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The Jack of Souls

(The Unseen Moon #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  664 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Harric is an outcast rogue who must break a curse put on his fate, or die on his nineteenth birthday. As the day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul.

To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help—and a lot of it—but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts.
Paperback, First Edition, 374 pages
Published December 12th 2014 by Tortoise Rampant Press (first published December 6th 2014)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  664 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Stefan Bach
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
First chapter here reminded me of Richard K. Morgan’s beginning of his book The Steel Remains:

“When a man you know to be of sound mind tells you his recently deceased mother has just tried to climb in his bedroom window and eat him, you only have two basic options. You can smell his breath, take his pulse and check his pupils to see if he's ingested anything nasty. Or you can believe him.”

And Harric, main protagonist of this book, finds himself in similar situation.
After partyin
Karen Duvall
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of epic fantasy
Shelves: best-books
This is the best book I've read in years! Fabulous story, amazing characters. I can hardly wait for the next one. ...more
Barb Taub
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
That moment. You know the one… you’ve just read the last page of the last book of your current series-obsession, the one that has been the answer to every spare moment since… hmm… Now what? You’ve read all ten volumes of The Belgariad (okay, and all six of The Elenium). You’ve worn out your box set of LOTR, not to mention watched every one of the movies (extended version). You’ve even (shudder) found yourself thinking it might not be so bad to watch the entire Harry Potter series again. Sherlock ...more
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

Trickster Harric has a curse he needs to break, set by his loving mother. Caris longs to be a knight, but is hindered by her horse-sense. Willard carries an ambassador and gift towards the Queen. As their lives intertwine through a series of accidents, each must fight for what they want.

The blurb on the back of the book suggests a lot more action
Jessie Stevens
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Harric is a good guy.

He saves damsels in distress because it’s the right thing to do. (And also, he likes girls.)

He’s joined up with folks who are off to save the land from evil. (But he needed to get out of town quick anyway.)

He keeps in contact with his mother. (Unfortunately she’s dead and working hard to kill him too.)

He thinks carefully about making the right decisions. (Except for those highly questionable situations that he dives headlong into.)

And he works hard selling his wares. (While
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
This was a novel that I had some trouble pinning down my feelings on - it was fun, exciting at times, and the ending was extremely satisfying. At the same time, some concepts were just barely breached by the time the book finished, and it felt like a set-up novel much more than a self-contained piece to me. That said, I enjoyed it, Merlino's writing was solid and enjoyable, and I did like the characters quite a bit. ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First, full disclosure: I know the author and helped to fund the novel through his Kickstarter campaign. That said, I offer here what I believe to be my considered evaluation of the book. In other words, what follows is my story and I stand by it. Jack of Souls is one of the best works of epic fantasy I've read in a great while. Lovers of the genre will delight in the rich details of the world Merlino builds, a world that includes a system of magic that involves the highest of stakes. Populating ...more
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this story! Follow the trickster Harric, the horse-touched female knight Caris, and ex-immortal with an addiction problem Willard on an epic journey with Ambassador Brolli as they race to protect the Queen and her throne from the Old Ones, who wish to rule again. Set in a magical world with fantastic characters, intrigue, and action... The Jack of Souls is an adventure that has it all.
Deep S
Jun 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans, Trier of new themes, People with time
I picked up this book based on good reviews. It promised to be good book with some Epic story and a different paradigm.
First of all I would like to say that it is not a Epic story.Yes its a different paradigm of Magic of moons and souls. I like the character of Harric and the concept of JACK of Souls(A trickster or Con artist).
Harric is Doomed by his mother and is supposed to die by nightfall. He saves himself by performing 20 cons and leaves the town with the help of Carris and Lyla.
Knight Will
Sharon Martin
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Jack of Souls is not the type of genre I normally read because I tend to have problems following the fantasy world and it's creatures but I have to say that this author has won me over with his novel.

The story line is full of magical spells and beliefs. Trying to find out a way of breaking the curse his mother had put upon him at birth and when Sir Willard arrives, a knight of fame, Harric's life is suddenly changed.

The language used and descriptive writing is very good. The scenes and chara
Chrissy (The Every Free Chance Reader)
Did I enjoy this book: Everyone else says it’s awesome–it’s won awards and everything–but I just couldn’t really invest in this one. The writing was fine, and my only real complaint is that I think all the fight scenes slowed down the pace a bit too much, but . . . I don’t know. I spent most of the book waiting for the good part and, well, it just never came. It isn’t bad–not even a little bit–there just wasn’t enough emotional content for me. Perhaps the next installment will have more intense ...more
Elizabeth Fantham
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this book.

Filled with action, good character development, unique characters not always in the majority of fantasy novels. It was a good find for sure.

I really enjoyed the authors style and some times lyrical or poetic writing. Little bits of it here and there. There were some flaws, but overall it was fantastic.

The only cruddy part was realizing the next novel has yet to be published. I almost always make sure the Author is consistent with releasing books before I dive in. I
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Flash Announcement! Guest Author Novel Hits #1 on an Amazon Best Seller List

This winter, guest author Stephen Merlino published the fantasy novel, The Jack of Souls, and on February 19 it hit #1 on Amazon’s Fantasy Coming of Age eBook Best Seller list.
“I’m not sure how long it’s been up there,” Merlino said. “My wife just noticed it today, and when she showed me my head fell off. When I found it and put it back on, I looked again, and it was still there at the top of the list. But look quick,
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book had interesting concepts running around. You have a 'thief' Harric who is cursed to die (view spoiler). Then you have a pre-warrior figure in Carris who is also horse-minded according to the author. Merlino made her a special case of the condition pretty early on, but it appears to be condition that can occur in any famil ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing start ...

