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The Godless

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The first in a crackling, unputdownable new epic fantasy series, introducing a fascinating, original new world and an incredible heroine. The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world's ocean. For thousands of years, me The first in a crackling, unputdownable new epic fantasy series, introducing a fascinating, original new world and an incredible heroine. The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world's ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger. Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea. With the help of Zaifyr, a strange man adorned with charms, she is taught the awful history of ‘cursed’ men and women, coming to grips with her new powers and the enemies they make. Meanwhile, the saboteur Bueralan infiltrates the army that is approaching her home to learn its terrible secret. Split between the three points of view, The Godless' narrative reaches its conclusion during an epic siege, where Ayae, Zaifyr and Bueralan are forced not just into conflict with those invading, but with those inside the city who wish to do them harm. The first installment of an exciting new epic fantasy series, The Godless is a fast-paced page turner set in an enthralling new world, perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Brent Weeks.


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The first in a crackling, unputdownable new epic fantasy series, introducing a fascinating, original new world and an incredible heroine. The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world's ocean. For thousands of years, me The first in a crackling, unputdownable new epic fantasy series, introducing a fascinating, original new world and an incredible heroine. The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world's ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger. Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea. With the help of Zaifyr, a strange man adorned with charms, she is taught the awful history of ‘cursed’ men and women, coming to grips with her new powers and the enemies they make. Meanwhile, the saboteur Bueralan infiltrates the army that is approaching her home to learn its terrible secret. Split between the three points of view, The Godless' narrative reaches its conclusion during an epic siege, where Ayae, Zaifyr and Bueralan are forced not just into conflict with those invading, but with those inside the city who wish to do them harm. The first installment of an exciting new epic fantasy series, The Godless is a fast-paced page turner set in an enthralling new world, perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Brent Weeks.

30 review for The Godless

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bookwraiths

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. 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 Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. 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. Into this mix of magical discovery and mystical training also comes the mercenary Bueralan. The 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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2014/09/23/b... The Godless caught me off guard a bit, as it ended up not being the kind of book I was expecting at all. Mainly, it doesn’t read like it was meant to have a traditional story plot, and I don’t doubt that could be the reason for the many reviews I’ve seen describing it as confusing or difficult to summarize. Books like these are generally not my cup of tea, but The Godless did manage to hold me rapt with its epic world and 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2014/09/23/b... The Godless caught me off guard a bit, as it ended up not being the kind of book I was expecting at all. Mainly, it doesn’t read like it was meant to have a traditional story plot, and I don’t doubt that could be the reason for the many reviews I’ve seen describing it as confusing or difficult to summarize. Books like these are generally not my cup of tea, but The Godless did manage to hold me rapt with its epic world and fascinating mythology. Thousands of years ago, the gods warred. After their conflict, the dead or dying ended up scattered across the world, becoming part of the forests, mountains, and other features of the land. Since then, men and women have awakened with strange and spectacular powers that are derived from the fallen gods’ bodies. The Godless takes place mostly in Mirea, a city built by a massive stone wall that spans a mountain range which houses the body of one of these gods, Ger. The book follows the lives of several characters: Ayae, the young apprentice of a cartographer who discovers she is “cursed” after emerging completely unharmed from the flames that devoured her shop; Bueralan, an exiled baron who leads a team of mercenaries hired by Mirea to sabotage Leera, a neighboring enemy kingdom; and Zaifyr, a mysterious, centuries-old mystic who teaches and advises Ayae after the emergence of her powers. The Godless is indeed a bit difficult to describe, as I found it overall heavy on ideas and history while coming in on the lighter side when it came to plot and character development. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even though books like this aren’t typically my taste, they are chockfull of potential if written well. To its credit, The Godless did keep me interested, but it didn’t have the momentum I desired. While the concepts of the gods and the individuals with special powers are nothing short of extraordinary, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing from the story, a lack of a unifying thread tying it all together which would have made this one a truly engaging read. The characters themselves are well-formed with very complete backstories, but their personalities seemed muted somehow. I felt no particular affinity towards any of them, and despite the time spent with each character, I regarded them from an emotional distance. The Godless also isn’t something I would call fast-paced or a page-turner, though it does have its moments at the beginning and towards the end. There’s a lot of detail to take in in between, meant to be absorbed and savored, so I wasn’t surprised this one ended up being a slower read. I think I went into this expecting something akin to a heroic fantasy, but that wasn’t how it played out, and it was through no fault of the book or the author. By design, the narrative seemed more interested in emphasizing the complex philosophy and theological ideas, the political history between Miera and Leera, as well as the lore and mythology behind the gods’ war and the Cursed. It’s a compelling read, and there’s no denying that. This first book is a great introduction to a series with a boatload of potential. Still, while I enjoyed reading about the world of The Godless with its diverse peoples and cultures, its rich history and politics, my own priority would be characters and story. But obviously, we all have different tastes. If the sort of world building I described in the above paragraph is something you enjoy, then this book would be perfect for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben Peek

