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Heart of Iron #2

Soul of Stars

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The highly awaited sequel to Heart of Iron, Soul of Stars is a thrilling sci-fi adventure packed with romance, shocking twists, and witty banter, perfect for fans of Six of Crows and Cinder.

Once, Ana was an orphaned space outlaw. Then she was the Empress of the Iron Kingdom. Now, thought dead by most of the galaxy after she escaped from the dark AI program called the HIVE, Ana is desperate for a way to save Di from the HIVE’s evil clutches and take back her kingdom.

Ana’s only option is to find Starbright, the one person who has hacked into the HIVE and lived to tell the tale. But when Ana’s desperation costs the crew of the Dossier a terrible price, Ana and her friends are sent spiraling through the most perilous reaches of the Iron Kingdom to stop the true arbiter of evil in her world: an ancient world-ending deity called the Great Dark.

Their journey will take the sharp-witted pilot, Jax, to the home he never wanted to return to, and the dangerous fate he left behind. And when Robb finds out who Jax really is, he must contend with his own feelings for the boy he barely knows, and whether he truly belongs with this group of outcasts.

When facing the worst odds, can Ana and her crew of misfits find a way to stop the Great Dark once and for all?

430 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 23, 2019

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About the author

Ashley Poston

19 books7,455 followers
New York Times best-seller by day, fanfic author by night.

Viist her at www.ashposton.com.

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5 stars
552 (35%)
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602 (38%)
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347 (22%)
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50 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 278 reviews
Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
305 reviews14.5k followers
November 5, 2020
Check out this review (and more) over on my blog!

Quick Stats:
4.5/5 Stars
Characters: 4/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 4/5
Awesomeness Factor: 4.5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Soul of Stars is an out-of-this-world sequel. And I’m not sorry for that pun.

“Love was stubborn, and love was impatient, and thoughtless and self-centered and vainglorius. It hid in the crevices of your soul when you thought it had run away, and it never left-- like a scar: deep and ugly and enduring.”

// Content Warning: Violence, Death //

Release Date: 7/23/2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count: 400 pages
Soul of Stars takes place several months after the heartbreaking events of Heart of Iron. Our main characters are still trying to deal with what happened (honestly, so am I), all while trying to save their friend and the kingdom.

- Writing & Setting-

The one thing I love about this series is just how easy it is to be immersed in the world and the writing. There’s no slowly adapting to this new galaxy, instead you’re thrown in and are easily able to understand all of it. The writing in Soul of Stars is just as good as Heart of Iron, if not better. There are a few fun references hidden in the book that made me so happy when I found them (including an “In A Crowd of Thousands” reference that killed me). The setting is also fantastic, and this book definitely builds on the galaxy that was established in the first book in fantastic ways.

- Plot -

This book had it’s work cut out for itself, having to tie up all of the loose ends from Heart of Iron while still matching the fun and adventurous tone… and it definitely succeeded. Soul of Stars is full of action and adventure. This book has plenty of plot twists and reveals (although they are a little predictable) , as well as a crazy fast past. There was something always happening and a few other things building up in the background. That said, sometimes it can feel a little too fast with no moments of rest. Also, while I liked the ending, I just wanted a little more. I needed just a few more pages for the ending to be perfect. However, I guess that isn’t the worst thing to want after finishing a book.

- Characters -

This book is a perfect mix of characters I’d die for, and characters I don’t really care much about. To be honest, that has to do with Heart of Iron. The first book made me love some characters, while other characters and relationships felt a little too rushed or sidelined, and now this book pays the price of that. There were definitely a few moments that didn’t have the emotional impact they could have because I just didn’t have that strong of a connection to the characters. Despite that, I still adore most of the characters in this book and find them pretty well written (if not amazingly written). I mean, Di is just my favorite (I guess I can’t say person?) thing ever, and this book made me love his character even more. Ana, Robb, and Jax are all amazing as well, I just pick favorites. This book definitely gave me more of an appreciation for Robb and Siege than the first book did.
One thing I really loved in this book is that it isn’t solely up to a bunch of teenagers to save the universe. While I don’t hate that, it was really refreshing to see these teens being helped out by actual adults and having decent family relationships (I just love the found-family trope). Also, did I mention all of the queer characters in the book? Because oh boy are they there and I am so happy. There are a few lgbtq+ relationships plus a nonbinary character!!

