Kingdom of Souls Summary & Study Guide

Rena Barron
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Kingdom of Souls Summary & Study Guide Description

Kingdom of Souls Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron.

The following version of this novel was used to create this study guide: Barron, Rena. Kingdom of Souls. HarperTeen. 2019. Hardcover.

The novel starts with the narrator Arrah at a coming-of-age ceremony. It is revealed that she comes from a family of powerful magic users, but has never obtained her own power. Her mother, who is the Ka-priestess of the Kingdom, is distant due to disappointment. Arrah is also considered an outsider, as she was born to a woman living in Tamar, and Oshee, a witchdoctor in the Atiri tribe. Despite this, Arrah can still see magic, and her Grandmother believes it will come in time. After failing multiple magic tests, Arrah leaves the celebration. Outside the tribe, she finds a woman who tells her that everyone is capable of using magic if they are willing to pay the price.

The novel then moves forward to the annual Blood Festival where a 16-year-old Arrah is desperate for magic, as this is the last year most receive it. After her Grandmother breaks the ceremony by pulling Arrah into the sacred circle, Arrah feels the magic of their god, Heka, flow through her. However, it disperses without taking hold. Devastated, Arrah pretends it did not happen and eventually wanders away from camp. She is stopped by four boys from another tribe who insult her for her mixed blood and lack of magic. Her friends Sukar and Essnai arrive and, after a brief scuffle, the boys run away.

Arrah then goes to her Grandmother to attempt another long series of magical tests. After all of them fail, her Arrah feels an invisible serpent crawling on her skin. In a panic, her Grandmother forces it to leave with her own magic and asks if Arrah has seen a green-eyed serpent in her dreams. When Arrah says no, her Grandmother reveals that the serpent is a symbol of demon magic which has not existed for thousands of years. Unfortunately, neither she nor Oshee know what the creature is and are uncertain how to protect Arrah.

The novel then shifts to a conversation between Re’mec and his sister (though his name is only given through the title of the section). They lament about how they gave everything to protect the tribes from the Demon King, only to have Heka ruin it by giving the people magic and getting the tribes to worship him instead. The sister says that the beast (presumably the demon king) stirs after 5,000 years. Re’mec agrees to stop it, as his love for the world is stronger than his disappointment in the tribes.

Back in Tamar, Arrah is forced to attend an assembly with her mother, Arti. There, it is revealed that Arti’s greatest enemy is the Vizier who is one step above her within royal politics. Arti says that children in the kingdom are going missing, and blames the Vizier’s family as they (alongside the royal family) are the only ones who possess anti-magic that can hide the snatcher from Arti’s magical sight. Arrah’s best friend, Rudjek, the third son of the Vizier, says they are innocent, as one brother is always guarded and the other was sent away after losing their minds in Ru’mac’s Rite of Passage. Arrah searches for information in the temple and learns of the Supreme Cataclysm that birthed the 14 Orisha, including an unnamed one. She also learns that demons are not represented by serpents, but by their green eyes.

Arrah goes to the East Market where she sees a man who has traded years of his life to create protection charms. She tells Rudjek everything that happened and talks to her pseudo-brother Kofi, who she rescued from his step-mothers abuse. However, when familiars - spirits that cling to death - rush Kofi, Arrah worries he is the next target. Later, she learns from Arti that she has had no luck finding the child snatcher, and believes that it is up to the Vizier to protect the kingdom.

After Oshhe leaves to hunt an ox for a protection charm, Arrah learns that Kofi has been taken. Desperate, she asks the man from the market how to trade years for magic, and he gives her a scroll with the ritual. Despite Rudjek’s protests, Arrah finishes the ritual and then uses a second one that pulls her Ka from her body. She finds a demon with serpent eyes, but it says that it is not what she is looking for. After wandering the city longer, which begins to kill her, she finds another Ka and realizes the snatcher is her mother, Arti.

Arrah dreams of a story that Oshhe told her of a woman who had everything about her stripped away when she was accused of bewitching the prince. Despite her innocence, she never recovered, but married a man from the tribe in hopes that they would fall in love. Instead, the man came to adore his daughter. Arrah wakes up and realizes she is bound by Arti’s magic. Arti says that Arrah’s ritual took ten years of her life, but she will not let Arrah ruin her plans. After explaining that she did not want to take the children, but has no choice, she carves a serpent into Arrah’s skin, binding Arrah’s Ka to Arti’s own. Arrah tries to flee and collapses at the Vizier’s house. There, she learns that her father’s story was about Arti, and it was the Vizier that accused her of bewitching his best friend, the prince. Arti was tortured for weeks by the previous Ka-Priest, Ren, until he proclaimed her innocence. Arrah is certain Arti wants revenge, but Arti’s magic stops her from telling anyone the truth.