    I mean, clearly I am to be trusted... Actually, I'm mostly just dropping a link to Tor.com's site, which has the first five chapters up for those who would like a sample to try. In the book, there is a prologue before this, but here you are introduced to the main three characters of the book. Read here. There is also, for those of you interested, a soundtrack. As always, thank you for your time and your interest, regardless of your opinion of the book or series. Update: Just a quick update to list so I mean, clearly I am to be trusted... Actually, I'm mostly just dropping a link to Tor.com's site, which has the first five chapters up for those who would like a sample to try. In the book, there is a prologue before this, but here you are introduced to the main three characters of the book. Read here. There is also, for those of you interested, a soundtrack. As always, thank you for your time and your interest, regardless of your opinion of the book or series. Update: Just a quick update to list some interviews I did for The Godless. With David Barnett at Tor.com With Rjurik Davidson at Fantasy Faction (this one is actually huge) At the Bookplank At Civilian Reader At My Bookish Ways At a Fantastical Librarian

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Kristin

    This is very much a case of I don't know how to rate this book so I'll just give it three stars. There are some really great things about it, yet some not-so great things about it as well. Personally I would say this sits at about a 3.5 rating simply because I liked it more than a 3 star read but not sure it deserves a 4. The Good Stuff The world is remarkable. Seriously. I am one of those fantasy readers that has read more than most but not enough to be a true professor of the genre. I am slowl This is very much a case of I don't know how to rate this book so I'll just give it three stars. There are some really great things about it, yet some not-so great things about it as well. Personally I would say this sits at about a 3.5 rating simply because I liked it more than a 3 star read but not sure it deserves a 4. The Good Stuff The world is remarkable. Seriously. I am one of those fantasy readers that has read more than most but not enough to be a true professor of the genre. I am slowly working my way through what I need to work through. However, that being said, I have yet to encounter a world built so richly and so detailed that I would put it on the same level as The Eye of the World - and lord knows I love me some Wheel of Time. I have read many reviews and this seems to be a general consensus amongst the crowd. World building...utterly excellent, wildly creative, and downright cool. I mean, its about a landscape that is littered with the dead bodies of fallen God's who passed in a giant battle 15,000 years before the novel takes place. That's cool man! I also didn't hate the characters. Personally, I have seen other readers of this novel not enjoy the characters as much and to be fair I could see why. I really only liked 2 out of the 3 main narrators but found this novel completely lacking in tropes, stereotypes, and cliches. Female characters are portrayed as strong, independent, and in control. I found the characters deep and refreshing. The Not-So Good If the strengths of this novel are in it's world building and sheer creativity than the weakness is definitely in the execution. I won't go as far as to say the writing isn't good, because I think for me it might rely on personal taste. For instance, I am not a huge fan of the alternating POVs; it really depends on how you do it, if you can pace the novel correctly, and keep my attention. In this case it failed. I felt the pace of the novel was really slow and it was hard to keep track of who was who, where in time they were, and what the point was. This had not two but three alternating points of view and it would sometimes offer flashbacks in certain chapters. It was too much for me and I lost focus more times than I care to admit in this review. The other glaring negative about this book is that there is no plot. At first I totally got what was going on. The prologue killed me and when you find out (view spoiler)[that the ate the poor guys body (hide spoiler)] you were kinda like....whoa....take me further please! But then as I progressed I felt lost and kinda moronic that