“Soul of Stars”
Heart of Iron #2
by Ashley Poston
Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10
Summary: On the run from the Emperor and the HIVE, Ana, the true Empress Ananke Armorov, is desperately searching the galaxy for a way to save Di and the other Metals who have been HIVE’d. With the aid of the colorful Captain Siege and her misfit crew, Ana gets closer to her destiny to save the universe from the Great Dark, D’thverek. But in order to defeat the Great Dark, she will have to sacrifice the robot she fell in love with.
8 Stellar Things about Ashley Poston’s “Soul of Stars”
(May Contain Spoilers)
I was so excited that “Soul of Stars” included a map of the planets involved in the Heart of Iron world. While this did not make or break my understanding of the universe (I read “Heart of Iron” no problem which did not include a map), I am a visual person and I enjoy being able to visibly see where everything is relative to each other. Plus, it just makes the world more believable and the map is pretty.
“Soul of Stars” includes multiple LGBTQ couples! There is Captain Siege and her wife Talle, Robb and Jax, and then Lenda and Viera are an item at the end. What I absolutely love is that LGBTQ relationships were a norm in the Heart of Iron universe, there were never any comments or derogatory remarks about characters being with same gender partners.
While I had a mini heart attack because Jax basically died, getting his light sucked out of him, his near death experience actually brought him lots of joy. He can touch people now without risk of seeing their stars or having his light drained! Which means, he and Robb can fully be together both emotionally and physically. Both of them deserve to be happy.
Finally! Finally we get to have Di’s background story and it was wonderful. I liked that when Dimitri was human, he was Nicholii’s friend and that once he was a Metal, they developed a friendship once again not realizing that they knew each other before. And while he made the mistake of making a deal with Mellifare, he obviously didn’t know who she truly was and in the face of death, most of us would sell our souls for the chance to live.
Ashley Poston’s writing throughout “Soul of Stars” was great. The story moved at a fast pace without me being bored or feeling like the story was being bogged down by too much description or dialogue. Characters were likable and the overall storyline was interesting, especially the relationship between Ana and Di. But most importantly, while “Soul of Stars” was an emotional rollercoaster, there was plenty of humor and light-hearted banter to provide comic relief.
6. Robot Love
Falling in love with a robot brings up so many questions. It brings up the argument of whether an AI is truly “alive”. Does it experience emotions and feelings? Does it possess a soul? Can you love something that is soulless? Can you love something that is not organic but rather “made”? If you are in love with it, can it return your feelings, is it capable of love? So many questions and absolutely no fucking answers because Poston had a solution. The Metals each housed a soul, a soul that came from a human who “died” from the plague. Fucking genius!
7. The Dilemma
Apparently “Soul of Stars” is full of philosophical dilemmas and hard questions. Ana’s dilemma is to kill the HIVE and save the universe and billions of beings while allowing all the HIVE’d Metals to die. It is the age old ethical situation of allowing the sacrifice of a few to save many. And of course to make the whole debacle more difficult, Ana would be sacrificing the being she loved the most. Thankfully Ana thought the whole situation was bullshit and was determined to destroy the Great Dark without sacrificing the Metals.
Overall the ending of “Soul of Stars” and the Heart of Iron duology was bittersweet. While the main characters survive and Ana and Di end up staying together, Di’s memory core is malfunctioning. Ironic as this was the problem with his old body and how everything started in “Hearts of Iron” but as we know from that, he will not survive without his memory core and there is no way to fix it. So while Ana and Di are together, their time is sadly limited.