About a year ago (I think), I noticed an author tweet about Kevin Breaux’s Soul Born novel. I’d never heard of it, and was intrigued. I did a little digging, and started following Kevin on Twitter. And he seems like a nice chap. I bought the first novel for the series, and it’s been on my TBR e-pile for a while now (really have to do something about that…). I decided I wanted to know a little bit more about the series, and asked Kevin if he’d like to write a guest post about it. He agreed, and wrote a beast! So, here’s his summary and explanation of what the Soul Born Saga is all about.
[Warning: There are some spoilers in here, but it left me just as intrigued by the novel, so don’t think it does anything to ruin things.]
What is the Soul Born Saga?
That’s a tough question, and one that cannot be sufficiently answered shortly. HA! I had to chuckle after typing that… see, it’s funny because as an author I’m constantly being asked or told to summarize my work. For a literary query letter, I have to reduce an entire 110,000+ word novel to 2-3 paragraphs and when tweeting I have to find a cute and catchy way to sell my books at 140 characters. Luckily some agents ask for a synopsis, so then I can finally stretch my legs into 2-3 pages…
So what is the Soul Born Saga? Well it’s my first attempt at writing a fantasy trilogy and I wanted to start as close to the beginning as I could. Just like most fantasy authors, I have read/watched/played many fantasy books/movies/video games and often I find myself questioning things I know I’m just meant to accept. Floating castle, cool, but why is it floating? How is it floating? How long has it floated? How did the stone masons get that stone up there to begin with? Magical barrier separating worlds, regions, good and bad… OK, but was there ever a time before all that? What were those people like?
Essentially, I wanted to try and tell a fantasy story that began with just a few elements of the unknown and then built up. The Soul Born Saga starts off feeling like medieval Europe with a few basic building blocks of fantasy, yet with each book it grows. The existence of magic is where the series really stands out from reality. By doing this I was hoping readers could relate more, and through that they would get attached to my characters. As I add more mystical creatures and magical items, the readers would learn how these things come into play at the same time as my characters do. I wanted a normal historical world to be born into a fantasy one, and at a pace that my readers could go along with.
That being said, I created a small back story of elves, lizard men and mages, but the human world, which the books are centered around, have suffered many generations of war and almost all recorded history has been lost. So the kings may know who their great grandparents are, but the common man would not. Hence, it’s starting a new era… at the beginning.
Soul Born takes place on the small island continent of Illyia. In the recent years the elves and lizardmen have fought each other to near extinction on both sides. The human lands have been at peace for a while, but separate of one another. It is the dawn of cooperation and diplomacy, so the people are connecting from kingdom to kingdom: building roads, traveling and trading.
This is how Soul Born begins. A man of the past has come back to the lands for revenge. He invades in the south via boats. On Illyia there are no transport ships, only fishing boats, so the citizenry are not even sure what exists far off the coast. A whole world could be out there…
When the warlord attacks, he conquers the first kingdom with ease. In this time of peace no kingdom has a large standing army or garrison prepared to defend themselves against such aggression.
We meet TALA first, in a prologue, a moment from the past where she, a young elf, is stalked by lizardmen until she discovers a lake that contains an ancient power: a fairy. Tala is saved by the fairy, but at the same time indentured to her for life.
Next we meet OPAL, a young magic student who wants to be done with her training. She’s stubborn and hot-headed, but she’s also the one with the plan. She has come up with a way for her school of mages, the High Council, to defeat the warlord before he spreads too far north and endangers them. Of course, Opal is not doing this for the population of Illyia, or her teachers and fellow students, she is doing it for herself. Opal does everything for her own selfish gains.
KARN is the focus of Opal’s plan; she is using him. With the use of the High Council’s magic and her own, Opal has turned the man she loves into a weapon. I like to think of Karn as part barbarian, part Hulk, part video game character – like my hero in SKYRIM, he will rush into battle and cut down anything in his way, with no regards to his own safety. To be fair, in SKYRIM I save before the big battles and he can’t, but Karn has Opal at his back and she’s a powerful mage and healer. Karn is a lost soldier from the first kingdom to be defeated and he wants revenge… or is he? As the story progresses we learn Karn is someone else.
One thing people seem to like about Soul Born is how the characters are neither good nor bad, they are shades of grey. Each of my characters is pursuing their own selfish goals. While they might be fighting to save the lands of Illyia, it is not for the “SUPERMAN” truth and justice reason. My characters are just doing what is needed to stay alive in that moment. I like to say that one of the themes of the Soul Born Saga is this: “right and wrong matters little when survival matters most.”
With no clear line between good and evil, I’m allowed to make my characters very realistic and relatable. Come on, let’s admit it… who here has not had a really evil thought in their head? And I’m not just talking in over the course of their lifetime. I am betting most people reading this had a wicked thought in the last 24 hours. I know I have... [Insert evil laugh] Probably five to ten of them to be honest! [Insert second, louder evil laugh… with echo]
Who has not thought, “I would do ANYTHING for ????” Fill in the blank there: new job, new car, bigger house, better health, more money, Megan Fox, etc. They all work.
