In the world of Potara, the ancient Greek and Egyptian societies lived on, evolving and developing new technologies based around the energies of the universe. Some special individuals are even able to wield these energies with the power of their minds alone. They are The Gifted. A child of prophecy is promised to accomplish great things for Potara. Fortunately, he was found, a young boy named Leoros from another world, the planet Earth. Unfortunately, after being trained, he followed a powerful enemy back to Earth and was trapped there upon defeating him.
The Soul of the World picks up two years after the events of The Emerald Tablet, which not only pushes many of the heroes’ ages into the teens but provides plenty of opportunity to catch up with the many characters. A major highlight for me was slowly learning what had transpired for each of them during the time gap. The Soul of the World has a large cast with six primary viewpoint characters telling four different stories. While that makes for a lot of story to tell, writer Joshua Silverman switches back and forth and gives each of them equal attention and importance.
One of the things I adore about this second book is that it gets out of the city and places its storylines in every corner of Potara. Silverman greatly expands the setting this time around and continues to do a great job of bringing in Greek and Egyptian history to reinforce it and goes to greater lengths to make Potara more fantastical this time around. Silverman also uses this book to greatly expand the cast list, equipping each of these characters with new allies that help to bring out their many virtues and faults.
One of the interesting changes this time around is that writer Joshua Silverman focuses less on the fact that Dio, Leoros, Kem, and Atlantia are Gifted and their abilities and more on who they are as individuals. While the first time around Kem was clearly made out to be the bad guy, in The Soul of the World his power-hungry attitude and the reasoning behind it are more closely examined. I wouldn’t say I ever rooted for the guy, but I understood him more after this book, and this entry makes it clear the others are not without their own faults: Leoros’ arrogance, Atlantia’s lack of confidence, even the tough as nails Dio falls into depression. The Soul of the World breaks these characters apart and then starts the journey to pull them back together, and each of them is a better character for the journey.
As a consequence of this change in focus, there are fewer intense action scenes this time around. It’s a smart shift, but I’ll confess to missing the intensity of The Emerald Tablet‘s climax and kept waiting to learn about a new energy of the universe; there are a whole lot of colors left after all, or another of the worlds. While the action and the developments are better spread throughout this book, The Soul of the World has four stories to tell and has a weaker climax as a result, as it has to wrap up each story one after another, although the final hook for each is as intriguing as the finale of The Emerald Tablet and far more satisfying.
Overall, the mechanics of Silverman’s writing have been greatly tightened this time around. Tighter pacing, better character explorations, and the switch to past tense, labeling sections, and seamlessly moving to and from flashbacks make for a more engrossing read this time around.