Published: July 11, 2017 (US)
Series: Godblind #1
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
For fans of Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and Mark Lawrence comes a brutal grimdark fantasy debut of dark gods and violent warriors.
The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.
Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.
Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?
I was initially drawn in by the cover art for Godblind, but quickly found myself interested for many more reasons than that. The synopsis was intriguing and the prospect of a brand new female author publishing some serious grimdark work had me sold! Now the real question is whether or not it was as awesome as hoped…. Well it was pretty great.
Let me go ahead and warn you that Godblind is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. I’ve read piles of books featuring violence of all sorts, but a particular scene from this book takes the cake- it actually made me feel a bit queasy which has never happened before. Even now as I recall it I find that I am perturbed. The violence was not gratuitous and changed the course of the story as it had been progressing up to that point, but wow, I wish I would have skipped that scene. Godblind is a dark, gritty fantasy where hope is lost and society is at a tipping point- primed to crumble only to be rebuilt in a crueler, colder fashion with blood as its mortar.
Anna Stephens introduces a truly impressive cast of characters from the very beginning with each POV having only enough pages to draw you in. I was impressed to find that I could actually remember who the characters were after about two POV chapters each, which is a testament to her writing skills in my opinion. That’s not easy to do and there have been a few too many books where I’ve spent hundreds of pages reading only to find that I have no idea who half the characters really are. Rillirin was a particular favorite of mine- she was a slave of the Mireces but escaped when she knifed their king and left him in a puddle of blood. I liked her personality and her story arc, which took her from fearful slave to persistent warrior in training. There was a surprising amount of betrayal this book and I was often second guessing motives and doubting allegiances. I also spent much of the book mulling over what exactly ‘godblind’ meant but it’s sort of explained nearer to the end.
Overall, Godblind was quite good, but perhaps a bit too brutal for me to say I enjoyed it, though I certainly have an appreciation for Anna Stephen’s storytelling skills. If bloody, dark, and brutal fantasy is your thing then you should probably give this book a go! I found conflicting US release dates (thought it was June 20 until 5 minutes ago) but I’m going with Amazon’s declaration that it will be released July 11 in the US.