Enthralling YA fantasy
THE SOUL OF POWER is a strong conclusion in The Waking Land trilogy. While the first book focused on Elanna (El) and the second on Jahan, this third book is all about Sophy Dunbarron, now the queen of Eren and Caeris. This book requires the context of the first two to really get into and thus does not work as a stand-alone. Eren and Caeris were countries once together but have separated becoming enemies and having one conquer the other. They were both under the power of Paladis, and sorcery has been outlawed/thought to be evil.
El, the Caveadear or steward of the land, has awakened the land and participated in the rebellion of the people against the then rulers. Now, installing Sophy and fighting against neighboring kingdoms, she is captured by Paladis and their Witch Hunters. Sophy has already sent Jahan to Paladis as ambassador, and her hold on the people is tenuous with hatred between Ereni and Caerisians still lying under the surface. As Sophy tries to navigate the political landscape, she must worry about other rebellions and dissatisfactions- and the secret she carries.
As tensions continue to rise, Sophy is increasingly aware of the difficulties of ruling. She must decide not only what is best for the people but also for herself as she fills the role she was raised to fill. While the characters from previous books are present here, there are many new characters and/or old characters who are now given larger roles, that are completely enchanting. This whole series is filled with extraordinarily well-crafted people who leap off the page in their descriptions and mannerisms. Each book has completely brought me into this realm.
This book has less romance than in the past, as Sophy is already with Alistair. Her main objectives are career-related (if we can call ruling the country as such), and this is always refreshing in the YA literature. The world is so well-crafted that it is easy to imagine and completely enthralling, much in the way of high fantasy books like Lord of the Rings. This whole series has been such a fascinating and engaging ride that I highly recommend for people who like YA or adult fantasy, and especially for fans of The Girl of Fire and Thorns series.
Overall, this is a great finale in a fantastic series, and I highly recommend you read it from start to finish. With beautifully crafted characters and amazing world-building, The Waking Land trilogy is a wonderfully enthralling journey. I would add warnings for rape (past/not in detail), sexism, torture (not described in detail), and gruesome deaths.