I didn't know what direction the novel was going. I tried reading the summary blurb on the jacket and it in essence summarized the first 40 pages....mmmmmmmmk. I guess in retrospect I can see a trajectory that the novel took but I might go out on a limb here and say this was written in a stream of consciousness type of style. It also suffers greatly from a bad case of info dumping which normally I don't hate, but this time around it was a big distraction. I'm hoping as this little series continues there may be a more directed path, but just know this one really didn't have that. Again, this may be why I didn't care for the writing style, but there may be folks out there who enjoy stuff like this. I don't know... So despite pointing out some negatives of this novel I really did enjoy it...albeit with a grain of salt. I want to move into this universe and live inside a God and meet people who are thousands of years old. Is that so hard to ask?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I must admit that I passed up on purchasing The Godless when it was first released. Something about the blurb deterred me at the time. In hindsight that was a very stupid decision on my part, and I'm glad that I changed my mind and raced to the store to pick a copy to read over the holidays. The Godless tells the story of many fallen gods whose bodies lay strewn across the world after their cataclysmic war. Their power has not fully diminished however, and it inhabits certain individuals from ti I must admit that I passed up on purchasing The Godless when it was first released. Something about the blurb deterred me at the time. In hindsight that was a very stupid decision on my part, and I'm glad that I changed my mind and raced to the store to pick a copy to read over the holidays. The Godless tells the story of many fallen gods whose bodies lay strewn across the world after their cataclysmic war. Their power has not fully diminished however, and it inhabits certain individuals from time to time, gifting them unusual powers and extended life. One such person, Ayae, finds herself 'god-touched' and drawn into a complex web of politics, war, betrayal, and destruction that will result in enemies and death no matter what. So what did I love about The Godless? Many, many things. First up I found the world Peek created in The Godless to be utterly immersive and massive in breadth and scale. It was wonderful, for example, to read about how the merchant city of Mireya lies atop of the crystallised spine of the god Ger. And that if you tunnel down into the mountains you are basically tunnelling through Ger's carcass. I also adored how Peek stomped on well used tropes (white male heroes for example) by embracing diversity and equality throughout the novel. The Godless features many different and fascinating characters (especially powerful women... which is bloody awesome!), from the fire wielding Ayae and strange Zaifyr through to Lady Waggan and the nefarious Bau and Fo. I was mesmerised by them all, especially Zaifyr, whose history and depth (not to mention his many mistakes and corrupted soul) blew my mind. Secondly I loved the ideas and concepts explored in the Godless. History, power (and its ability to corrupt), religion, and the notions of good and evil are all touched on and examined throughout the novel. This really added to my enjoyment, and I loved how Peek explored and picked each of them apart (Peek's style and exploration of ideas reminded me a lot of Rjurik Davidson's Unwrapped Sky... which I loved as well) as the story unfolded. Finally, I loved how Peek let the story evolve and unfold. I cared about what was happening, and I was on the edge of my seat reading late into the night as armies laid siege to cities, and magical and supernatural battles played out. This to me was fantasy at its best... challenging... yet also adventurous and full of intrigue and high stakes. If I had one small criticism (and it is a very very small one) it would be that I perhaps wanted a little more background as a reader before I was thrown in at the deep end at the start of the book. All in all I really enjoyed reading The Godless. I found it to be an original, fascinating and bloody enjoyable work that all fans of fantasy should read! One of my reading highlights in recent years! 4 out of 5 stars. smashdragons.blogspot.com.au