- Conclusion -

Pros- Great & diverse characters, interesting world, perfect resolution
Cons- Struggled connecting with some characters, I needed more!
Overall- 4.5/5 stars.
Soul of Stars was absolutely worth the wait. This book will tear your heart out (if Heart of Iron didn’t already) and have you wanting more.

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Profile Image for Amber J.
918 reviews65 followers
May 30, 2023
I try to express only my most honest opinion in a spoiler free way. If you feel anything in my review is a spoiler and is not already hidden in spoiler brackets please let me know. Thank you.

This is the second book of a duology. I fell in love with the first book after the first three chapters and I am so glad I decided to read it. This book leaves off after the first book ended on a cliffhanger.

There are so many characters in this book, each with there own wonderful personalities. The book has so much diversity as well.

While I am loving the Ana/Di romance, I would have read this book just for the Jax/Robb romance. All the relationships between the character are great though. They are such a close knit group of friends that its easy to see why they are a family.

The plot was decent. It didn't feel like it had the same heart-pounding action that the first had but it did come all to a great conclusion. I was left with a few questions though. Such as, what exactly is the great dark? What did it want? Where did it come from? Oh well, guess I'll never know.

It was great to be able to learn more about Di and his past. That was probably one of my favorite parts of this book was being able to see more of his history. Surprising to me who he was, and those he knew though.

I do wanna express that I knew who the spy was right away. I don't know if the author was trying to make it obvious or not, but to me it was extremely obvious.

All in all a great book and a great series. I'm a little sad that there isn't more to this series. The book is all wrapped up at the end so I'm sure its meant to be the end. I will miss it and might come back and re-read it some day. I'll definitely be reading more of Ashely Poston's work and following for anything new.

How I choose my rating:
1* Hated it. Had to force myself to finish it.
2** Didn't really like it. Didn't hate it but not sure why I finished it other then for some closure.
3*** I liked it. I had some issues with it, but as a whole it was good. I probably won't reread again ever, but there is a chance I might finish the series. (If part of one) But if not it's not a huge loss.
4**** I really liked this book. Maybe not a work of genius, but highly entertaining. I might reread this again, and I will finish the series. (If part of one) I would recommend to those I know hold interest in this books content.
5***** I loved this book. I found little to no issues with it at all. I will definitely be rereading this and probably more than once. I will finish the series and reread it multiple times. (If part of one) I will recommend this book to EVERYONE!!!!

Profile Image for Angelica.
814 reviews1,148 followers
Want to read
June 22, 2019
This cover.

I didn't love book one, but I can't even deny that I kinda want this book, and I kinda want it now.
Profile Image for Jodi Meadows.
Author 29 books4,626 followers
March 7, 2020
This was such a fun duology. Adventure, spaceships, and romance -- just my kind of thing.
Profile Image for Sharon.
506 reviews272 followers
September 26, 2019
Mediocre plot but likable characters.

Here are some of my thoughts (on both the 1st and 2nd books):
• I love Di since his first chapter. I like his character especially in Book 1 – he is logical but also adorably sassy and surprisingly caring for a “robot.” His character is easy to like, especially when you can tell how much he cares for Ana and the rest of the crew. His story definitely becomes more angsty than I would have expected and preferred. In Book 2, I find his Emperor chapters blah. It is good riddance when he finally remembers who he is. It’s a little exhausting to be honest with all the switching and confusion of identities. Thus, I guess I like his character less in Book 2, but still he’s my favorite from this series.
• Ana is not a bad character, but tbh annoying at times with her hot-headedness. Also, I am not saying she was “useless” because she did do some stuff – but I… guess I would have liked to see her do more. I mean she is a rogue but also an empress – and I just wanted a bit more ass-kicking from her and power moments.
• Robb – I appreciate the character developments.
• Jax is confident and funny – love him.
• Also, of course I ship Robb and Jax. They are super cute in this.
• Di and Ana’s friendship/relationship is cute. That is one of the things I have enjoyed most when I read Book 1. In Book 2, this book has more memories than present moments b/w them. I would have wanted more present moments, although the memories are cute to see, especially since they were established from chapter 1, so it’s nice to get a glimpse of the “before.” I love their strong connection. This book has made their romance exhausting in its angstiness - but I still overall love this.
• Interesting reveals about Captain Siege. I did not care for her character in Book 1, but she has become such a heart-warming figure in this book. I love that she is like a mother to both Di and Robb.
• This book reminds me of a mixture of Anastasia with the lost empress and memory lost and fire, The Lunar Chronicles (which also has a lost princess with memory loss and fire btw) with the cyborgs and ship crew, and Constellations with the question of if a robot can have feelings.
• I appreciate the diversity and LGBTQ+ representation.
• The friendships and the crew camaraderie – I love.