At home, Arrah is horrified when Arti binds Oshhe to her Ka as well, before removing his memory of the curse. Arti is impressed that Arrah can defy her at all (as Arrah should be affected in the same way that Oshhe is), but says Arrah will never betray her. She explains that she was one of hundreds of women that the Ka-Priest Ren destroyed in a perverse use of his power. She found two of his very few survivors (as most were driven to insanity), Ty and Nezi, who kept him alive through his terrible illness as long as possible as Arti believed killing him was a mercy. While sympathetic to her mother’s pain, Arrah rushes to find a ritual to save herself and Oshhe. However, Arti has Oshhe burn all of his ritual scrolls before Arrah has the chance.

Angry, Arrah goes to Rudjek’s coming of age ceremony and gets jealous when the Vizier brings in dancers for Rudjek. However, he finds Arrah and the two admit that they love each other. When they are about to kiss, the Vizier catches them and Arti’s magic drags Arrah and Oshee to the temple.

Once there, Arti takes them to a secret room where Ren took his victims. Arrah ses the kids and realizes that Arti has trapped their souls in jars and painted rituals in blood on the walls. Arti uses Oshhe’s body to summon the demon Shezmu, who devours the children’s ka in payment. She tells him she will free the Demon King by having a child with Shezmu using Heka’s power. It is revealed that the people of the tribe gave parts of their kas to Heka in return for magic. As a member of the Mulani, she calls down Heka, causing a portion of the temple to collapse. Heka tells her that this will have terrible consequences and he will never return to the tribes. She demands it regardless, and Heka tells Arrah to be brave before leaving.

Fram, the orisha of life and death, laments on the death of her sister, the Unnamed orisha. She says that her sister fell in love with the Demon King and gave him his immortality that should be their gift. All of the siblings decided she needed to die. However, Fram was unable to do so and lied to the others, placing her sister’s ka into the body of a human and erasing her memory. However, Fram knows that the Unnamed will wake up soon, and worries for her wrath.

A month goes by and the people of Tamar become angrier as the children are still missing. Arrah hates that she cannot tell the truth. However, she is surprised to meet one of the twin kings, Koré. The orisha tells Arrah that Arti has forced the seers into obedience, and their curse will kill them if they turn on her. However, Arrah’s curse is actually protecting her, and Koré thinks it is to protect Arrah from the orisha who would have killed her to get to Arti. Arrah says she is going to poison her mother, and Koré leaves without helping her with the curse. Arrah does poison her mother’s wine, but it fails due to Arti’s magic.

As the anger in the city grows, Rudjek escapes his house and finds Arrah. The two once again admit their feelings for each other. However, their time is cut short when someone yells that the children have been found and the temple is on fire. The two rush to escape the crowd and Arrah tries to tell Rudjek what Art has done even though she cannot directly say it. They are attacked by men thinking that they can appease the orisha by killing the children of the Vizier and the Ka-Priestess. When Arrah throws dirt into their eyes, her mother’s curse kills them, and she is horrified when she thinks they got what they deserved.

When the two make it to the palace, they find many dead seers and Arrah worries for Arti. The Vizier finds them, furious, and snaps at Arrah. She feels compelled to stand up to him, but forces down the curse so she does not hurt him. When Arti leave the temple unharmed, the Vizier banishes her and her family, and says the Almighty One stopped him from executing her. Rudjek swears to find Arrah as her mother leads her away.

A conversation between orisha reveals that Re’mec is the one who started the war with the Demon King. He also demanded a Rite of Passage for his own amusement, something that the other orisha do not agree with. They wonder if Arti’s child will be strong enough to free the Demon King and consider letting the world destroy itself and be remade by the Supreme Cataclysm.

Arti and Arrah head to the docks through an angry crowd. During their travels, Arti reveals that Rudjek is destined to die in the Dark Forest, and that he is not who he thinks he is. This angers Arrah, but the curse stops her from writing to him. Nezi tells her that the Demon King is not their enemy, and the orisha must be punished for abandoning their people. After ten days, they arrive in Kefu where Koré greets Arrah disguised as a child. Koré explains that Kefu is a place between time, and this is where the demons went after the war. This proves that the scriptures lied, as the orisha told them that the demons were killed. Koré gives Arrah two rituals, but warns that they require a hefty price before leaving. After the group travels for hours, Arrah realizes that she can still see the town. A vilia appears, and it is revealed that Arti, who has only been pregnant for a month, is now days away from having her child.

