Okay, I rarely make it past the first book in a series. I have to love and 5 star the first two books if I’m going to make it to a third. With all the SPFBO/SPSFC and review requests I get, making time to finish a series just doesn’t happen often.
Okay, so big spoiler alerts for the first two books in the series will follow down below, so if you haven’t read Aching God, I’d go read that review instead: https://weatherwaxreport.blog/2018/07/12/the-aching-god-by-mike-shel/
You’ve been warned 😀
I didn’t know how I was going to react when book 3 was going to continue the story without “the main character”. I have only seen that done a few times where arguably the biggest character and plot driving person in a series fucking dies, and then you have secondary characters pick up the plot and carry it through the next book. This can fall on its face hard because the reader has already spent multiple books investing in a character only to have to re-invest their feelings into a different person, or persons in this case. I did struggle with it the first 20 percent or so of the book, but I did become just as attached to Agnes as I was to her father.
I also found her story fascinating. Her father’s sword has woken up and is speaking with her on a regular basis, not just when she’s in danger. The sword is trying to lead Agnes on a quest to free humanity from the faux gods who are supposedly just benefiting from humanities tragedies. The sword has Agnes doing some very questionable things throughout the book and the theme sort of follows “the greater good” concept… where awful things are done to try and prevent something even worse from happening. There was a line about how leadership sometimes means choosing which people are going to die when none of them “deserve” it. There were many hard choices and Agnes is a character who believes whole heartedly that she’s doing the right thing, and she will stop at nothing to save humanity, and the cost is high.
Along with Agnes we follow a couple other characters; Siru the healer priest of Balu, (Siru? Balu? My spelling might be wrong, I audio-booked) who lost her faith was another character I found really fascinating. After being told that her gods are false and Balu isn’t some great healer, but loves to feed off the suffering of humanity… she’s turned from a kind and generous person into someone bitter and hateful. It’s really sad to watch but it made for an engaging and dynamic character arc.
The writing was brutal and descriptive as always, and if anything I think the prose have improved with each book, giving me a more visceral experience with each new installment. These books are long and the pacing can be slow, I would expect that this would be the main complaint from most, but I really enjoyed my time with all three and didn’t find it to be slow for me. There was a lot of journeying in all of the books but because that time was spent digging into character relationships and the depths of their motivations and whatnot I always found it engrossing even when they weren’t dungeon crawling/god killing. About halfway through this book there’s a serious moment where the new queen goes “oh my god, what did I do?” and it changes the whole tone of the book across the POVs as a major revelation serves as a plot twist. After this I found the pacing to go even quicker because I was so nervous about the implications, it created a lot of tension even for those not in the queens immediate vicinity.
This was a great book and I’ve been so thoroughly satisfied with this whole series, it’s been a gratifying adventure.
- Plot: 13.5/15
- Characters: 14/15
- World Building: 14/15
- Writing: 13/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 87.5/100 or 5/5 stars on Goodreads