Editorial Review: Soulstealer Origins by Reed Logan Westgate
Rumors of an ancient relic buried in the Mátra Mountains draw the attention of the Knights Templar, who are desperate to save their order which is on the brink of destruction. However, the weapon they discover is an awakened Soulstealer who could be more monster than man.
The Baku trilogy by Reed Logan Westgate is filled with memorable characters, and apart from the protagonist Xlina Dar’Karrow, it was the enigmatic necromancer Oxivius who stole the show. Soulstealer Origins features a return to the “Baku-verse” but is set hundreds of years before the events of the original trilogy. The story begins in 1010 AD, when Oxivious is hunted down and stripped of his purpose as the pale rider by the Raven Queen and her Dark Druid. It then picks up again in 1303 with a group of Knights Templar, under the command of Sir Marcus Le’heroux, venturing into the Hungarian wilderness. Their mission is to locate an ancient relic rumored to be buried in the Mátra Mountains. The holy order of knights plans on wielding this weapon against a fiendish monster from beyond the mist that is decimating their numbers. However, after suffering heavy casualties, the remaining knights discover that the so-called weapon is actually a Soulstealer who has been imprisoned in the mountain for almost 300 years.
Soulstealer Origins chronicles how Oxivious is freed from his mountainous prison after striking a bargain with the Knights Templar. Although initially treated as a monster, Oxivious soon befriends Marcus as the two spend a lot of time in each other’s company. However, Oxivious also gets drawn into treachery and politics, threatening the Knights Templar from within and without.
Using the Middle Ages as a setting for Soulstealer Origins makes for a very different story compared to The Bakue Trilogy. Nevertheless, the book is every bit as compelling, and seeing the world through the eyes of Oxivious is fascinating. Despite his dark nature and monstrous powers, it is often the seemingly ordinary people that he and Marcus encounter who are the biggest monsters. Since the book is a prequel, it is not necessary to have read the Bakue Trilogy. However, those who have done so will be delighted by the introduction of a few familiar faces. While this is very much Oxivious’s story, he’s not the only one blessed with an unusually long lifespan, and discovering how and where he encountered some of his “old” friends is a treat for fans of the series.
Fans of the Baku Trilogy will know that it was filled with action, intrigue, and plenty of memorable scenes. Soulstealer Origins continues in the same vein and demonstrates that Reed Logan Westgate can weave compelling stories and create engaging characters no matter what time period he uses. In addition, the story takes many twists and turns but wraps up in a satisfying manner instead of a cliffhanger. Fans will be left counting down the days until the second book in the trilogy, though, as Soulstealer Origins sets things up perfectly for the next installment.
Overall, Soulstealer Origins delivers precisely what fans of the Baku Trilogy asked for, which is more of Oxivious Soulforge. Although the tale draws on actual events and historical figures, it doesn’t let any of this get in the way of telling a great story with plenty of edge-of-your-seat scenes and shocking revelations.