Desperate to stop Arti, Arrah completes the ritual that will break her free from Arti’s curse. She dreams of Rudjek carrying her in the desert, and he tells her that she will survive. She then wanders through darkness with hundreds of people begging her to stay with them. Once she finds a woman who she realizes is herself, her ka is brought back to her body. When she wakes up, she sees Arti nursing a baby named Efiya. Arrah laments that they cannot be normal sisters, and vows to kill her.

A few days later when Arrah wakes up, she sees a seven-year-old Efiya, who explains that time means nothing in Kefu and she simply made herself older. She asks why Arrah’s mind is the only one she cannot see, and asks to fix Arrah. When she uses her magic, Arrah screams at her to leave and Arti arrives, furious. The two leave, and Arrah forces herself out of bed. She then overhears Arti telling Efiya to find the Demon King. However, Efiya says there are too many lines and futures and just wants to play with Arrah, who wonders if she can use Efiya’s childhood innocence to stop Arti’s plan.

However, when Arrah goes to Efiya’s room, she finds her talking to hundreds of demons and surrounded by magic. Efiya sends the demons away and Arrah tells her that she cannot free the Demon King, or no one will ever get to play gain. This upsets Efiya, and Arrah stays to comfort her. In the morning, however, Arrah finds that Efiya has forced a group of children to obey her and is needlessly cruel. When she tortures Arrah with her magic, Arti interrupts and says that Efiya is a disappointment. Efiya then summons a ka and puts it in a cat named Merka. This pleases Arti, and Arrah realizes that her sister has no concept of good or evil.

Efiya’s narration reveals that she is growing tired of Arti. She puts Merka's soul into the body of a Kefu man, saying he has earned it. Furthermore, Efiya frequently travels to the void, where she sees countless futures and threads, but nothing about Arrah. She also reveals that Oshhe is aware of his curse, and Arti herself prays for the kingdom due to her love for Jerrick. Efiya finds these emotions useless and decides to take the kingdom for herself.

When Efiya returns after a long time away, she is now 16 and delighted to tell Arrah that she killed an orisha. She explains that she wants to see the world destroyed and plans to do it herself. She then reveals that she has turned Nezi into one of her servants, as Nezi wanted to die after Ren’s torture, but Arti was too sentimental. When she leaves a second time, Arrah begins working on the ancestor ritual to kill Efiya herself. As Merka gathers hundreds of demons in Kefu, Oshhe finds Arrah as she is digging up the bones. She lies so that Arti’s curse will not compel him to stop her, and he leaves after calling Efiya his second little priestess.

Arrah calls on her ancestors who are angry that a girl with Mulani blood would ask them for help. However, Arrah appeals to them, saying that being different does not make her unworthy. They tell her to take her to Efiya, but Arrah’s sister is excited to see them. Efiya heals every attack the ancestors land, and when Arrah tries to stab her sister, Merka intervenes. Efiya turns the knife on Arrah, but Arti saves her. She tells Efiya that she cannot know the consequences for killing Arrah, and Efiya storms off to a throne she made in the vilia.

Arrah convinces Terra to leave, and sees Arti at the gate. She says that Efiya ruined her plans, and Arrah says Arti cannot fix her mistakes. Arti lets Arrah leave. In Kefu, Terra panics when she feels the demon magic. Koré arrives and tells Arrah that what is left of the chieftains is with her, and to go to the Almighty Temple. Efiya arrives and snaps Koré’s neck as another orisha, Mouran, takes Arrah and Terra away.

Efiya relieves her memory of killing the tribes in an attempt to take their kas. When she arrives, Efiya realizes the five chieftains already bound their kas to Arrah. When Efiya returns to the Villa, she finds Arti crying and wonders how Arti will react to the death of the chieftains, and vows to find Arrah.

Arrah feels the memories and magic of each chieftain's ka as they arrive in Tamar. The city is grim, dirty, and unrecognizable. She is turned away at the Vizier’s estate, but finds Mudjak and the rest of her friends. She learned that Rudjek went missing three months ago after Arrah left, as Tam told him she was in the Dark Forest. She also learns that a prince, Terek, is believed to have killed both Jerrik and the crown prince, and now leads a conquest to unite the world under the god, Efiya. They see Tam kill a demon before they arrive at the temple. There, Arrah’s magic seeks Rudjek, and she watches him die, unable to help.

Part IV begins with another piece of the Unnamed’s song, mentioning the pain of her sins and revenge. Re’mec asks Rudjek if he wants to hear the truth of his family, saying that Oshin Omari had all the riches he could ever want, but still wanted more. The story says he fought a leader bravely, and left with the bones, but Re’mec says the truth is much more interesting.

