Godless, by Ben Peek

Unknown.jpegThis book was sent to me by the author, at no cost.

It was fascinating, when I started this, to realise just how long it’s been since I read some epic fantasy.

Quite a while.

This is definitely epic fantasy. You can tell because the blurb begins by telling you it’s fifteen thousand years since something happened, and that something is the War of the Gods rather than a generation ship leaving Earth.

So the gods are dead (or dying), and most humans have just been getting on with their lives: knowing that there used to be gods, and that the consequences of their war and deaths are all around – in the mountains called the Spine of Ger, in the ocean called Leviathan’s Blood – but really, just living. There are a few exceptions, though: those who seem to have some of the gods’ power in them. For most humans, those people are cursed and to be avoided – not least because some of them used their powers to rule parts of the world, with varying levels of success or violence.

The narrative is told through three different characters. Ayae is young, a cartographer’s apprentice, a refugee in Mireea, and about to discover that she is cursed. The middle-aged Bueralan is a mercenary captain employed by Mireea who finds himself going surprising places. And Zaifyr… well, he’s completely unexpected. Old, troubled, complex, selfish, blunt, powerful. Much as I think he would hate it, he really binds everything in the narrative together because of his history, and because of his actions throughout the story.

Godless has action and betrayal, sieges and death and confusion and loss. So, epic. And it’s the first of a trilogy, so nothing is resolved – well, there are deaths, but given this situation that may actually not be as final as in other stories. This book definitely doesn’t stand by itself because the last couple of pages are evil, evil cliffhangers.

My one real problem with this book had more to do with the presentation than the narrative. There are numerous points at which characters are reminiscing about the past, but the text’s appearance doesn’t make it clear what’s happening in the past or in the present. In some books that’s because the characters themselves are confused, but that’s not the case here. It would have been good, therefore, to have the font make the time differences obvious – or even just a break in the text itself would have helped. It meant that I had to work harder than was necessary. There were also a number of typos and odd sentence structures, which frustrated me.

I am definitely looking forward to the second book in the series.

3 responses

  1. […] is the sequel to The Godless, and will therefore have some spoilers for that first book. Like that one, this was sent to me by […]

  2. […] McGuire (out next January from Tor.com); Strange Matings, ed Rebecca J Holden and Nisi Shawl; The Godless, Ben […]

  3. […] is the third and last book in the Children trilogy (see here and here) by Ben Peek. It does not stand on its own because it is building on, drawing together, […]

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