Thursday, 8 January 2015

Book Review - The Godless by Ben Peek

I must admit that I passed up on purchasing The Godless when it was first released. Something about the blurb deterred me at the time. In hindsight that was a very stupid decision on my part, and I'm glad that I changed my mind and raced to the store to pick a copy to read over the holidays. 

The Godless tells the story of many fallen gods whose bodies lay strewn across the world after their cataclysmic war. Their power has not fully diminished however, and it inhabits certain individuals from time to time, gifting them unusual powers and extended life. One such person, Ayae, finds herself 'god-touched' and drawn into a complex web of politics, war, betrayal, and destruction that will result in enemies and death no matter what. 

So what did I love about The Godless? Many, many things. First up I found the world Peek created in The Godless to be utterly immersive and massive in breadth and scale. It was wonderful, for example, to read about how the merchant city of Mireya lies atop of the crystallised spine of the god Ger. And that if you tunnel down into the mountains you are basically tunnelling through Ger's carcass. I also adored how Peek stomped on well used tropes (white male heroes for example) by embracing diversity and equality throughout the novel. The Godless features many different and fascinating characters (especially powerful women... which is bloody awesome!), from the fire wielding Ayae and strange Zaifyr through to Lady Waggan and the nefarious Bau and Fo. I was mesmerised by them all, especially Zaifyr, whose history and depth (not to mention his many mistakes and corrupted soul) blew my mind. Secondly I loved the ideas and concepts explored in the Godless. History, power (and its ability to corrupt), religion, and the notions of good and evil are all touched on and examined throughout the novel. This really added to my enjoyment, and I loved how Peek explored and picked each of them apart (Peek's style and exploration of ideas reminded me a lot of Rjurik Davidson's Unwrapped Sky... which I loved as well) as the story unfolded. Finally, I loved how Peek let the story evolve and unfold. I cared about what was happening, and I was on the edge of my seat reading late into the night as armies laid siege to cities, and magical and supernatural battles played out. This to me was fantasy at its best... challenging... yet also adventurous and full of intrigue and high stakes. 

If I had one small criticism (and it is a very very small one) it would be that I perhaps wanted a little more background as a reader before I was thrown in at the deep end at the start of the book.

All in all I really enjoyed reading The Godless. I found it to be an original, fascinating and bloody enjoyable work that all fans of fantasy should read! One of my reading highlights in recent years! 

4 out of 5 stars.

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