In The Jack of Souls by Stephen C. Merlino, Harric lives his last day knowing the curse on his family will be his undoing. An outcast and a rogue, he begins having nightmares about his upcoming death. He has no intention of giving in; he knows that he will survive, but how?
He has some allies but they too are outcasts. Caris is a horse-whispering runaway; she is planning on becoming one of the Queen’s female knights, but she also feels she must help Harric survive. She is strong and bigger than even most men, but she is also very shy, comfortable only around her horses. Then there is Sir Willard; he was once immortal and a champion, but had given it up, but is now addicted to pain-killing herbs. With their help Harric plans on keeping the curse from killing him.
Each of his compatriots has their own secrets: Caris is haunted and Willard wars with the Old Ones, an order of knights who have become immortal and mad. They have every intention of seizing the throne from the Queen, and Willard is desperate to save her.
Yet these are his allies and his friends and together they must find a way to eliminate the curse and save their Queen. Yet Harric is now faced with a magic that could break his curse, one that is forbidden. Can he stay focused and not fall into the temptation, for that way too leads to danger and possible death?
As they work their way through the dangers he finds more than he anticipated, including a love that is more than he ever expected. He must tread a path of duplicity and utilize his tactics to save them all from the dangers that face them.
The characters are an eclectic and amazing array of good and bad, with issues that seem both real and honest. The depth of description helps you to visualize them as well as get into the minds assigned to them by the author. They become very real, like your own friends and advisors. The story too is bold and epic, a journey to safety and romance, but a journey of growth and courage as well.
You will find yourself immersed in the characters and the countryside as they travel to find the answers. Be prepared to spend some time because once started you will find it difficult to put down. And even as you do put is down, you continue to think and worry about them, each with the situations they must overcome.
If you enjoy epic fantasy, magic, immortality, and a mixture of the things that go bump in the night, this will be the work you need for your library. For the romantic there is also fodder for your heart, for the dedication and courage that shines forth creates a corresponding glow in your own heart.
Stephen C. Merlino is an author to watch.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00QI98ZZ4]