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    Finished my re-read for Leviathan's Blood. It had been so long that I couldn't remember a few of the finer plot points. And of course, the next book has a wonderful intro that tells almost everything that happened in this book summarized... Anyway, I love the premise of this book. The gods have died and their power is finding homes in the bodies of humans, but that isn't always a good thing. I did a book/audiobook tag team on this, and I am not a huge fan of the Narrator. He is a little monotone Finished my re-read for Leviathan's Blood. It had been so long that I couldn't remember a few of the finer plot points. And of course, the next book has a wonderful intro that tells almost everything that happened in this book summarized... Anyway, I love the premise of this book. The gods have died and their power is finding homes in the bodies of humans, but that isn't always a good thing. I did a book/audiobook tag team on this, and I am not a huge fan of the Narrator. He is a little monotone and drones on a little bit. That being said, I like that a lot more than someone whose voice is completely off from the voice in my head, so there is that. I am hoping that I get a little more info on some of the ancillary characters of this world in the next book. This one spent almost all of its focus on the one city and the battle/siege that was taking place, so there wasn't a whole lot of world building beyond that. Now, sequel HOOOOOO!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Fantasy Review Barn A siege of a single city thousands of years in the making. Three distinct eras of history in one book each with distinct characteristics and all important to events of the day. Gods with real power, a real sine of wonder, and thought processes that are alien to those on a lesser plain. More importantly these gods have a since of awesome in the truly biblical meaning of the word. The Godless is unique in style, deep in history, and just a little bit wonderful. The story starts w Fantasy Review Barn A siege of a single city thousands of years in the making. Three distinct eras of history in one book each with distinct characteristics and all important to events of the day. Gods with real power, a real sine of wonder, and thought processes that are alien to those on a lesser plain. More importantly these gods have a since of awesome in the truly biblical meaning of the word. The Godless is unique in style, deep in history, and just a little bit wonderful. The story starts with Ayae, a young refuge living in Mireea with a promising future as a cartographer. Despite the city knowing war is coming there is still a safe feel for the inhabitants. An attack changes that in an instant for Ayae. Despite being saved by an enigmatic man the real surprise is how she came out unscathed; pulled of the burning mess without so much as a mark. Conspiracies start to show themselves all over from there. Dead gods, living gods, and ‘keepers’ who consider themselves to be ascending gods all start to show their hands. Told in a fractured style this isn’t a book for someone who prefers linear plot lines. Chapters often alternate between the present and one of several time lines; be it recent or distant past. Somehow this is done without ever messing with the feeling of urgency in the present day. Peeks into he past allowed this world to gain its rich history without awkward info dumps, I found myself looking forward to jumps back each and every time one showed. Done especially well is each era feels like a different time period in style and background. Turns out that if something that should be immortal dies it is not an instant thing. Moving between the characters the larger story slowly unfolds. Ayae’s path stays within one timeline; the siege of the city and the attack on her early in the book make up her concerns. She quickly runs with some illustrious company though not always by choice. The keepers eye her because of her affinity with fire and want her full support; truly enigmatic characters who seem to be on no side. A small mercenary force moves behind enemy lines and learn the enemies’’ plans involve so much more than simple conquest. And Zaifyr, the mysterious man who pulls Ayae out of the fire, quickly becomes the highlight of the whole book. His story can be found moving between times, showing the evolution of just what people think the gods’ fall actually meant. All the while he holds a piece of power from the gods’ fall that has sent him into a cycle of insanity and back. A slow burn of a book but with enough zip and wit to hold my attention. Characters are easy to relate to and even to cheer for. Twists actually caught me by surprise and the villain’s plan and will to act on it was worthy of the battle to come. I have said it before; this dying gods sub-genre of fantasy can stick around for as long as it wants. The Godless is another great entry into this very specific classification. 4 Stars Copy used for review received from the author (and signed, thank you good sir!).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rjurik Davidson