At the temple, Arrah is shocked to find Rudjek alive, and he says that Re’mec sent him back. Then, the ka of Sukar’s uncle, Barasa, says they must kill Efiya using the Demon King’s dagger. Arrah’s grandmother foresaw everything, and the dagger will kill whoever uses it, as it was given to the Demon King by the unnamed orisha to trap souls. This infuriates Rudjek, but Arrah, who feels she is close to death already, agrees to use it.

The two leave to explore the temple. Rudjek reveals that Tam is Re’mec. Rudjek says he was killed, but healed himself. Merka interrupts his story and separates Arrah from Rudjek. When he prepares to tear her mind apart like Ren did Arti’s, she uses the magic of the Mulani chieftain and burns Merka to ashes. Rudjek finds her and the two head for tribal lands. When they rest for the night, she goes to the river to clean off. However, she feels Efiya with Rudjek and finds herself trapped in the forest. Once she escapes, she finds Rudjek sleeping with Efiya. He is horrified, as he was not able to tell them apart, but escapes when Arrah fights back. Their friends arrive just before an army of shotani. Five more people arrive to help, and Arrah gives into her magic, bringing down a storm of fire to wipe out the army.

The story shifts back to Re’mec’s story where he reveals that Oshin died in the forest, and the elder’s son took his form to influence the king. This means that Rudjek is part craven, and has Re’mec’s gifts within him. Re’mec says that Daho, the Demon King, is coming, and he realizes he could have stopped this if he had rescued Arti years ago. He says that they killed his sister (the Unnamed) to strike at Daho, and the war is more important to Rudjek than he realizes.

Rudjek says the five helpers are his guardian cravens, each of which took human form to help after Efiya’s army killed many of them. As they travel, Rudjek shares Re’mec’s story. Arrah wishes she could see Oshhe and has nightmares of Rudjek and Efiya, while refusing to tell anyone what happened. Once they reach the mountains, she finds herself alone with Rudjek. He says that he wanted her and agrees that he should have known. The two hug, but he reveals that Re’mec said they will destroy each other.

The chieftains tell Arrah to go to the temple. There, Rudjek and Arrah find a pit under a slab of granite, When they reach the bottom, time shifts around Arrah, and she sees a lavish palace filled with white-winged people. She then sees a frozen lake with a boy named Daho who says that Fram stole Arrah’s memories, calling her Dimma. He says that time will reveal all, and he wanted to see her. Furthermore, the demons in Kefu were his people who refused to fight in the war, and were locked away by the orisha. Rudjek snaps her out of the vision, and Arrah is scared of what she cannot remember. She convinces herself that the Demon King is evil and trying to distract her. Rudjek and Arrah kiss and she takes the dagger.

Re’mec arrives and Arrah thinks Re’mec is worse than Daho. The army arrives, and Efiya comes to Arrah. As she whispers something in Rudjek’s ear, Arti arrives and begs Arrah to let her fix her mistake by giving her the dagger. Arrah believes her, but Efiya kills Arti. This frees Oshhe, who tells Arrah to be strong before Efiya stabs him. The sisters fight. Efiya escapes, and time restarts. A mammoth drops from the sky, before turning into Koré. Arrah uses her magic to teleport herself into the temple so Efiya follows. It is revealed that this place exists outside of time, and Efiya always saw them enter, but never what happened after. Efiya says that everyone she killed is safe within her, and stabs Arrah in the stomach. Arrah uses the dagger to pierce Efiya’s heart. As her sister’s ka leaves, Arrah descends into darkness, heartbroken.

Arrah wakes up in darkness and knows that she is Dimma who loved Daho in her first life. He was a mortal who was dying, and she did not comprehend death. His people, the demons, had many advancements, including their wings, but no immortality. Daho was the crown prince, but his enemies raided the castle after his father died and he escaped. When he returned with Dimma at his side, he killed the false king and consumed his ka, and needed more to maintain his immortality. The orishas killed her, but that pushed him to raise an army.

Fram arrives and says the orishas failed Dimma, but it is time for her soul to ascend. Arrah/Dimma fight back, as the two are broken pieces of the same soul. Fram believes Arrah means well, but Dimma wants the Demon King. However, they use the chieftain's magic to separate their ka and find their way back to Arrah’s body. When she wakes up - much to everyone's surprise - she has no memory of Fram or her true self. She learns that the dagger has been stolen, and realizes that Daho has escaped.

The story ends on a conversation between Daho and Shezmu after Daho gains a new, smaller body. He wants the orisha to suffer and is certain that Arrah will come to the demon’s side like Dimma did. Daho says that he will be patient until Dimma remembers both him and their son. He promises to bring peace like his father did, but knows there will be more violence.

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