Rian’s life is not exactly that of a story-book prince. He is abused sexually and physically by his brother the king, with almost no hope of escaping. The last person to try and help him was mercilessly slaughtered right in front of him. After his latest attempt to flee the country, the king hires foreign mercenaries to watch over him. The Hawks are known as fierce and ruthless warriors, but they are also a deeply spiritual people. They believe the souls of the dead sometimes need a guide from the land of the living, a “soulseeker”, to help them find their way to the afterlife, but their people have been without one for many years.
As the Hawks get to know Rian, they come to realize he is not the spoiled little prince the king has lead them to expect. Rian is kind and gentle, despite his ill treatment, yet fiercely protective of those around him, even at great personal cost to himself, and he is no coward when faced with danger. Hamon, the leader of the Hawks, even begins to suspect that Rian could be the long sought-after soulseeker.
“Soulseeker” is an enjoyable fantasy. It builds a quite believable medieval world where at least some men have a stronger spiritual connection to the world around them. In the context of the story, Rian and Hamon are quite realistic characters, with plenty of depth to them that makes you want to see how things turn out for them. Exactly how the two men will end up together is far from clear until the closing pages. The story line sets up a situation where it seems very unlikely that Rian and Hamon could ever have a relationship of any kind.
The sub plot of familial abuse is rather well written. Madness is often exaggerated to the point of caricature in fiction. While the portrayal of the king’s mental instability is perhaps a little over-the-top, it’s still believably drawn. The roots of his psychosis are even explained somewhat near the end. The explanation is perhaps a little simplistic, and obvious, but there are quite a few threads of the story that get wrapped up in a very few pages of the last chapter. This is one of those book that weaves a fairly complex story that it then tries to wrap up a little bit too quickly. It still works out well, but could have benefited from a slightly more elaborate ending.
“Soulseeker” is available from Amazon.