Review | Sundered Souls – Tim Hardie

About the Book

Led by Johan Jokellsward, the Brotherhood of the Eagle fights to free the land of Reavesburg from its occupiers the Vorund Clan and avenge the murder of their chief. Only Johan’s inner circle understand their true calling, sworn to defeat an old evil that has risen once more.

Gautarr Falrufson, one of Reavesburg’s few surviving leaders, still defies the occupying forces and the Brotherhood’s small army must lift the siege of his fortress if they are to survive. However, Reavesburg is a divided land and the old clan loyalties no longer hold true. What reception can Johan expect if he clears the way to Gautarr’s gates?

With their fate hanging in the balance, Johan sets aside the accepted ways of his people and appoints Rothgar Kolfinnarson as his advisor, someone who has his own personal reasons to hate the Vorund Clan. Together, they must call upon mistrusted magic to gain the advantage over their enemies.

The second book in The Brotherhood of the Eagle series, Sundered Souls continues the epic fantasy tale involving magic, capricious politics and war. Who will choose the right side in the coming battle?

426 pages (kindle)
Published on July 27, 2021
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I really enjoyed Tim Hardie’s debut book, Hall of Bones. When he asked if I’d be interested in reading the second book in his series, Sundered Souls, I jumped on it. Not only was I extremely curious about where this series was going, I also know (from personal experience) what it is like to be an indie author and fight for readers, and if I can help an author who, I believe, deserves all the attention, then I absolutely will.

Sundered Souls starts out a bit after Hall of Bones. I have a pretty crap memory due to three rounds of cancer treatments, so I do worry a lot of the time that I’ll pick up the second book in a series and not know what’s going on, because I can’t remember what I’ve previously read (through no fault of the author). Hall of Bones is written in such a way that the main events in the previous book are touched on just enough to draw out my memories of the events, but never so much I felt like Hardie was hitting me over the head with it.

Enough time has passed from Hall of Bones for events to not only settle, but shift. New players emerge on the field. Some are welcome additions, and some are less so. Old feuds and rivalries, issues that were never quite put to bed increases tension on both personal and political levels. There was, almost instantly, a feeling of simmering discontent and worry. The atmosphere, in fact, was extremely well done and used throughout the book to its maximum effect, with the personal and interpersonal tensions masterfully feeding off each other.

A lot happens in this book, and it moves really fast. If you aren’t paying attention, you will be left behind. There are also a lot of characters. You’ll like some more than others, but I felt that all of them were developed quite well, with unique voices I had no problems identifying. One thing I truly loved about this book was how human all the characters remained. While there is a lot happening here, Hardie gives each character moments of quiet vulnerability that really serve to humanize them, and make them matter to me more as I read about them. All of these characters have chinks in their armor, and without focusing too much on them, Hardie manages to use those chinks as a bridge to connect them to his readers. It was superbly done.

However, that tension I mention previously, the atmosphere the author infuses the book with from page one, is really felt throughout the entire story. There is a lot happening here, both in the plot and with the characters themselves as events transpire that force them outside of their comfort zones. Somehow, Hardie juggles all of it, not just to further the story, but to infuse the entire book with a fantastic amount of tension that never lets up.

Sundered Souls is heavily political, with plenty of factions and personal political goals and aims. A lot is riding on what happens in this book. Occasionally, I feel the fantasy took a backseat to the politics, but this didn’t bother me in the least. The stakes in this book are so much higher than I felt they were with Hall of Bones. Everything matters, and everything seems to have these far-reaching, almost surreal consequences. For readers who enjoy political machinations in their fantasy settings, this series will be for you. It moves along until the absolutely unforgettable ending filled with revelations and rife with unexpected twists and turns.

Hardie is a fantastic author who puts a lot of detail into his worldbuilding and does so with a poetic finesse that really manages to balance out his more bloody, gruesome moments. I love books that balance beauty and pain, and I felt like Hardie did that really well with this book. The groundwork he laid out in Hall of Bones is expanded up on here, and due to that, the world feels both larger, and more complex and detailed. And yet, he weaves throughout all this trauma, pain, and tension these quiet moments of lyrical prose that just worked for me. Sundered Souls really proved Hardie’s versatility as an author.

So, where does that leave us? 

I think it’s pretty obvious I loved this book. I also think Hardie is one of those undiscovered gems in the indie sphere. He’s got some serious writing chops, and this series is absolutely amazing. Hall of Bones was a fantastic debut. Sundered Souls took everything I loved about Hall of Bones and expanded upon it.

This is shaping up to be a brilliant fantasy series.

5/5 stars