Author: Anna Stephens
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Intense, captivating and powerful; Godblind is the fantastic debut fantasy from author Anna Stephens. It is a novel that is filled to the brim with war, political intrigue and gods, capturing a number of different themes from free will to feminism, but all within the threads of the novel. It is set in a world where the Red Gods have been exiled and their people cast out, but now revenge is on the horizon and no-one can escape the call of the Gods.
I will admit, I really was not sure about this book when I began. The contents page told me that it would be told from a large number of character perspectives. The first page was full of so much world-building, it was near-impossible to take in. Yet, once the book got going, the daunting beginning turned into something which took you elsewhere, to the world within the pages. The multiple points of view worked well in creating a rounded narrative which both increased the intensity of the story and showed how a war can be fought on multiple fronts, with multiple perspectives.
My main gripe with the novel was the pacing, or rather the effect the pacing had on my reading experience. The pacing itself was perfect – it kept the novel moving and successfully navigated the balance between action and breathers. However, it also convinced me that I was reading a stand-alone novel. So much happened and it felt like Godblind was rounding up to a brilliant conclusion, and then the cliff-hangers began. This novel is not, as I first thought, a stand-alone fantasy novel, but rather the first in a series. The series, I have no doubt, will be brilliant, but it was such a frustrating ending to have gone through so much with the characters and then not have any conclusion at the end.
As I mentioned, this book features a lot of characters, both POV and secondary characters. This did concern me when I first started as I find that having too many character perspectives can be confusing and a bit of a turn off but Anna Stephens handles this beautifully. Each one has their own story-line, but at no point does it ever feel like the characters are there for no reason. Everything is inter-connected and every character feels integral to the plot. I also particularly enjoyed how even the more villainous characters got their own perspective, showing their motivations and how there are not just two sides to the war.
The Gods themselves are particularly intriguing. We only really see the Dark Lady in close detail, but it was fascinating to see her bring all her pieces into play, in her attempt to achieve her goals. The Gods’ interactions with the other characters was interesting to read, particularly as it made you question who really was in control at times.
The world in this book is phenomenal. Despite a rough start of intense world-building, it settles down quite quickly and the world begins to gradually rise around you as you read. The different character perspectives allow you to see a large number of different places and lifestyles of the world Anna Stephens has created and it is a fascinating one.
The cultures for both the Rilporians and the Mireces are well established, especially how their cultures have been built up around the traits of their gods. The interaction between the Gods and the mortals also added another layer to the novel, particularly with the similarities and differences between the worship of the Red Gods and the Rilporian Gods. I just wish I’d had a map, just to be able to better picture the distances and where the towns and cities were in relation to one another.
If you are to read any fantasy novel this year, this should be near the top of your list. It was unlike any fantasy book I’ve read recently and stood out to me both in story and writing. I do wish I had known it was the first in a series when I was reading it as the ended was a bit disappointing for me, especially since I’m going to have to wait so long for the sequel, but everything else worked brilliantly. Godblind is a fantastic novel and a remarkable debut.
Godblind will be released on the 15th June 2017.
The Book Depository (I receive a small commission when this link is used): https://www.bookdepository.com/Godblind-Ann-Stephens/9781945863066?a=aidrosienreads