Well, in an ancient time, with fewer laws and no traffic cameras on every corner, you would have a society with different morals. Opal is a prime example of this. The back cover of Soul Born says:
Opal has killed for what she believes are all the right reasons.
Opal is one bad mutha! But she means well. I can see it now on the Channel Six News; the old lady living next to Opal comes out of her house and says, “She seemed like such a nice girl. Quiet and smiled all the time.” Nah, that can’t happen! Opal lives in the world of the Soul Born Saga! But you get the point, right? She’s not all bad, it’s a see-saw effect for her and Opal must decide which path fulfils her selfish desires most; good or evil.
So it’s hard to not spoil book one, but above are some of the overall themes. In book two, BLOOD DIVIDED, we see a new generation with some of the same issues. Set twenty some years later it follows the children of Karn; all four of them. Remember what I said above about wanting to start at the beginning and work into a fantasy world from a normal one? Well Blood Divided is the beginning… of the end! Four children, two mothers, one father; thousands dead. This book begins feeling like a classic princess fairy tale until I turn it on its head and cover it in blood. OK, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Blood Divided introduces five new important people: Khaos, Megan, Autumn, Lucien and Vasche. Khaos and Megan are Opal’s children – twins who both have innate magical abilities. Megan can talk to animals and Khaos can talk to and control the dead. Autumn and Lucien are Tala’s children, also twins, and they were born into royalty acting as the Prince and Princess of Kel Tora and all the lands of Illyia. So I have set all the characters up with very serious and understandable issues.
Megan is Opal’s daughter and top student. She wants to live up to her mother’s expectations and often feels ignored as Opal has a whole school of students now, mages she has saved from Illyia and has taken to an island hideout. When Megan meets Autumn, she feels some heated jealousy over a life she should have had – one filled with adoration and ease.
Nathan calls himself Khaos because his life is a maelstrom of emotions. Life and death have started to blur in his eyes, losing all meaning. He remembers the actions of his father like they are his own. He is tortured and feels alone; lost. He wants it all and feels like he can’t have anything. He blames his mother for his pain.
Autumn is the Princess of Kel Tora, loved by all. Her life is perfect. She cares nothing of politics until her world is turned upside down and the softness she is used to becomes as coarse as stone. Autumn is jealous of Megan’s power and the respect she gets for having such power. She wants to be tough like her mother and brother, but is not taken serious.
Lucien has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He wants to be the best man he can and will settle for nothing less. He knows there will come a day where he is king and he hates that there is disrespect for those of half-elf blood. This makes him even angrier when the same half-elf details that make his so hard make his sister so beloved. Much of the time he feels he does not fit in.
Blood Divided begins with Khaos coming to Kel Tora demanding to be the new ruler. With him, he says, is proof of his claim to the crown, the severed head of his mother, Opal. His timing is perfect, as the King is ill and a meeting is coming up in several days to announce who will rule the lands. When that meeting arrives, and the King does not call a vote, instead naming his son, Lucien, the new King, old grudges flare up and a tournament is called to settle the differences of the regions.
Megan comes to Illyia seeking her brother to avenger her mother’s death, but does not realize Opal is not truly dead. As a result of her magic, or maybe Khaos’s, she is stuck as some sort of ghost or walking soul. No one can see her, except her son and she is fading in and out of reality. When Opal encounters Megan they somehow merge body and soul and soul… This is when Megan begins to understand more about her past and present.
Again, I say that I do not want to spoil the book. There are a lot of mysteries in Soul Born and Blood Divided, and sharing the realizations with the characters is half the fun. Heavy on the themes of adulthood and responsibility you will find that book two carries the grayness of good and evil from book one. I like to say that this is how the lands of Illyia become a dark continent. Not by the swords of thousands of men, but the vengeful soul of one.
All and all, writing these books has been a true adventure. Starting years ago… 2003, and reaching now. Soul Born was written when I was a baby, a fledgling, a total noob! I made lots of mistakes with it and had the worst editor on the planet… and since I was so green I followed all the suggested fixes and, well, no one proofread it. I should have asked if they proofread! Gah! I just found out that they did not for either book one or two, so a few mistakes made it to print with book two as well. At least Blood Divided was written later in my author life, when I was more skilled as a writer and it had a killer-rad editor.
FLESH ENDED, the final book of the trilogy, is currently being written. It’s almost done and will be the cleanest and most developed of the group simply because I have been awarded a metric butt-ton of writer skills points in the last two years alone.
To end let me just say this…
The Soul Born Saga is as much the tragic tale of Opal as it is a story of survival for Tala, the other main character. #dark #fantasy #epic
Look Mom, less than 140 characters!