“Feast of Souls” by C. S. Friedman

One can learn much about an author by reading her blog/webpage.  While reading Friedman’s blog, I was highly impressed with what she deems the “DM Rule.”  Basically, while worldbuilding, she tries to imagine what gamers would do if they were allowed to run loose in such a world and exploit it.  I approve of putting fantasy worlds to this test, because let’s face it, we all know that Voldemort should really have hidden his horcruxes in the ocean (who’s gonna find them there?) instead of obvious locations that were tied to him.  Also, if I were Voldemort, I wouldn’t have chanced another failed avada kedavra and would have invested in a revolver.

Adhering to the “DM Rule,” Friedman created a unique and complex world in which the law of conservation of matter/energy/etc. applies to magic.  The cost of casting any amount of magic is a proportion of that person’s finite soul.  If you run out of soul, you die.  Meanwhile, Magisters have figured out a way around this and use other people’s souls once their own have expired.

Women don’t become Magisters, because once you start feeling bad about killing people for power, you lose your power and die.  Only Magisters know that it is possible to feed off of other people’s souls, and they keep it a closely guarded secret.

The story begins as a young ex-prostitute named Kamala decides to become the first female Magister.  Meanwhile, we meet Prince Andovan, who is afflicted by a disease known as “The Wasting,” which is the direct result of a Magister using one’s soul.  There is no cure for “The Wasting,” as Magisters can only draw power from one person’s soul at a time.  Of course, we all know immediately that it is Kamala who is sapping his life.  As Prince Andovan attempts to find the cause of his sickness, Kamala attempts to find her place in the larger world.  Meanwhile, ancient evils have broken through the barriers which had once confined them and are now beginning to wreak havoc on the world.  By ancient evils, I mean giant dragonflies that kill entire towns at a time… big bugs make for creepy monsters!

I didn’t expect “Feast of Souls” to be nearly as awesome as it was.  Friedman clearly thought about her world in a lot of depth before she wrote the story.  Her writing’s pretty decent too.  I would recommend it, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

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Edit:  Just fixed a very stupid typo.  The Prince’s name was Andovan.  Colivar was a Magister.  This is why I shouldn’t type before I have my coffee.

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Categories: Fantasy, Fiction | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on ““Feast of Souls” by C. S. Friedman

  1. Love love love love love love love this series, glad to see other people recognize it for how totally awesome it is. Thanks!

    • You’re welcome! I really need to read the other two books now… the third one just came out a few days ago. 😀

  2. Interesting twist on magic — normal spell casting systems get lame…. Fantasy is sadly plagued by the same four tropes.

    • Other than this book, I’d suggest all of Brandon Sanderson’s books, he also uses different magic systems (that all have set rules) which gives his magic an interesting twist that is always interesting to read about.

      • I picked up a copy of Elantris, I just haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet. I’ve got a massive pile of books to read (thanks to Borders closeouts). 😀

  3. I agree, this is going to be thrown on my list of books to get. I also love the idea of the DM rule, brilliant way to think about setting up a magic system, especially if you have people who love to powergame the system and do everything they can to essentially become a demigod in a game.

    • Yup. I like that she actually takes that into account when she’s writing her story, and all the limits on magic/behavior/etc. are for a reason.

  4. this sounds like a great book! also i love the “DM Rule”, that’s awesome. i hate when i walk away from a book feeling like the villains are just illogical morons. how did they even become a villain to begin with if they cant concoct a functional plan??

    • It reminds me of a lot of threads I’ve read on internet forums about fantasy novels. There are so many times where there’s an obvious simple solution to the main characters’ plight, but they don’t take it because otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. I also prefer my villains to be intelligent. It makes heros look like wimps if they struggle to defeat a pushover bad guy.

  5. Great review. Going to add this to my TBR list. Thank you!

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