characters kept me engaged and I was eager to see how things turned out.

The twist(s) had me the most surprised I think. I honestly didn't see it coming, but in hindsight could see the hints. Now that Kevin's got a new editor the clunkiness should be taken care of and the flow of the story should work out!

The Reader said...

@ Kim

Glad to hear you liked it, while I enjoyed its premise, the execution perhaps let me down.

@ Diana

Yeah KJB's imagination is definitely a plus point as the story twists were good. I believe his sophomore effort might upstage his debut and so we will have to wait and watch.


The Reader said...

@ Lexie

Kevin told me about the edits for SB and so hopefully with a new editor and more time, SB2's future does look good, let's wait and see where takes the story.


Mark Lawrence said...

Interesting to see this reviewed again - I first saw a review on Fantasy Faction. I know Kevin's been working hard to promote the book and it's a good case study in how an author can support their work. Anyhow - thought provoking review, thanks. One day I'd like to read this book since I keep bumping into it!

KV said...

Normally don't post, but I'm on vacation and this was something I downloaded to Kindle out of idle curiosity. I am a sucker for a good epic fantasy but I strayed for a while in urban fantasy and hard scifi.

I'm usually willing to overlook even the clunkiest of prose if the story is good, but I have to agree with Sarah. Writing read as juvenile in the first couple of chapters, with no personality showing through and Opal in particular coming across as a standard, extremely boring super-talented person with no real handicaps (except being untried).
If I could sum this up I'd say it read like some YA series that is ghostwritten and chunked out every three months.

I was surprised to find myself unable to go past the first couple of chapters and came back here to read the comments to see if I was the only one that felt this way, or if I missed that in the review. Since my most recent binge was urban fantasy I don't think it's because I'm too picky. Give me a couple good characters or a new story and I'm willing to overlook even obvious archetypes and sloppy writing.

I'll try again with the next one, or maybe wait another week and see if I can get through it again. Sometimes author writing styles just don't click with some readers and I guess I've found my first one in a while.

In the meantime I feel like I need to go re-read The Quantum Thief...

chris said...

I tend to agree with Kim and Lexie on this one. Mihir has some very strong points of constructive criticism too. Let me explain, from the author's interviews I have read, I believe he and I are close in age, and have similar backgrounds. This is why I am now following Mr. Breaux's career. Its fascinating and fun, to actually be able to go on this journey with him, I was never able to start with book one with any other author, and of course the internet and social media did not exist. Regardless, I am enjoying the trip, and look forward to seeing Mr. Breaux grow from book to book. Obviously a debut author, at a small press publisher is not going to be as polished as one at a big house, with lots of money and time thrown at them. For that reason alone I excuse the editing issues.

While reading Soul Born I came to an early realization of what the author was trying to do, "I got it", as they say. So when moments of confusion hit, I realized the author wants me to feel confused along with his characters so I could relate with their struggle. If you read the whole book, you will find a big surprised mid way, this explains the "oddness" in the beginning and makes it very satisfying. I say Good Job. Book two I am betting I will say Great Job!


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