The whispers followed her. Since her first rebuke they persisted in their pursuit, distant yet clear, they offered the same deal. Power. Freedom. They swelled when she acknowledged them, the fierce static eschewing reality in its sudden onset.
Exiled from his home and his noble heritage in disgrace, Rurik toils in the mines of an ancient, underground ruin as foreman to a group of breakers: prisoners, cutthroats, and dregs of society forced into indentured servitude.
His responsibility to his crew weighs heavily on his conscience-for even the most minor job can prove fatal, and earning his life back can only be paid for with the lives of his friends. With his absence, his twin sister, Arkalis, is left to deal with Rurik's failures.
With a hostile occupation of her family's lands and new responsibilities as her ailing father's heir she finds herself trapped in an impossible situation, one she'd rather drink her way through.
Accosted on all sides, neither could foresee their actions as the spark to an apocalyptic war, one responsible for the emergence of dark gods long since thought defeated. Chaos, it seems, is their last hope.
The Soul of Chaos is the first book in the Litanies of the Lost Star series, a dark fantasy series written by Gregory Wunderlin, and which mashes fantasy with some sci-fi esque elements. An adventurous fantasy which follows mainly two POVs, Rurik and Arkalis, in a world full of details, and a civilization which was extinguished a thousand years ago are some of the elements of this story.
A plot that starts a bit confusing, throwing you in the middle of the situation, not holding your hand and trusting you to start composing the image; Rurik with his band of breakers trying to get a profit from a dangerous job recovering valuable artifacts from underground ruins. A work that many times is paid with the lives of some of his mates.
Meanwhile, Arkalis, his twin sister, has been left having to deal with the result of his absence. Only heir to her father, and with his decadence, she's full of new obligations, accompanied by an invasion; the problems are just driving her to alcoholism.
With this premise, we have a story that is slowly unraveled into a world that has a rich previous history; the addition of small tidbits of lore and documents that only inspire more curiosity into the reader. In some aspects, this book drinks from classic fantasy, but with some modern additions that are well received, such as the egalitarianism between men and women.
The writing style is quite particular, and personally, I think it can be hit or miss for many people; long descriptions are the norm, and it can be quite verbose at occasions. Some dialogues are untagged, and can become a bit complicated to follow if you are not fully focused in the reading.
The Soul of Chaos is a perfect book for those looking for a modernised version of classic fantasy with some dark touches; a great debut, and which shows what Gregory Wunderlin can do.
Gregory's first story was a detective short with only dialog. Despite his mother telling him he should really reconsider his life goals, he summarily ignored her and doubled down to accomplish his dreams of conning people into paying him for those very same words. Now, he works as a professional nerd, writing adventure modules and mechanics for TTRPGs, while obsessing over second worlds that make it into fanciful stories that tend to favor swords. Most of his success is owed to his wife, who outclasses him in just about every way, but still insists he's actually good at this and he may be starting to believe her.
Recently, he won an award from Literary Titan for "hey that book is pretty cool" (I think that was the category), so technically he can call himself an award-winning author now.