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The Soul Cages
Nicole Givens Kurtz
Genre: Fantasy
DDP Price: $4.99 USD
eBook 304 Pages (November 2002)
Double Dragon eBooks; ISBN: 1-55404-001-9

Rarely do authors of the sf/f realm fully capture my attention. You ask why? My reply is: Usually they leave too many loopholes and possibilities and unanswered questions. Or they are just out and out unbelievable and ludicrous.

With that said: Science Fiction mixed with some fanciful elements are my morsels of little pleasures when crafted to precision. I enjoy reading a well rounded, fully developed story with intriguing characters; ones you sincerely care for and feel their pain and suffering. Nicole Givens Kurtz has succeeded in this facet with no bars held. Amana and her sister Sarah will have the reader gripping with fear and concern for their safety. Sarah's heartbreaking duty takes her away from Amana's demise in the soul cages. From the onslaught of the girls escaping the Soul Cages, the reader is spellbound with their well-being and the journey of rescue and missions. Another flawlessly carried out facet in "The Soul Cages" are: the Science Fiction elements are plausible and the concept of the "soul cages" are truly unique.

The story opens with girls experience from being held captive in the cages that holds their souls. Once released from the bars they regained their flesh and all their senses.

While you are reading of this voyage taking place on the planet, Veloris - you are captivated by its horrid Valek who is pitting two warring planets: Earth and Saturn Four against each other. He also is quite determined in getting Sarah back. He is making a mint off a drug, Solance used to read minds.

The Chosen One, must find a way to rescue her sister. Emotions run high throughout the entire pages of the book. What are the soul cages used for and what does it extract from you when you are in them? Where did Solance (the mind-reading drug) come from and how was it being used and why was it being used?

If you enjoy reading of encounters of an evil villain leading a galaxy, warring planets, mind altering experiences, breathtaking and heart-thumping captures, brave rescues, and cloak-and-daggerish escapes, and even some secrets revealed - then I highly recommend "The Soul Cages" because it has it all. Kurtz has taken special care to intertwine her thick plot (and a few subplots intermingled as well) of the soul cages with characters that her readers will genuinely care about.

It breaks Sarah's heart to do so, but she must leave immediately with the Knight. She soon finds herself on an Arctic-like planet called Veloris, which is ruled by the frail Queen Zoe. A fearless woman named Zykeiah is about to be sworn in as a Minister Knight. Marion seems to care a great deal for Sarah, giving her special attention, but he seems to care a great deal for Zykeiah, also.
Meanwhile, Valek is bent on finding the escaped Sarah and the one who rescued her. It turns out that he's running a drug operation. The drug is called Solance, which enables people to read minds when they take it. Valek is becoming quite wealthy, secretly selling it to the leaders of the warring planets, Earth 3012 and Saturn Four, double-crossing each of them in the process.

The story's characters are memorable. Sarah has suffered for years in the soul cages, and though it is revealed to her on Veloris that she is a Chosen One with a larger purpose in the Pixlis Galaxy, rescuing Amana is her only wish. She also becomes racked with guilt because her presence on Veloris has caused anguish to those who have taken her in.

Where Marion is noble and courageous, Zykeiah callously uses salt mined by Solis slaves in her bath. She watches Sarah with narrowed eyes. Can she be trusted to carry out the benevolent duties of a Minister Knight?

Valek and his guard Orono are despicable right off the bat. We know we can't trust them. They don't even trust each other. But the extent of Valek's evil and power makes him a frightening menace to the galaxy.

Ms. Kurtz has a great talent for building the plot layer by layer, first with the idea of cages holding the souls of doomed slaves, then of Sarah's plight in worrying about her sister, all while a love intrigue involving Sarah, Marion, and Zykeiah plays out. Will the warring planets discover that Valek has been double-crossing them? And where exactly does the drug Solance come from? Do the Minister Knights stand a chance against Valek and his henchmen? What is Sarah's larger purpose in the galaxy? Many questions, I know, and most are answered satisfactorily, and as for the one that isn't, the epilogue leaves us with a juicy twist and the promise of a sequel.

The Soul Cages is highly imaginative, gripping fantasy. I highly recommend it!


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