The Godless by Ben Peek
Just finished reading The Godless which I have to say I enjoyed. This book is described as epic and I can see why. The scope here certainly justifies that description.
Set in a world where the Gods are dying following war with each other, their bodies now lie beneath the oceans, in the forests and under mountain ranges. One of these Gods, Ger, lies dying beneath a mountain range that the city of Mireea is nestled up against. The inhabitants of the city of Mireea are known as the Godless. They little believe in deities as they go about the hustle and bustle of their busy working lives. However, in spite of their lack of faith nothing can alter the fact that a God lies in the final throes of death beneath their city, his power leeching out through the earth infecting some of the residents with power. Known as the cursed, when their powers manifest, these people are shunned, despised and feared by the people of Mireea.
In the City of Leera a different story is unfolding. There an army gathers, driven by their faith they aim to march upon the trading post of Mireea and reclaim the God that lies there. Not everything is as it seems and strange blood magic seems to play a role.
This story is much more than a potential war between two cities however. There are vast amounts of history to be revealed during the course of the story and a number of revelations. I won’t deny that Peek throws you into the story without so much as a lifeline. He takes the approach of dropping you into the deep end and hoping that you’ll learn fast or sink deep. I quite like this although won’t deny there were places that I was puzzled and had to back track for the purpose of clarity. That being said, and whilst not everything has yet been declared, the various strands come together very satisfactorily.
There are a number of central characters. Ayae, who at the start of the book is attacked by a reanimated member of the recently dead and thrown into the body of a blazing fire – from which she emerges unscathed. Her life is turned upside down immediately as the people of the city find out and shun her. She also becomes the immediate focus for a number of others. Zaifyr, a warded man, solitary and feared and yet drawn inexplicably to help Ayae. Fo and Bau who are sent to Mireea from the City of Eflam – they are keepers of the divine – and they would try to help Ayae come to terms with her new found abilities. The one thing that all three have in common is their power and immortality. Each having lived for hundreds of years, each bearing different curses and each with a different agenda. Are they Gods in the making??
We also make the acquaintance of Bueralan. Formerly a member of the nobility before being exiled and resorting to the life of a mercenary and saboteur. Bueralan leads a fearsome cast of not to be messed with mercenaries. He’s going to find himself leading a mission accompanied by a mysterious character who we still know little about. Samuel Orlan. He’s a cartographer, Ayae his apprentice. The name Orlan is eventually passed on to the apprentice who becomes the next in line to wear the mantle. Now, i freely admit that I don’t really know what is going on with Mr Orlan. He really is a mystery. I’m not sure whether that’s in a good way or not or whether he’s one of those characters that float through fantasy novels playing a meaningful role whilst not being aligned to either side? It remains to be discovered.
There is a lot to be taken in although I’ve barely skimmed the surface here and frankly I can’t really do it justice without writing an essay! And, I will make clear that this is not a novel to be raced through. You need to read it thoroughly and digest slowly.
In terms of criticisms – well, I can’t deny there’s a lot to take in. The plot does jump about a little also going further back in time to give a person’s history and the whole deity/would-be God elements are still a little puzzling but I think it’s worth the effort and I look forward to the next instalment to see where Peek takes this next.
I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley. The above is my own opinion.