This was an intriguing book which left me by turns wanting more and wishing there was less. The wold-building is good if a little confusing. The plot is interesting if a little slow. The big-bad is unusual as well as disgusting. The heroes are engaging but sometimes shallow. Such a mixture. Without giving too much way the book deals with a reluctant trickster, his peculiar partner, an idolised but fading champion, and a talking, magic wielding ‘orangutan’ and their fight a
Julian White
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the better books I've read recently - whch is why it has 5 stars (it's certainly as good as some books I've awarded that maximum and better than others). A 19 year old rogue (the 'Jack' in the title) escapes a lethal curse by outplaying his dead mother - only to become embroiled in events 'far above his pay grade'. Fleeing the small sttlement where he has lived for years he is in company with a disgraced Knight escorting a foreign Ambassador in disguise - and a friend from his imm ...more
Epper Marshall
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: magic, adventure, sword
Do you want to read a book that seems like it should be book 2 or 3. Then this is the book for you. A history that is never quite explained fully, unique races/castes/blood types, and a magic system that also doesn't seem to make sense.
The main character has been trained by his now dead mother, but you don't see this growth/progress. Even in his starting location though there are relationships and backstory that are referenced but it never goes into detail. Everyone seems to hate magic except th
Taylor Watkins
Wow, wow, wow. I am absolutely shocked. I can't tell you how much I loved this book! Usually, I'm not so much a fan of the fantasy genre unless it's urban fantasy or magical realism, but I'll be darned if The Jack of Souls by author Stephen C. Merlino didn't blow me away!

See my full review here:

This novel is the first in the Unseen Moon series, and you'd better believe that I'm spending the $3.99 on Kindle to buy the second book! Ultimately, if you're a f
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Jack of Souls

I enjoyed this book after a fashion, it was hard to get my head around all the new ideas the Author threw up. But still no less enjoyable for all that, Harric and Caris were great main characters along with Willard the ex Immortal, and pretty hard to get a read on which way they were going to jump. The Immortal Knights were a great addition and great antagonists. It was also a freebie, what's not to like. Fab
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I went into reading this with no expectations whatsoever and was heartily surprised. Now, this is definitely not for the faint of heart, and had I known how gruesome it would be I would not have read it. It doesn't hide the atrocities of war with guazy sweetness or pretty fantasies.
For my clean readers:
Includes an abundance of language, violence around every corner, witchcraft, murder, rape, deceit and betrayal, raising of the dead and interacting with them in spirit form, and torture.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well written, easy to follow read with twists and turns that keep you captivated. An interesting take on the the different characters. It will you you guessing as the plot unfolds with intriguing little tid-bits. I really ejoyed how Stephen brought this tale to life.
Sarah B
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book off of a recommendation from a friend who told me her high school English teacher wrote it. I should've known better than to doubt her because this book surprised me in the best way by being incredible--original, well-written, and best of all, impossible to put down. I can't wait to read the next one! ...more
Doug Peters
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mostly-audiobook
Picked this audiobook up on sale from Chirp. The narrator, Alex Wyndhman, was excellent. Great range of voices and great energy.

The book itself was good, if not a tad bit bloated with too many different fantasy elements. I really liked it overall, though, and I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting magic system. I'll be continuing at some point with Book 2.
2.5 stars

The world and characters are interesting, though a bit confusing. But I the ending didn't really work for me. It sorta had a possible pause moment but I did not feel like the buildup had created a sense of even semiconclusion or resolution there. It feels more cut off on the way somewhere else.
Lisa Churchill
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful fantasy world

It's been a while since I read a fantasy story a great as this. The characters are well written, the story line is gripping and the world sounds both beautiful and terrifying. I can't wait to get started on the next book.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow start

It was slow going at the beginning, and a little confusing, but it soon sorted itself out and became quite an interesting, action packed, magic wielding good guys and bad guys new world of fantasy. I will get book two.
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack of Souls - a very compelling fantasy

This book has everything that any fantasy fan requires, deeply drawn characters, compelling storyline and dialogue, exciting battle scenes, and cliffhanger endings which leave the reader eager to discover more. Highly recommended reading.
Jo Awalt
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked it ....

I liked the charters and the start of the story. It lost me about two chapters from the end. I made myself finish the book just not sure about getting the next one. Maybe later on just not now.
Dec 03, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 rounded down to 3 because of way too many redundant fight scenes. Im not a huge action book or movie person but don’t mind fight scenes as long as they aren’t all EXACTLY THE SAME.

Other than that, I did enjoy the story and characters.
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Stephen Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays and teaches English to teens. He lives with the world's most desirable woman and two fabulous children, one cat, and three attack chickens.

Growing up in Seattle in constant rain drove Stephen indoors as a child, so he ended up reading a lot. When at the age of eleven he discovered J.R.R. Tolkein, Terry Brooks, and other fantasy writers,

Other books in the series

The Unseen Moon (2 books)
  • The Jack of Ruin: A Rogue & Knight Adventure (The Unseen Moon Book 2)

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