    Ben's a friend of mine, but regardless, he's produced a very fine book. Truth be told, I'm not a huge fantasy fan: it's a genre plagued by cliché and loaded with genre conventions. Or perhaps I should rephrase this: fantasy too often doesn't live up to its potential. I'm a fan of fantasy as it could be, rather than as it is. The think I like about The Godless is that it breaks so many of those tedious conventions, most obviously in terms of race, but also in terms of narrative. His book is rich Ben's a friend of mine, but regardless, he's produced a very fine book. Truth be told, I'm not a huge fantasy fan: it's a genre plagued by cliché and loaded with genre conventions. Or perhaps I should rephrase this: fantasy too often doesn't live up to its potential. I'm a fan of fantasy as it could be, rather than as it is. The think I like about The Godless is that it breaks so many of those tedious conventions, most obviously in terms of race, but also in terms of narrative. His book is rich and multilayered, it isn't strictly linear, and I didn't ever think: "Oh, I know how this is going to end." I suspect some fantasy fans might find it slow or perhaps too complex, but that says more about their reading habits than the book itself. If I were to have any gripes they would be minor ones: there are a few copy editing errors and at points I felt it might have been tighter. But as I say, these are minor compared with The Godless's virtues. Give me original and ambitious over another rehearsal of narrative conventions any day.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lorena

    I was excited when I won an ARC of this book through the Goodreads First Reads contest, because I had heard a lot of good early reviews and was looking forward to reading for myself. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to expectations. Had I not felt some obligation to read it to the end for the sake of this review, I would have left it unfinished at the halfway point, and I almost NEVER leave a book unfinished. As it was, I had to put it down and read something else in the middle just to get ba I was excited when I won an ARC of this book through the Goodreads First Reads contest, because I had heard a lot of good early reviews and was looking forward to reading for myself. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to expectations. Had I not felt some obligation to read it to the end for the sake of this review, I would have left it unfinished at the halfway point, and I almost NEVER leave a book unfinished. As it was, I had to put it down and read something else in the middle just to get back the will to continue on. I will give this book credit for a couple of things - first, the concept of a world that is still coming to grips with the centuries-long process of the dying of all of their gods, and the fact that some of these dying gods' powers have a tendency to manifest in random people (sometimes with super-power-like results, sometimes destroying them and those around them completely) is really interesting. Second, I liked the racial and gender equity in this book. It took the time to describe EVERY character's skin color, instead of defaulting to white and only mentioning skin color if the person was an "other," and women and men occupied a variety of positions in society without that being much of an issue. So, kudos for that. The problem was that the very interesting foundational concept and what could have been an interesting society to spend time in were not very well described or explored. Even given that the copy I reviewed was an ARC, with plenty of spelling errors and missing words that I expect will be corrected before the book actually goes to press, I was shocked at the overall low quality of the writing. There were tons of run-on and confusingly-worded sentences that I do not think were the fault of a hasty print job. Time and again, I found myself having to stop and go back to re-read a sentence or a paragraph just to try to make subjects and verbs match up, or to understand the basic gist, and this seriously detracted from the story. In addition, the story was a little thin and very choppy, jumping between multiple viewpoint characters, in the past and in the present, without much of a thread to connect the narrative. I couldn't help but compare this book to Brandon Sanderson's "Way Of Kings," with which it has a lot of superficial things in common: both are the first books of planned epic series, featuring jumps between multiple viewpoint characters, that end with a revelation that shows you that you are just getting started with understanding what is really going on in their worlds. Unfortunately, that comparison is not a good one for "The Godless." "Way Of Kings" shows how this SHOULD be done, with a really thoughtfully-imagined world that doles out enough details to let you picture the setting clearly, while also leaving questions that the reader WANTS to pursue to understand more in coming books, and with fully-developed characters that feel real. "The Godless" does none of this. I have very little idea about what the "Godless" world looks like, or its culture, before or after the dying of the gods. It's not that this wasn't attempted, it just wasn't very thorough or very good. The same goes for our characters. I felt like there was a lot of telling instead of showing what kind of people they were, and not much telling at that. To sum up, it didn't really work for me, and I won't be continuing with the series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    The book follows three main characters through a holy war on a trade city and the siege of the city in a world where the gods have died and their remains are slowly fading. The magic system is interesting with people "cursed" with the liberated abilities of the gods, some good, most not so good. The focus of the book is on the deaths of the gods and the immortals that have inherited their abilities. There's also a fair amount of time spent on the political situation, but it's all a bit muddled d The book follows three main characters through a holy war on a trade city and the siege of the city in a world where the gods have died and their remains are slowly fading. The magic system is interesting with people "cursed" with the liberated abilities of the gods, some good, most not so good. The focus of the book is on the deaths of the gods and the immortals that have inherited their abilities. There's also a fair amount of time spent on the political situation, but it's all a bit muddled due to the main characters (particularly Zaifyr) reminiscing all over the place. So it's hard to separate political happenings of centuries before from events now. The book also uses an extremely annoying technique of tiny little chapters that switch between PoV characters almost invariably when something interesting happens. It gives the feeling of constant cliff-hangers, but it takes all the urgency away from each cliff-hanger because you've had the cliff-hangers of two other PoV characters before you get the resolution to any given cliff-hanger. I also want to grumble about diversity and feminism. This book has both. Two of the three PoV characters are black (although Ayea may be Asian from the looks of the paperback cover ... that's far from clear in the book). Also the city is led by a woman (with a decorative husband) and women appear in the armies and mercenary companies completely unremarked. That's great. But there's a number of issues here: - There's allusions to race wars in a place called Marble Palaces, but no-one remarks on race anywhere in the book. People are fighting wars in one part of the world on the issue and no-one cares elsewhere? Seems odd. - In a society with classic fantasy levels of tech (horsepower, no industrialization) there are actual barriers to an egalitarian society, not least of which is a lack of birth control. Ayea is assumed to be sexually active - what happens to her if she gets pregnant? She's a single female with no family. I don't care if you address these issues by herbs, magic, blood-witches or whatever, but they can't go unaddressed ... Overall, an interesting story, but not enough is resolved and I found the world-building frustrating.

