Broken Souls

Book 1 (Seasons of the Cycle)

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
469 Pages
Reviewed on 11/14/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jessica Barbosa for Readers' Favorite

Broken Souls is the first book of the Seasons of Cycle Series written by Troy Calkins and illustrated by Worm Tail. It delves into the stories of two people, Bothvar Beorcolsson and Lura Syllana, as they go through their lives, experiencing tragedy, sacrifice, and danger. Both of them are haunted by regrets. Bothvar goes through his life empty inside and his weapons dripping with the blood of his enemies. Despite his skills and his reputation, he is haunted by the loss and the tragedy he experienced in life. Lura Syllana’s father wanted a better life for her. He did not want his daughter to repeat the mistakes he had done but Lura disagreed. She thought her father was a hypocrite who abandoned her uncle when he needed him the most. In a twist, her own choices and mistakes lead to her family’s capture. Desperate and devastated, Lura will do anything she can to save them but at what cost?

Broken Souls is a dark fantasy with a Viking culture-like setting. The story is told in two first-person points of view, Bothvar’s and Lura’s. Their captivating but dark adventures led me through an intricate and enthralling storyline. They confront their mistakes and become stronger in the face of such tragedies. The challenges they faced and the struggles they went through were heartbreaking but Troy Calkins' tale had me hooked from the start to the end with impressive detail and vivid scenes. The pacing was steady and the transitions between the different POVs are smooth. Both of their stories followed an interesting plot that had me devouring the book. Reading about how Bothvar and Lura grew in the first book was an honor. I felt so many mixed emotions as I read their individual developments and I had a lot of heartache over the losses they experienced along the way. This book has left a deep impression on me and I am looking forward to more of Bothvar and Lura’s story in the sequel. Outstanding work!

K.C. Finn

Broken Souls is a work of fiction in the epic fantasy genre and is the opening installment in the Seasons of the Cycle series. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author Troy Calkins with illustrations by artist Worm Tail. The book follows Bothvar Beorcolsson and Lura Syllana as they adventure across the land and sea to defend their loved ones and find honor. Bothvar seeks glory in violence, pushing through the pain of his growing injuries to earn honor by fighting worthy foes. Lura seeks freedom for her family after an error in her judgment lead to their enslavement, willing to make whatever sacrifice they need to in order to make things right.

Fantasy worlds don’t get harder and grittier than this one, with a harsh world that forces the protagonists to fight tooth and nail for each victory. As Bothvar and Lura push forward in their quests, author Troy Calkins uses the hostility of the world they inhabit to create a crucible that forges the fledgling protagonists into hardened heroes who have earned what victories they have won by the story's end. The descriptive writing style engages readers at every turn, heightening the stakes with every turn of the page and creating a level of investment in the protagonists that is rarely seen in modern fiction. The story takes its Nordic inspirations and runs with them to create a fantastic fantasy world that feels close to our own history yet with its own distinct identity. Overall, Broken Souls was an exciting and gripping read for those who like their fantasy dark and deadly and I would highly recommend it.

Miche Arendse

An epic Viking fantasy plays out in Broken Souls: Book 1 (Seasons of the Cycle) by Troy Calkins. This story follows two characters named Bothvar Beorcolsson and Lura Syllana. Bothvar, formerly surrounded by loved ones, soon finds himself in what seems like a life filled with endless battles. Facing the Longest Night he must push through the pain and suffering of his chosen path as there is no turning back. Lura must face the consequences of her actions to save her family. Having been caught using magic Lura will have to pay the price to ensure those she loves come out alive.

Broken Souls by Troy Calkins is a beautifully written book that encapsulates Viking culture and Norse mythology. Calkins's writing style is wonderfully descriptive in the sense that it paints such vivid images of the world he has created along with the characters. The world-building is top notch and every scene is described with just enough detail. The characters themselves are real and easily evoke empathy throughout the plot. Lura’s story was especially emotional for me as she must come to terms with the fact that her current situation is a result of her actions. Her determination and resolve are admirable and make for such a compelling story that I couldn’t stop reading it. Bothvar’s story also had its charm and shows his capacity to push forward through adversity. Fans of the genre will fall in love with this book and its characters and I recommend it.

Vincent Dublado

Broken Souls: Book 1 (Seasons of the Cycle) by Troy Calkins is a fantastic epic Viking tale that blends fantasy and history perfectly. The introductory chapter immediately sets the scene and character, as you are introduced to Bothvar Beorcolsson. This part of the book chronicles his journey to The Longest Night, a fateful winter that seems to have no end, and a journey where many have died before him. It is said that to sacrifice your own life to save the lives of those you care about is the greatest honor and will be rewarded with the most glory. Will the reward be enough to merit the loss? Then you are introduced to Lura Syllana, a woman who grew up in Tent City and was arrested for using magic without a permit. While the nobles fatten themselves and prohibit the poor from using magic and subject them to slave labor, she will do anything in her power to save her family.

Hats off to Troy Calkins for putting so much passion into the world he has created. He solidifies a penchant for history and mythology with elaborate prose and an array of colorful characters. In Broken Souls, one finds the precision of a well-crafted saga in a well-structured plot that delivers an intricate literary fantasy. His central figures take a step toward common ground in illustrating self-sacrifice for the benefit of the ones they love, and they possess noble qualities that ideally position them for the task they must undertake. The starkness of the tale strikes a familiar tone with the Norse gods in their doomed battle against the giants during Ragnarok, and the reader will wonder if these protagonists are equally ill-fated. This is a must-read fantasy that perfectly illustrates our primal nature and our ability to stand against forces that are far greater than us.

Stephanie Chapman

Broken Souls is Troy Calkins’ first book in The Season Of The Cycles Series. The book is based on the views of Bothvar Beorcolsson and Lura Syllana. Bothvar, a member of the Kraken Clan, resides in the north. After King Vandil of the south slew King Teowulf, the Vikings retaliated by robbing merchant ships. Thorkel, Bothvar's brother, is killed during his first raid, which also results in Bothvar's expulsion from the community. Bothvar flees to the mountains. Lura admires Lethvelion, who leads a group of professional thieves. Lura’s parents, Lethvelion, and the group of thieves fall prey to the slave ships after Phraan betrays the group. Madame Faralene came to help her when she was alone on the street. She works at a brothel as a barmaid but needs more money to free her family. Lura falls in love with a paladin, Orym, and he tells her he loves her as well. However, Orym never returns to the brothel.

Troy Calkins' writing vividly depicts every scene in the story. I could see every character as if they were standing in front of me. The change from Bothvar to Lura was easy to follow, as it labeled each chapter with their names. Bothvar's clan regards honor as the most important value to preserve. I found this contradictory because they killed, stole, and enslaved others to survive. I didn’t find their way of life honorable. Lura’s family values focus on helping others and while her father disapproves of her stealing, the poverty they live in almost requires her actions to eat. The steady development of the plot shows how Bothvar’s growth runs parallel to Lura’s story. Every page is full of action and important events that prevented me from putting the book down. The ending is the perfect cliffhanger; it leaves no doubts about my need to read the sequel. Fans of fantasy stories filled with well-developed characters, betrayal, redemption, and vengeance will enjoy Broken Souls. The Season Of The Cycles Series is definitely off to a great start.