With a heavy heart, I finished reading The Ophian Rising, the fourth and final book in Brian Niemeier‘s Soul Cycle. And thus closes one of the most interesting, unique, satisfying, and fun book series I have read in a long time.
In my review of the first book, Nethereal, I described it as such:
Take the good parts of Dune and Star Wars, mix them together with a heaping dollop of Dante, a dash of high fantasy, and a whole lot of horror, and you’re beginning to almost approach Brian Niemeier‘s self-published Nethereal, book one of his three-part Soul Cycle series.
Is it sci-fi? Is it science-fantasy?
Who cares? It’s fun.
This description works across the entire series.
I refuse to get into spoiler territory here, as interested readers need to experience the Soul Cycle for themselves. What I’d like to do instead is explain why this series works so well, and encourage you to read it for yourself.
All I’ll say about The Ophian Rising is that:
- Brian’s writing, good to start with, gets better and better with each book.
- The Soul Cycle needs to be read from front-to-back in order to pick up on everything Brian has subtly wove into it. I plan on doing a re-read of the whole series soon.
- Brian knows how to tell a lean story that’s still satisfying (more on this later).
And here is my only complaint about The Ophian Rising: I wish that it, and the series itself, was longer. That’s right: Brian has left me wanting more. Thankfully, I know he has no plan to stop writing anything anytime soon.
Why You Should Read The Soul Cycle
Regular readers know that I’ve written about Brian before. He edited the manuscript for my own novel, The Rust Man, and writes about many topics on his own blog that I’ve used as springboards for further discussion here.
I’m going to distill a few of Brian’s biggest points for you, and then explain why, if these sound good to you, you should read his work.
- The era of the doorstop novel is over.
- Readers want something they can pick up that will grip them from the start and keep them reading–the key word here is immediacy.
- Favor clear writing over clever writing.
- People crave heroes that are actually heroic–good and evil matter!
- Books are competing with TV, social media, movies, video games, and streaming video.
- Keep your politics out of your writing–shoehorning contemporary issues into your fiction is a recipe for disaster, or at least for severely limiting your audience.
- The era of big publishing is over. Indies are where it’s at.
- Indie does not equal low quality. Not anymore.
- And finally: If it has nothing to do with your story, get rid of it.
I can safely say that The Soul Cycle series embodies all of these principles.
I get into these points in more detail in this video, where I compare Brian’s storytelling style to a fantastic old movie I re-watched with my son last weekend, 1935’s Errol Flynn/Olivia de Haviland classic, Captain Blood, itself based on a novel.
And through the magic of perfect timing, Brian offers up his reactions to my video at his site.
So if the stuff you read or watch seems to lack, say, heroes, or fun, or is a bloated mess of irrelevant detail and mindless action . . . if you like Dune and Star Wars yet feel like you haven’t found anything close to embodying the spirit of those works in a long time . . . if you just want to lose yourself in a really interesting world . . . here’s what you should do:
- Click on this Amazon link.
- Click on where it says “Look Inside!”
- Read the first two chapters of Nethereal.
- If they pique your interest, buy it and read it. I can almost guarantee you’ll find yourself reading the rest of the series.
Do I sound like a Brian Niemeier cheerleader? Sure, guilty as charged. But like I always say, part of the fun in life is finding good stuff and sharing it with the world. I sincerely hope that any of you who pick up Brian’s books on my recommendation come back here in the comments and let me know what you think.
So yes, this was a weird review in that I didn’t talk about the book itself. But I really don’t want to spoil it for you.
Soul Cycle Reviews:
My YouTube channel is here.
And check out my Instagram here.