In The Soul of Power (out today,) we’re headed back to Eren and Caeris for the conclusion to Callie Bates’s The Waking Land trilogy. This time around, we’re in the head of Queen Sophy, the bastard daughter of the king from across the sea who has taken the crown for herself. The battle is far from over though especially since this book picks up prior to the end of The Memory of Fire with Caveadear Elanna finding herself in trouble and there’s nothing Sophy can do especially since she has more than her fair share of problems to deal with.
What’s always made this series really work is how well Bates writes nuanced, complicated women and that’s on display here again in The Soul of Power. Sophy is a young woman with a huge amount of responsibility on her shoulders. She was raised to be the back up heir and yet no one ever expected her to be queen. Add that to her complicated feelings regarding Elanna and how she was the one actually brought up by Elanna’s mother and it makes for a young woman who struggles with feeling like she is eternally everyone’s second choice and if that isn’t relatable, I don’t know what is. It’s a spin on tension between two girls that works without pitting them against each other.
While I still think that my favorite protagonist to live with in this series has been Elanna, Sophy is fun to spend time with even as everything continuously goes wrong and the situations she’s faced with get more complicated as everything spirals out of control. Her secret pregnancy isn’t helping because not only does this world definitely have a problem with royal babies born out of wedlock but there’s also a war going on and she’s not exactly being given the opportunity to rest up. Watching her balance her feelings for Alistar with her obligations to her country is fascinating to say the least.
The Soul of Power isn’t really a book you can pick up and read if you haven’t already read the first two, which shouldn’t really be surprising for the third book in a trilogy. It is, however, a fantastic ending to the story that began with Elanna as a prisoner in a gilded cage in a foreign court. One of the most successful things about the series thus far as been the magic system and Bates builds upon that system beautifully here, weaving it into the very fabric of the world and making it a vital part of the story and not just a plot device. The magic of the land almost feels like a character in its own right.
If you want a book with an interesting political landscape, a fascinating magical system, and endlessly complex women, The Soul of Power and the entire The Waking Land trilogy are absolutely the books for you. After such an overall well done trilogy, I cannot wait to see what Callie Bates writes next.
Thank you to Del Rey for an advance copy of the book for review purposes.