Shadow Bound Souls, blends Science Fiction and classic high fantasy in a steampunk world.
The Sagean Lord has emerged.
While the Wrythen’s influence grows stronger, the Sagean and his power-hungry acolytes, the Court of Dragons, are intent on delivering the gem of souls to the Temple of Ama; where the Sintering Fountain can transform the acolytes into Luminaries.
Meanwhile, the band of heroes find themselves separated in a world starting to tear itself apart. Having suffered a huge loss, Ellaria and Elias must escape the Mainland with the Sagean’s agents pursuing them. When Elias becomes sick, Ellaria decides to hide amongst the Showman’s Traveling Show of Wonders. But their journey is shadowed by darkness and when troupe members turn up murdered, Ellaria struggles to find the killer amongst her company.
Far away in the Warhawk Mountains, the three young rogues are stranded with the Tempest Stone. Aimless about what to do, their paths take a turn when they discover the horrifying magnitude of the Sagean’s return to power, the Scree.
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A fog drifted amongst the looming masses of tents and travel-crafts. A man stepped from shadow to shadow with a blood-soaked knife. Ellaria could feel him stalking her, but she couldn't see him. A slight disturbance in the grass, a crunch in the dirt, whispered of his position. But the sound was lost in the wind before she could locate its source.
Where had everyone gone, she wondered. The entirety of the fairgrounds was empty. With a lantern in her hands, she weaved around the trampled paths through the large field, the darkness of the night yet to give way to the morning light.
No matter where she looked, she couldn't find anyone. She heard a sharp ringing sound from the caravan circle, and she rushed from around a carriage house to the center space.
At the center was a tall man with a top hat. The soft glow of the surrounding carriages provided only enough light to softly illuminate the fog and patches of the ground, leaving the man mostly disguised. He leaned slightly on a cane and his right hand at his side held a long-curved knife.
In succession, the lanterns started to wane and extinguish from behind him. Gradually, each light winked out of existence in a progression toward her and the darkness consumed the circle yard.
Her own light held, and she lifted it forward to see.
A sinister smile on the pale man was now only a few feet away. She couldn't breathe. She tried to scream, but nothing came out. The man's face appeared, and she almost recognized him, but his eyes were missing. Like they had been burned out of his skull.
“Hello, Ms. Moonstone,” he spoke in a smoky voice that sent a shiver run down her spine.
“Who are you?” Ellaria said.
“Don't you know? Don't you recognize me?”
“What a shame, after so many encounters, too,” he said, and lifted the blade. A reflection appeared in the steel of a man she did recognize: Elias. And the pale man laughed. A dark mocking laugh that made her skin crawl. Her hand trembled and Ellaria threw the lantern at his feet...
A fallen empire, a failed republic, and a frontier of alchemy, magic and machines…
They thought the war was over. That they had given enough, but when an oppressive empire falls, what comes from the ashes, is turmoil and treachery.
Ellaria Moonstone, an alchemist, and a hero of the Great War, has spent the last forty years trying to rebuild. An emissary for the Scholar’s Guild, her life’s work has been in establishing universities throughout the world. But as a former general that led the resistance in overthrowing the Sagean Empire, she has watched as all she fought for has slowly eroded away and with it, her faith in the republic. Now in her mid-fifties her singular focus has been to protect all knowledge for future generations.
When Ellaria is suspiciously requested to attend a meeting in the capitol city of Adalon, she quickly realizes something is amiss and the main governing body the Coalition of Nations may be compromised. When the Peace King of the Free Cities goes missing the plot to overthrow the tenuous republic takes shape, and Ellaria becomes convinced that the entity manipulating the fragile government is in servitude to a new Sagean Emperor. A Luminary with the powers to control energy.
Now the Coalition is intent on hunting down and capturing the man that defeated the last Sagean Emperor. The greatest hero of the war, Qudin Lightweaver. However, Ellaria’s old friend has not been seen in twenty years. With no one left to trust, she sends for help from old allies and expatriates scattered across the chaotic frontier. Once reunited, the aging veterans realize trust between old friends is not what it once was.
Three former war heroes, long past their prime and haunted by their pasts, are all that stand against a dark entity threatening the future. With the currency of souls is in the balance they find their destinies are entwined with a band of young rogues. Together they must stop the return of a dark empire. While each path to the truth is rot with peril, they discover the key to protecting the future resides in the mysteries of the past. The quest for a lost tomb ensues and the recovery of a relic from the time of the unknown ancients, called the Tempest Stone.
The Binding Tempest is the beginning of an immerse saga, of magic, alchemy, airships, and ancient mysteries. A new epic Sci-Fi and Fantasy series that is a classic High Fantasy Adventure injected with Steampunk science. For fans of The Wheel of Time series, Shadow and Bone and the Stormlight Archives.
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Steven Rudy received a degree in Environmental Design and Architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He currently lives in Colorado with his wife and three kids and works as an architectural designer on historic preservation projects and residential projects.
Shadow Bound Souls is his second novel.
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My thoughts: this is an action packed steampunk sci-fi fantasy novel, that picks up right after book one (so read that first). Traversing entire continents the gang are reunited only to be separated again as they seek to stop the evil Sagean Emperor from seizing power and unleashing the Wrythen on the world.
Racing against time and with only the vaguest idea of what to do, not helped by Elias being in a coma for a bit, even Ellaria and Rovan are a bit of a loss, let alone the younger contingent, who weren’t even alive yet last time the Sagean had to be stopped. But with some luck, some help from old friends and new, oh and Tali’s increasingly strong powers, they might just be able to get to the temple in time…or not.
The plot rips along at a break neck pace at times, and there’s a lot going on, new characters, new peoples, gunfights, sword fights, giant monsters, kidnap, murder, some leaping from windows, y’know the usual adventure stuff when there’s a world to save and no one really knows what they’re doing! Great fun, roll on book three!
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own