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.
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.