Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Early Review: Worldsoul

- Liz Williams

Publisher: Prime Books

E-Arc Courtesy of netgalley and Prime Books

What if being a librarian was the most dangerous job in the world?
Worldsoul, a great city that forms a nexus point between Earth and the many dimensions known as the Liminality, is a place where old stories gather, where forgotten legends come to fade and die—or to flourish and rise again. Until recently, Worldsoul has been governed by the Skein, but they have gone missing and no one knows why. The city is also being attacked with lethal flower-bombs from unknown enemy. Mercy Fane and her fellow Librarians are doing their best to maintain the Library, but... things... keep breaking out of ancient texts and legends and escaping into the city. Mercy must pursue one such dangerous creature. She turns to Shadow, an alchemist, for aid, but Shadow—inadvertently possessed by an ifrit—has a perilous quest of her own to undertake...

I have to admit it has been a while since I read any traditional fantasy and fancied diving back into that type of world. However, this isn’t the traditional type of fantasy… Nothing is explicitly explained about the world and how it works – you have to figure it out as you go. And it is an extremely fascinating world. Set somewhere beyond time and imagination, the Liminality is a city where words have power – and stories and history even more so. Librarians have to enter certain areas of the library heavily armed in case anything crosses over from history, imagination or myth. Previously ruled over by the mysterious but benevolent Skein and now left alone, the people of Worldsoul have to struggle to keep their world together. And into this situation is thrown a young librarian with an unusual heritage as she struggles to keep the library together even while Dukes of Hell, Gods of Nightmares, Alchemists and the Magician Court all circle around her…

Mercy is a typical strong female heroine – good with sword and using her brains with a troubled and slightly mysterious past. I liked her but I never felt I got to know her well. I never felt an emotional connection to her – or any of the other characters for that matter. Shadow, the alchemist was the only character that really intrigued me and I wanted to know more about. Otherwise there are a lot of characters and it was difficult to remember who all the side characters were at times.

There is a lot happening in this story and the threads are at times slow to weave together – at times it feels like you are working as hard as the characters to know what is going on, but without the benefit of familiarity with the world. However, when you reach certain point there is a strong feeling of satisfaction – like climbing a mountain and being rewarded with the clear view for miles. The finale is exhausting and exhilarating with plenty of action and some truly compelling story telling.

Overall, the lack of emotional connection to the characters and the difficult to understanding this unique world, held me back from truly appreciating the story on more than a technical area. But I was never tempted to put the book down. Worth investing the time but not for those without concentration skills!

Recommended for fans of N.K. Jemisin and Tad Williams. 5 out of 10.


  1. Excellent review, Mel! Your concentration skills are difinetely superior to mine :))) I love how you really showed the cool things about this book and left the reader to decide to try to tackle it or not without sounding negative. Love it!

  2. Hm..I think it was above commenters review that made me doubt this book. And now with this review I still doubt that I would fall

  3. Aw... I always find it hard to get through a fantasy book when you have no emotional connection to the characters. I like that you weren't wanting to put it down and that makes me curious. Hm... I may have to library book this one.

  4. What a timely review. I'm about halfway through Worldsoul, and have been debating finishing it. It doesn't seem to be coming together easily and I feel disconnected and confused. I think reading your review has helped a bit, and I will definitely finish it now. But you're right, it certainly requires concentration. I find I can't read it in tiny pieces or with background noise, as I do most books.