I have enjoyed this, but unfortunately enjoyed this less than Book 1. I do like how I have come to like certain characters and how they interact with one another. I really like the romance but like it less in this book with the drama. Overall, I’m giving book 1 3 stars and book 2 2.5 stars.

Things that you might want to know (WARNING: Spoilers below)
Happy/satisfying ending?
Love triangle? Cheating? Angst level?
Favorite scenes?
Profile Image for Sara Saif.
544 reviews224 followers
November 26, 2019

Heart of Iron, when I read it more than a year ago, vowed me so much I lamented that I couldn't read the sequel sooner. And by lamented I mean I felt actual PANGS. Those are super rare. Which is why it saddens me to no end that the sequel did not have that magic the first book did.
I kept trying to feel that same feeling of enchantment, it did not come.

That was the biggest letdown about this book, one that is completely personal. The second thing is, it was predictable and underwhelming because of it. The first book had all the plot twists and revelations. This book was the aftermath and it was terribly easy to figure out how it would end. Happily, of course. Not that I'm against happy endings. There was no element of surprise in this book.

Third, the entire Great Dark and Moon Goddess business had me torn. I liked it because it was somewhat unique, but then parts of it were either lame or didn't make complete sense.
The relationships lost their charm, the plot lost its excitement. One rather big revelation was casually brushed aside, and that was the only thing I felt interested in knowing. Also, I would like to know what's with authors and their space elves having violet eyes?

So, yeah. Wanted to love it, wasn't feeling it.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,527 reviews208 followers
August 30, 2019
What a wild ride this duology has been.

I love the world of Heart of Iron. The galaxy, world building and mythology of the world is phenomenal. I love the characters and how much they've changed since the beginning of this tale. Ana really grew in this book too. And her relationship with Captain Siege is my everything.

I loved the twists and revelations about Ana, The Great Dark and Di that happened. There were a couple loose ends that didn't feel completely wrapped up, but I really loved this conclusion to Heart of Iron. Jax and Robb's storyline killed me, literally all the feels!
Profile Image for Jean.
328 reviews17 followers
July 27, 2019
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. Something's missing, especially in the way things wrapped up between Di and Ana. A little rushed and vague perhaps?
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books488 followers
Want to read
August 20, 2019
hi I will gladly sell my heart and soul for a chance to get my hands on this book A S A P like I don't even have to read it, I just wanna touch that absolutely BEAUTIFUL cover okay
Profile Image for Chloe.
572 reviews53 followers
July 25, 2019
*Spoiler free, but spoilers for Heart Of Iron*

I can't believe I got to read this book. Heart Of Iron became one of my favorite books when I read it. It's a Anastasia retelling in space with robots and queer characters and such fantastic writing. My heart is basically bursting with love for this duology.

I didn't quite know what to expect with this book. The first book was so good, and I knew the basic plotlines that would carry over. But I wasn't sure how everything would play out or what route Poston would choose to take. Boy oh boy, did she choose one that completely blew my mind. This book stays true to the first. It's just as amazing and the characters are just as fantastic and the world is just as breathtaking. It takes what is presented in the first book and expands on it so well. It makes it seem like Heart Of Iron was a set up book, even though it didn't read that way at all. Everything becomes bigger and the stakes are higher than ever. It is such a great continuation of this story, while also being a fantastic ending to this duology. This book managed to be so many things at once, and it's truly a testament at how talented Poston is.

I want to start off by saying that there were a few Anastasia Easter eggs throughout the book and my heart just about exploded when I read them. They were placed so smartly and I basically wanted to throw the book across the room because I liked them so much.

I also wanted to talk about the queer characters in this book and how much I apricated them. Robb and Jax call each other partners, a non-binary minor character makes an appearance, and Seige and Talle are wives. I loved that they just were. They were just apart of the story.

