Series: The Children Trilogy #1
Publisher: Tor Books (August 14, 2014)
Length: 413 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
The Godless is a fantasy book which many readers have described as non-traditional storytelling, some even going so far as to say it is “difficult to follow” or “confusing.” And while I can understand where others might find this delicious world building dish not to their liking, I found it a mesmerizing revelation, which dazzled me with its unique and compelling mythology.
Millennia ago, an epic battle between the gods took place. This war changing the shape of heaven and earth, as the bodies of the dead divinities lay scattered across the globe. The land reforming around them; mountains, lakes, forests, and other natural features growing upon their fallen forms.
But while the gods themselves are dead, their power lives on. Random men and women awakening to strange yet wondrous powers that come from the remaining essence of the fallen gods. The “lucky” (or unlucky) recipients of these powers having their lives turned upside down without warning, driven to either suppress or learn to wield their gifts.
In this particular story, Ben Peek takes us to the city of Mirea; this cosmopolitan state built in a mountainous region where the god Ger’s body lies entombed in stone. Here we are introduced to several characters, the most important being Ayae, who is a young, cartographer who escapes a raging fire and learns she has been “cursed” by the divine essence of the gods. Her life thrown into turmoil, even as Zaifyr the Mystic tries to teach her how to control with her powers and coup with this change in her life.
Thrown into this mix of magical discovery and mystical training is the mercenary Bueralan. This exiled baron hired by the leaders of Mirea to investigate and sabotage a neighboring enemy kingdom named Leera. The two countries locked in a slowly escalating war, which is ruining Mirea’s trade and threatening its very existence.
Without a doubt, the most praiseworthy feature of The Godless is the amazing world Ben Peek has created. This place is massive in scale, brimming with ancient history, mesmerizing in complexity, and breathtaking in conception. The idea of fallen gods creating the geological features of the world is well thought out; the people with powers derived from divine essence (for lack of a better word) interesting; and the historical politics of the place very sound.
Even with all that worldbuilding going on, this book is also able to delve into deep, philosophical themes. Power is central to everything the characters go through, especially its ability to corrupt even the most well-intentioned. History is more than words written in moldy books, but something which actually matters, as the past explains and leads to the answers our main characters so desperately desire. And religion and the idea of good/evil touched upon more than once; the belief that the believer helps shape the fundamental nature of right and wrong explored.
My favorite part of the story, however, is the epic battles. Armies lay siege to cities. Magical battles are fought. The fate of our favorite characters hang in the balance. Exactly the type of edge-of-your-seat fantasy antics which I crave were delivered in massive doses in the alter stages of the tale.
The only criticism I have of The Godless is that the main characters underwhelmed me a bit. Yes, they were well molded by Mr. Peek, fleshed out with complete histories and valid reasons for their behavior, and I did understand them and their actions. But understanding a person and feeling an affinity for them are two separate things altogether. Perhaps my lack of bonding with Ayae, Zaifyr, Bueralan, and the rest is merely a case of personal preference, but I felt I needed to, at least, mention this issue.
Philosophical, theological, political, and mythological. Any of these words could be used to describe Ben Peek’s The Godless. Filled with diverse cultures, unique people, rich history, and complex politics, it is a great introduction to a fantasy series with amazing potential, one which I thoroughly enjoyed partaking of.
I received this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.