Wednesday 3 September 2014

The Godless by Ben Peek (a review)

The Godless is the first in a new epic fantasy series by Australian author Ben Peek. It is a big, big book that promises lots and, I'm happy to say, delivers on those promises.

The story is set in a world that was once populated by Gods, but they fought a terrible war and are now all dead or dying (hence the title of the book). These dead or dying Gods are, in effect, leaking their 'Godly Power'(for want of a better word) and these 'leakages' give some people 'powers'. Contrary to what you may expect though, these 'powers'are seen as a curse, not a gift by most people.

The action of the story takes place in the City of Mireea which is built atop the buried body of the God Ger. There are three chief protagonists, the first being Ayae, a trainee cartographer. She is an orphan who came to the City as a child and is happy in her life. This all changes when she is caught in a fire at her place of work. It is a horrific blaze but she is untouched by the flames. She is then called as 'cursed' and people turn away from her, even those she loves. The second main character is the mystic Zaifyr, a man thousands of years old, who may be able to help Ayae learn how to use/cope with her gift/curse. Due to the many years he has lived this character is used as a kind of 'infodump' at times as his part of the story contains a lot of history. This is not a bad thing though as there is a lot of it and following it as part of his life story makes it interesting. The city of Mireea, at the time of the story, is on the verge of attack by a neighbouring army who want the body of Her and the associated 'Godly Power'.

 This brings us to the third and final arc of the story, concerning Buerlain, the leader of the mercenary group Dark. They are charged with infiltrating the approaching army to find their plans and any possible weaknesses. This section of the story is very much in the 'Grimdark' vein and is another refreshing aspect to the story as a whole. With a large cast of minor characters this is a book that you need to give time to, but that time is well rewarded with a good piece of fantasy fiction that is possibly like nothing you have read before.

 Good world building, good characterisation and some great ideas. This is certainly a series I will be following eagerly and I recommend you do the same. 4/5 stars

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