Solena has just been named healer from her Grandpeer, the Prophet. He is slowly dying from a lung disease and desperately needs an herb to extend his life. So when a father-to-be needs to journey for a votif for his newborn child, Solena offers to go along and help. Selecting a votif is a very big deal. The votif is kept with the person their whole life; it is filled with their life embers.
When he finds the perfect votif, Solena announces to him that she is not returning until she gets the herb to help her Grandpeer. The only place she can think to look is a nearby forest, filled with soldiers and forbidden. She travels many days and is exhausted and hungry when she sees a fruit tree. Famished, she begins to eat the ripe plums when a strong hand lands on her shoulder. She is scared senseless as he hauls her toward his camp.
She has heard the rumors that the soldiers will kill anyone who trespasses. She doesn't understand anything they say, and they do not understand her. Rundan, the soldier who captured Solena, is not like the others. He has no wish to be a soldier, but to dedicate his time to his ancient texts and wisdom. But his father insists, but when his father commands Rundan to escort Solena to the palace to be killed, he questions himself.
On thier travel to the palace, a long journey, they make camp in a cave. But another soldier attacks Solena and Rundan comes to her rescue at great injury to himself. Instead of running away, Solena stays and tries to heal him, but he is getting weaker. She comes up with the idea to share some of her life embers from her votif with his -- even though it's never been done except with newborns. It works, and Rundan finds himself falling in love with Solena.
When he offers himself to her in marriage, she declines. She thinks he is offering himself to her as a servant, and although they recently found they could communicate with the language of the old texts, miscommunication still happens. Rundan decides he will not return to his people and will take Solena back to hers - she did save his life. But the whole journey he tries to distant himself from her, hurt by her rejection. Solena doesn't understand what happened to their easy comradeship and although she loves Rundan, she can't abide the thought of him being her slave.
The Language of Souls is a short story but packed with romance, action, and the different beliefs of people and how they are sometimes the same. Solena and Rundan's story is heart-warming, sensual and soul-searching. They speak in another language besides verbally, but express their desires and their needs with body language, or just a look. Their world is expressed in a beautiful language that is breathtaking and sweet. High marks to Ms. Goldfinch for this wondrous story!