The first two books in The Soulfire Saga: The Darkness Before Them and The Fire
Within Them (Orbit, November 7, 2023 and June 11, 2024). Covers by Joe Wilson
I spent the Christmas break working on a number of projects, and not doing any of the catch-up reading I promised myself. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I did grit my teeth on January 1st and resolve to read more this year. Especially books from new writers.
I have a break coming up as I complete a big writing project, and as a reward I have my eye on the new fantasy series from Matthew Ward. He’s the author of the Legacy Trilogy, and this new project — featuring a thief caught up in a failed heist, on her way to the capital to be turned into an animated skeleton — sounds like just what I need. Adrian Collins at GrimDark Magazine says it’s “full of action, heart, betrayal, and set in a dark, engaging world,” and that’s all the recommendation I need.
[Click the images for darker versions.]
Back cover for The Darkness Before Them
Here’s an excerpt from Adrian’s detailed review.
Matthew Ward follows up his utterly magnificent Legacy trilogy (Legacy of Ash, Legacy of Steel, Legacy of Light) with a completely new dark fantasy world in The Darkness Before Them. Kat is a thief who has inherited her father’s towering debt. She takes a risk with her partner Azra to steal the ultimate big score from the family in control of their city. When the heist goes wrong and a mysterious warrior attacks her, Kay’s world is thrown upside down as she is tossed behind bars and shipped to the capital to become a koilos – an animated skeleton protecting the rich – as punishment.
On the other side of the social divide, Damant is the shrewd advisor to the matriarch of the city’s ruling family, constantly reminded of his dark past of bloody failure as the brigand Vallant, once his protege, wreaks havoc with his terrorist attacks.
As the story takes us on dark adventures of discovery and danger both Kat and Damant face the dangers of a collapsing ruling family in a brutal society where the few fight back against the faceless many to scrape a survival, and they do this while the veil creeps ever closer, the spirits of the dead just waiting to absorb them into nothingness…
The Darkness Before Them is an epic dark fantasy written in Ward’s clean, easy to digest style that I have enjoyed so much for so long. Full of action, heart, betrayal, and set in a dark, engaging world, this book continues Ward’s ability to deliver doorstopper dark fantasy that you just can’t put down.
Orbit Books did a cover launch for Book II in the series, The Fire Within Them, on December 19, and gave us a peak at the storyline.
The second book in the action-packed new trilogy from epic fantasy author Matthew Ward, the Soulfire Saga is set in a world ruled by an immortal king, where souls fuel magic and a supernatural mist known as the Veil threatens to engulf the land. Perfect for readers of John Gwynne and Anthony Ryan.
The sprawling Kingdom of Khalad stands alone. Severed from the rest of the world by an ancient, arcane war, its folk toil behind a wall of living mist, beholden to an undead king and his barons.
But hope lies with two figures: Kat, an accomplished thief, and Vallant, a rebel and folk hero. Together they will light a fire that will burn away the corruption and tyranny of King Diar’s rule.
But only if they succeed…
Here’s the publishing deets.
The Darkness Before Them (576 pages, $19.99 in trade paperback/$9.99 digital, November 7, 2023)
The Fire Within Them ($21.99 in trade paperback/$9.99 digital, June 11, 2024)
See all our coverage of the best new fantasy here.