  11. 5 out of 5

    wishforagiraffe

    The Godless is a really excellent book. The plot is seemingly straightforward, as is the prose, but both are deceptively simple. With a world where dead and dying gods power the magic, but no one really knows *how*, it's perfect to have the reader finding out alongside one of the main viewpoint characters. This doesn't feel contrived or cliche, especially given that there are powerful people on both sides of the conflict who have vested stakes in making sure that what is known stays hidden, and The Godless is a really excellent book. The plot is seemingly straightforward, as is the prose, but both are deceptively simple. With a world where dead and dying gods power the magic, but no one really knows *how*, it's perfect to have the reader finding out alongside one of the main viewpoint characters. This doesn't feel contrived or cliche, especially given that there are powerful people on both sides of the conflict who have vested stakes in making sure that what is known stays hidden, and what is being discovered can be used only by their side. I think folks who are fans of Malazan may find something to enjoy here. While the world isn't as large and the cast of characters is nowhere the same size, there are similar themes about power, humanity, and godhood to be found, with a lower barrier to entry for the uninitiated. Also recommended for people who prefer their characters to not be "chosen ones" and for diverse casts from all walks of life. Plus map geeks (one of the main characters is a cartography apprentice!). I received a copy of the book from the author in return for a (very late, but honest) review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I've been babbling about this since I read it -- I really enjoyed this. Keeping in mind that I don't read much epic fantasy to begin with, this is like epic fantasy for fantasy veterans in that it breaks a lot of the expected tropes in half. It's political and working itself up to something more dire, but philosophical and thinking about the connotations and consequences of a world whose gods have died but where their power hasn't quite faded. It was good. I think Malazan fans would like it. Th I've been babbling about this since I read it -- I really enjoyed this. Keeping in mind that I don't read much epic fantasy to begin with, this is like epic fantasy for fantasy veterans in that it breaks a lot of the expected tropes in half. It's political and working itself up to something more dire, but philosophical and thinking about the connotations and consequences of a world whose gods have died but where their power hasn't quite faded. It was good. I think Malazan fans would like it. The second book just came out in the US today (yesterday?) and I may have to pick it up in the near future.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mieneke