I don't know where to start with my love of the characters in this book. They are all so wonderful. I love Robb, I love Jax, I love Di, I love EoS, I love Ana. I just love them all so much. And we get to see more of Ana's crew in this book which I loved! They felt kind of background in the first book and I liked that they had more of a focus. I love how they all fought together and how much they all loved one another. Ah, all these characters have so much going for them and I want to talk about it all, but I also want this post to actually end sometime, so I'm just going to leave it on that they are all really awesome and I really love them.

I also loved how Ana wasn't the captain of her crew. An adult it. She's a teenager. She might be an Empress, but she's still a teenager. She has an adult to guide her and it's so different what is normal in YA books. I liked that she had a parental figure leading her in some ways and helping with the leading overall.

I also don't know where to start with the plot. It's so BIG. It took what Heart Of Iron was working towards and expanded it so much. The world is bigger and we get to visit new places, which was so cool. I loved seeing the new places that they traveled. The plot is also so intense. There's barely a minute to breath. There is so much fighting and sneaking on spaceships and running from bots trying to kill them. It's intense and it doesn't shy away from being heartbreaking. It's not afraid to let the pain seep into the words and the relationships. It felt really real.

I also liked the humor that was slipped in here and there. I don't quite remember if Heart Of Iron was this funny, but I did enjoy the jokes haha.

I read Heart Of Iron a good bit ago. I wasn't sure if I was going to remember everything of everything, but since I was impatient, I decided not to reread. I was able to jump right back into the plot like nothing happened. The book managed to catch you up to speed without it feeling like an info dump or a recap. You get the information you need as you go through the story and you never feel like you miss anything.

I just, I love this book and this series so much. It was such a fantastic way to wrap it up and I loved how it ended. (Hi, yes, I would totally read a companion novel that's set in the distance future.) It's just a fantastic book in all aspects. If it wasn't obvious, I highly, highly recommend checking it out.
Profile Image for Zehra.
627 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2019

If Ana saw Redveard again after all this was over, she wanted to tell him that he had been right-- Metals could not be saved with loveand sarcastic quips. Ana wasn't even sure they could be saved at all, although she held on to that hope like a ship clinging to its mooring.
She would get the heart. She would defeat the Great Dark.
And she would bring back Di.
She would.
She had to.

Heart of Iron was one of the best books I had read last year, and the wait until Soul of Stars was gruesom and way too long but in the end, I do not regret waiting.

Soul of Stars is a wonderful book about finding your own place in the world while fighting for the Metal you love. The family you have found on your own. And romance. The good romance, mind you. It's heartbreaking and dramatic but on the last page, I was a sobbing mess who wanted more.
Profile Image for Mila.
771 reviews65 followers
August 5, 2019
I was unfortunately quite disappointed by this sequel to a lighthearted and enjoyable Heart of Iron. I think the beginning was pretty strong but then it just went downhill and I lost any interest in the plot or the characters. Also, the romantic relationships were kind of cure but pulled too much attention towards them and it messed up the pacing.
Profile Image for Brooke.
957 reviews48 followers
August 23, 2020
So honestly still not even sure what the great dark is, but whatever I still really enjoyed this. I just really love the characters and the found family. Also the representation in this we have a POC main character(who I love even if she’s dumb sometimes) then we have a gay couple, two lesbians couples, two non-binary characters and a character with a hearing aid. I don’t know if I enjoyed this as much as the first one, but I did tear up at one point.
Profile Image for Joanna Goodrich.
346 reviews11 followers
July 26, 2019
This retelling of Anastasia was a fun story and that's what really kept me going. The writing isn't amazing and Poston gives way too much away too early. She doesn't leave room for speculation or shock, the hints she gives are so specific (and she repeats things you should remember for the future) that any chance of a plot twist is lost.

Also- everything was just too easy. There was no struggle, and if a character did get into trouble, it was solved quickly and easily. Fear and hatred of someone/thing was turned into admiration or like in seconds. Heart of Iron and Soul of Stars are the only books of Poston's that I've read and it may stay that way. She has wonderful ideas but the execution is lacking.

I will say this duology is incredibly diverse. You have all kinds of representation (non binary characters, mm romance, ff romance, people from all different races etc) and it's done so effortlessly.
Profile Image for anna.
122 reviews14 followers
Want to read
October 19, 2018
Covers like this remind me of what a sci fi fangirl I can be. Umm...Hello, gorgeous! You’ll be coming home to me. ❤️
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
772 reviews1,497 followers
December 30, 2020
I liked it. I did not love it.

