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The Soul Thief Hardcover – Apr 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Forge; 1 edition (April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312848854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312848859
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.7 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,451,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Caz on 25 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been a fan for many years, and as far as I know this author is not for sale in the UK so every so often I treat myself, this as well as The Witches Kitchen was a treat. And throughly enjoyable as all her books are.
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Young Man's Quest among Vikings 4 Jun 2002
By sandy807 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
While young Corban is off in the hills, the Vikings come and slaughter the inhabitants of his village, but kidnap his twin sister, Mav. Enraged and desperate when he comes across the bodies of the rest of his family, Corban begins a journey to find Mav, who has Òsecond sightÓ. She is being held by the Lady of Hedeby, a witch-queen who wants to use MavÕs power to serve her own purposes for political domination of the regions of the North Sea.
Corban faces several obstacles on his journey, including a riveting storm at sea and attacks by thieves. In the town of Jorvik, he becomes involved with one of its oppressed families who lives under a mound of matted vegetation, just high enough to sit up inside. Three young girls care for their blind and senile father in this hovel, along with a few goats. The description of this place put me right there with this family; I could imagine the horrible stench inside from unwashed sweaty bodies, rotting vegetation, and goats in such close quarters. Later, as the story reaches its climax, Corban finds himself in a dangerous predicament, which puts both his life and his sisterÕs in danger, and the story picks up speed as events take an unexpected turn.
I found the era interesting, a time when Christianity was new and many clung to beliefs in the gods, such as Thor. But there is some fantasy and magic in the plot, which didnÕt appeal to me. I prefer historical fiction that is more factual, because I want to know how it really was. Yet, I did enjoy CorbanÕs adventures and meetings with interesting people. Many historical novels focus on the powerful and wealthy, and their luxurious way of life, but the characters in this book are poor and filthy, scrounging for food, and not particularly lovely, an interesting change from glamorous characters. Though I found the writing style somewhat simplistic, as if written for younger readers, its shorter length is just right for a quick and entertaining romp into the past.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Very Well Written 8 Jan 2010
By Ronin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The tale begins in Ireland and tragic events lead the main character to Jorvik (York) and Hedby in England. No dates are given (that I recall), but the characters Eirik & Gunnhild, and mention of Harald Hakon & Bluetooth, should place it somewhere around 933-940AD.

This was the 2nd Cecelia Holland book I read and while it is certainly not a fast-paced Viking tale, I definitely enjoyed it. Unlike many of the pulpy historical fiction books that have come out lately (like Conn Iggulden's crap), this story is true literature from a writer with some 44-years of experience. While the story is full of otherworldly mysticism, at the same time it is down to earth and offers a rare and accurate glimpse into the life of simple people living rather miserably in the rather miserable England of the time. There are no real superheros, but instead really just average people dealing with difficult circumstances and it is this quality that lends a rare authenticity to the tale.

The story is sparse on action. Many of the characters are foul, filthy, and really not very admirable. Its hard to like the vikings, the main character does not have any real outstanding qualities (or a sword), his companions border on worthless, and the women are destitute. The reader must cope with the harsh realities of being basically homeless and unable to afford food in an alien environment. Then there are the witches and the nobility, whom Ms. Holland slowly exposes over the course of the story in vague and tantalizing revelations. Between that and the challenges and obstacles the main character, Corban, must overcome, I found myself always curious to understand more and see how events unfold.

I believe this is the first of 6 viking tales from Ms. Holland. The next book, The Witches Kitchen, continues where Corban left off. This if followed by The Serpent Dreamer, Varanger, High City, and Kings of the North which she plans to release next summer.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Decent Read Set in the Viking World 8 Aug 2006
By Stuart W. Mirsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had decidedly mixed feelings on this one since it was hard to tell whether I was reading serious historical fiction or a fantasy. (I like the first genre quite a bit but am not entirely averse to the second and have enjoyed some books in this vein, too.) In the end the fantasy aspect of the tale won out as the book reaches its denouement with a somewhat rushed climax reminiscent of Dorothy's remarkable solution to all her travails in the Wizard of Oz. The book ends abruptly with this and with the suggestion of a sequel to follow which, of course, is already out there. I am, as it happens, somewhat impatient of books that are not self-contained though I'm well aware that the economics of publishing today seem to drive authors to produce more and more sequels and trilogies. I don't generally like the approach, myself, though I loved Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (which was, of course, not written to be a trilogy but only broken up into that because of the vastness of the story).

Anyway, Cecelia Holland is an accomplished historical novelist though I have not always loved her work. Here she returns to the viking milieu which she did so well in Two Ravens, a wonderful viking tale she wrote in the early days of her career. This time the story follows an Irish brother and sister, fraternal twins who are psychically linked. Mav, the sister, is kidnapped by vikings when her family is otherwise wiped out and Corban, her ne'er-do-well brother who has been driven from the family hearth, returns to find the destruction and begin a relentless search to win her freedom.

Mav falls into the hands of a mysterious Norse witch who, sensing Mav's psychic powers and her link with Corban, determines to use both of them for her purposes. This witch is in a deadly contest with Queen Gunnhild, another notorious Norse witch and wife of the viking king Eric Bloodaxe who has been driven from his throne in Norway by a half brother, Hakon Haraldsson.

The story, however, is less about adventure and men and women who do great things than it is about seemingly ordinary common people, like the simple and oddly lucky Irish refugee, Corban, who finds himself adrift in the world while searching for his sister and his luck. Corban stumbles about and, through his kindness and sincerity, manages to overcome the most ruthless ambition, ferocity and venality that cross his path at every turn.

The story itself is not particularly powerful or compelling but it's interesting and has a connection to North America taken directly out of Norse history and saga tradition which I particularly appreciated. The book's interesting and enjoyable though it lacks the depth and power Holland's earlier Two Ravens, a more serious if less ambitious historical tale, manifested. It's worth reading if you enjoy Norse history along with fantasy and don't mind seeing them mixed overmuch as they are here. But I'm still undecided as to whether I'll follow these characters on their future excursions in subsequent books.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A story of courage, faith, love, strategy 13 Aug 2002
By Dawn Kessinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Corban is banished from his family when his father disowns him while cursing him as a coward. The story of Corban's quest to find out what he's made of - and how he draws on reserves of strategy, strength, and courage that he never knew he had along the way - begins the day after his father disowns him, when almost all of his family is viciously slaughtered by the Vikings. Only his sister, Mav, has survived, and the Vikings have taken her as a slave. Corban begins a long journey to find Mav and rescue her from the Lady of Hedeby, a witch who wants to use both siblings for her gain: from Mav, she wants to sap the young girl's gift of second sight; from Corban, she wants to manipulate King Eric Bloodaxe, who rules in Jorvik with a greedy and bloody iron fist. In Jorvik, Corban finds friends and true love, and possibly a way to save himself and his sister from the Lady of Hedeby... only that way is unknown to him and unseen by his sister until the final fateful moment of truth. The Soul Thief brims with action, self-discovery and worth, and heart - a worthwhile tale of hope and love despite the many hardships that good people face.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A sweeping Viking Tale 31 Aug 2003
By Tara A. Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book from start to finish had me entranced. I believe this has to do primarily with Cecelia Holland being a truly gifted story teller. No matter where she took the story, I wanted to follow.
Corban's growth from a young boy to manhood, is swift as he is faced with the total destruction of his family. His connection with his sister leads him on his journey to save her, where he meets all sorts of people who will become important in his life.
The one part I did not enjoy in this book, was the telepathic connection with his sister. This book is rich in historical detail and I feel this detracted from the richness of the story.
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