This 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 the author at no cost.
Aaaaarrrrrgggghhh. The third book isn’t out until 2017.
The Godless basically ends with the siege of Mireea ending badly for our friends there, with additional problems like having killed a couple of very powerful men, while Buerelan’s friends are dead and the child-god is being distinctly creepy. So you just know that this second book is going to be completely full of happy, cheery adventures. Or not.
Peek’s pre-prologue is from a historian writing fifty years after the siege of Mireea, which I quite like as a conceit since it allows him to remind the audience of some of the major events with a bit of chronological distance that provides for the introspection and reflection of good historical writing. The prologue itself is deeply unsettling, since we’re introduced to someone who, sadly, doesn’t survive (sorry, but it is kind of obvious). And that’s because he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time: on the coast, when Aela Ren – the Innocent, who was pretty much a myth and a rumour in the first book – comes to shore. Which bodes for the entire novel.
The Godless followed a few different perspectives; Leviathan’s Blood steps it up a notch by adding more perspectives as the web of the story becomes increasingly complex. A lot of the story occurs in Yeflam, whence the survivors of Mireea have decamped as refugees – and I can’t help but think that Peek’s presentation of their situation, being stuck on an island with little provision and viewed with deep suspicion by the people of Yeflam – reflects current experiences of refugees, especially in relation to Australia. Ayae is having to deal with being a refugee again but also being in a unique position as someone cursed, or blessed, with a god’s power – and therefore viewed very differently by the people of Yeflam, whose state is largely ruled by such people (the Keepers). She, however, largely feels loyalty to the Mireeans and their ruler – as well as to Zaifyr, who is also in a difficult position, since he’s arrived in Yeflam as a prisoner for the murder of two Keepers. Which he knew would land him in hot water, to say the least. Then you’ve got Captain Heast, who may be my very, very favourite character since he’s so much the put-upon, battle-scarred, trying-to-be-moral, old soldier (huh… so I have a type then: Sparrowhawk; Mal Reynolds; Han Solo). And then there’s Buerelan, who probably has the most difficult narrative throughout this book, since it begins in such a hard place – blood-brother dead and cursed by the child-god – and it just gets worse as he goes to Ooila, the home from which he has been exiled for a very long time and where he knows he won’t get a great reception.
This series is definitely one of those thats fits into the Rather Gloomy side of epic fantasy. That’s not a negative, but I probably wouldn’t be giving it to someone who hasn’t read any since they enjoyed David and Leigh Eddings as a teen! There’s a lot of difficulty for our heroes, and often our heroes aren’t actually very heroic. Instead, they’re fallible and frustrated and human; not always likeable but almost always compelling.
There were points at which I felt like the narrative dragged a little, when it feels like we’re getting a bit bogged down in the details of how the Mireeans will get out of their difficult situation with Yeflam or the internal politicking of Zaifyr and his completely dysfunctional family. Having said that, all of those details add up to a very rich world – one where life isn’t all adventures and near-misses, but where understanding realpolitik is genuinely life and death, and buying farms can be a risky manoeuvre, and who you spend time with might actually change your life.
And thus, dammit, begins the long wait for the final book.
You can get it from Fishpond.