For some reason I've just struggled a lot to connect to characters in this duology. Possibly it's because there are a lot of them, and a lot of plot events happening, so it can be hard to keep track of anything; possibly I'm bouncing off of something in the prose, which does throw me out of the story from time to time. It's a creative story and clearly told with a lot of love, but I always felt sort of detached.

Favorite bit: a line that was clearly a reference to this song, which is one of my favorites from the musical.

Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
May 26, 2020
I'm rating this with a heavy heart, because the first book HEART OF IRON was one of my fave sci-fi reads of that year, and I was utterly excited for this sequel, which promised victory for the beloved characters.

I think I read this last year, but the feeling remains unchanged that I was not impressed by the climax of the book and Ana's character. Reading through it was a trudge, and I only stayed for the romance and character development between Jax and Robb. I really had HUGE expectations for Di that were never met. The lasting impression the book gave me was just... eh... too bad it didn't live up to the grandiose capabilities of the previous.
Profile Image for anna.
140 reviews3 followers
June 1, 2020
I found that this novel was a good end to the story of Ana and Di. Overall, I wasn’t exactly super compelled to read it and found myself prioritizing other activities over reading. That isn’t to say that the book or the plot was bad, it simply wasn’t quite as much of a page turner as the first book. I still enjoyed the stories and the characters, though there was significantly less character development than in the first novel and it was much more predictable. There were not that many twists that I didn’t see coming. However, I do recommend this series and will likely come back to it at a later date, for it did make me smile a lot and the characters surely made a lasting impact in my mind.
July 8, 2020
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

So I have some rather mixed feelings about this duology - I enjoyed it but I was never really blown away. It's a little Juvenile and the pacing could have used a little more work but the characters had a great dynamic and the last hundred pages were amazing. While I'll be rating this one a 3.5 it's a solid 3.5. I'd recommend Heart of Iron and Soul of Stars to anyone who wants their space opera on the lighter side.
Profile Image for Emma.
1,251 reviews104 followers
August 27, 2021

Actual rating is a 3.5

Soul of Stars was a gripping, high-stakes conclusion to Heart of Iron. The POV shifts did an excellent job building tension and the generally short chapter length made this long book feel really speedy to get through. I'm really glad I revisited this series to finally learn how everything wrapped up.
Profile Image for Layla Crowie.
494 reviews4 followers
November 28, 2019
Murder, betrayal, secrets, love - this has it all.

A fantastic sequel to Heart of Iron, I really wish that this had been a trilogy rather than a duology. I adored the characters and their journey but the ending was very swift, almost anti-climactic, as to why I feel it could have been made into three books. But I adored this world and it's characters so very much, certainly one of my favourite re-tellings to date.
Profile Image for Roma.
134 reviews
October 8, 2020
Wat een leuke serie!!! May the stars keep you steady, and the iron keep you safe♥️
Profile Image for Teresa Mary Rose.
1,151 reviews353 followers
June 20, 2020
This was a good conclusion and I really do love this cast of characters. They all get put through the wringer in this one and nothing ever comes easy. Jax is definitely my favorite of them all. That snark of his just won me over. But I also had a real soft spot for Robb in this one as well. All in all, this was a good one and it’s fun for sci fi fans.
Profile Image for Haley.
89 reviews1 follower
December 10, 2019
3.5? It was very hard to pick a rating, because I did really enjoy it, but I also had some problems with it as well. May have minor spoilers?
First of all I still LOVE the characters. SO MUCH. Di, Jax, and Robb? I'm dead, I love them. Robb and Jax? Cutest couple. Love them. Di and Ana's relationship is also super cute

Okay now that I'm done gushing I'll talk about what bothered me.

I feel like things were a little too convenient for the characters to further the plot. Things during the ending weren't as well explained as they could have been either. It also wrapped up too neatly.

One kind of spoilery thing that kept happening that annoyed me was that people kept almost dying and then coming back (some people more than others)

Edit: I read this back in August and I keep thinking about how much I really didn't like it. I wanted to love it because I LOVED Heart of Iron. I think I'm gonna change my rating to a 3 because I do still really love the characters. I'm even toying with the idea of 2 stars, but rn I think I'll do 3.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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