[Mother of Souls] is a quiet book, not a flashy one. And Jones is ambitious in the kind of quiet stories she’s choosing to tell: it is an unusual choice in a fantasy novel to have the politics and sorcery, although an integral part of the story, come second (not co-equal with, but very definitely second) to character growth and development. Mother of Souls is an interesting novel, and a compelling one.
In Heather Rose Jones’s Alpennia women’s lives are central: their complex, richly-imagined relationships, their talents and skills, their resourcefulness and strengths. Yet this is not a “domestic” tale in the sense of smallness of scope; the fate of Alpennia (and its European neighbors) is at stake as the land comes under magical attack, and the key to its defeat lies in the gifts of the women and their ability to work cooperatively. With intelligence and insight, Jones spins a tale of international intrigue, suspense, treachery, and loyalty.
Mother of Souls is the first book in Heather Rose Jones's Alpennian series that I feel achieved it's full potential. With each book building off the previous volume everything started to click into place over time and here with the larger cast of characters there was a better balance than just the two previous couples featured. ...among all these characters there is a strong theme of female empowerment running rife. This book is a rallying cry, as is the opera Luzie writes about the female philosopher Tanfrit who is only remembered through her connection to the male philosopher Gaudericus! Women have been told to be quiet for far too long! Men are always keeping us down and taking credit for what we do and when that can't work just erasing us from history. I literally can not think of a woman who won't identify with Luzie's relationship with the composer Fizeir.
I love this series. It’s expertly penned, the prose style is tense and concise, it’s convincing in terms of characterisation and you just find yourself completely absorbed by the whole idea of Alpennia and its mysterious inhabitants.
The characters are interesting and complex and likable, and the 1820s European politics are well-grounded. I found it a very satisfying book, and a fitting follow-up to the previous two. I hope to see more in this world. Good fantasy doesn't have to be grimdark, really it doesn't! I'll confess to reading this one slowly, to make it last. Highly recommended.