Heart and Soul
Sarah A. Hoyt
Bantam, Oct 28 2008, $6.99
Charlemagne stole the ruby the Soul of Fire from its avatar shrine in the heart of Africa; he used it to bind the world’s magic to him and his descendents. Nigel Oldhall was to obtain the rubies and turn them over to his boss, but learns instead the worlds are splitting out from this earth until eventually the realms implode. Nigel changes his mission to return the rubies to their rightful original locations in order to save the world he knows.
Before he can complete his quest, Zhgng, the second in command to the True Emperor of All Under Heaven, steals one of the precious gems because he wants to be the new ruler instead of Wen, an opium addict. Wen depends on his sister Red Jade to rule behind the scenes. Jade and Wen’s third wife known as the Third Lady go on separate missions to save the Chinese throne from the usurpers. Whereas Third Lady escorts Wen to the underworld to fight to regain his power stolen by Zhang, Jade goes after the rubies disguised as a dragon. When she and Nigel encounter one another, they each realize the mission has morphed out of control as has their hearts.
In the Hoyt vision of the Victorian Age, magic is controlled by the nobles of Europe; aging Queen Victoria wants to use the rubies to regain her youth and to bind the world’s magic to her and her legitimate offspring. Originally Nigel was doing her bidding, but he concludes the rubies need to return to their proper place even if magic trickles down to the commoners; to do otherwise could destroy the earth. Nigel has grown since he started his quest) see SOUL OF FIRE and HEART OF LIGHT), but like Jade is unable to reveal his deepest regard for her (or him in her case). Sarah A. Hoyt delivers a first class urban historical fantasy filled with HEART AND SOUL.