    Ben Peek’s The Godless is one of this summer’s big titles. And from the moment I learned about this title when Tor UK asked for feedback on the cover design I knew I wanted to read this book and find out more about its protagonist Ayae. Meanwhile I’ve been reading numerous interviews and guest posts with and by the author and his views on diversity only made me more excited to read the book. Peek certainly delivered on his promise of diversity with all of his protagonists being people of colour. Ben Peek’s The Godless is one of this summer’s big titles. And from the moment I learned about this title when Tor UK asked for feedback on the cover design I knew I wanted to read this book and find out more about its protagonist Ayae. Meanwhile I’ve been reading numerous interviews and guest posts with and by the author and his views on diversity only made me more excited to read the book. Peek certainly delivered on his promise of diversity with all of his protagonists being people of colour. In fact, so many character descriptions included references to skin colour, that I found myself actually noticing and finding it jarring, until I realised that most of the times I felt this way it was when a character was described as white. A fact I found painful as it rather revealed what I guess is an unconscious bias or at least a privileged position and I expect better from myself. So if only for that The Godless would have been an interesting and valuable reading experience. However, The Godless is far more than just its approach to diversity, it’s also an exploration of what it means to have faith, of the definition of divinity, and the dangers of extreme zealotry. The base of this is the War of the Gods, which has killed or fatally wounded the gods of Peek’s world. Leaking from their imminent corpses is what is essentially their divine essence, an essence that can infect mortals and grant them strange powers and in some cases immortality. These changed mortals are considered either blessed or cursed. In some countries they are put on a pedestal, in others such as the city of Mireea they are shunned and sometimes even persecuted in a way that is faintly reminiscent of the witch hunts of yore. There is a lot of philosophising about what makes one divine, but it’s never done in an overly preaching manner, it’s far more subtle and part of what drives the different characters' past and present. The three main viewpoint characters are Ayae, Zaifyr, and Bueralan. Ayae is the most traditional story-wise, being the young orphan with an unexpected ability trying to figure out their new identity, only this time it’s a young woman of colour, instead of your typical white farm boy. In fact, while Ayae is young, she’s no innocent having survived the decimation of her homeland and having been brought to Mireea as a refugee. She’s seen some horrible things as a young child and has had to care for herself ever since leaving the orphanage. Consequently there is a maturity to Ayae belying her youth, one that her reactions reflect in the story. No teenage angst here, she acknowledges her fear and despite it, she acts; it may not be the right decision, but she is the one to take it. I also loved that thus far there is also no romantic arc for her; at the start of the book she’s in a committed relationship that is slowly petering out, its death hastened along by the emergence of her ability. If Ayae is our newbie learning the ropes then Zaifyr is the old pro providing the background and history. I really liked him and the way Peek tells his story, working both in the present time and in the past, giving us his ‘origin story’ and through his experiences developing the world of the Children series and its theological underpinnings. While we learn much about his past, Zaifyr remains somewhat of a mystery, whose intentions seem benign, yet stay nebulous. It is only towards the end of the book that we really seem to get a grip on why Zaifyr is involved and where the series arc will lead us. Our third main viewpoint comes from Bueralan, an exiled noble turned mercenary captain. He’s a highly respected saboteur, leading one of the most exclusive companies in the land. In many ways Bueralan was my favourite, perhaps because his was the least complex storyline of the three and yet offered lots of action and intrigue. We also get the most comprehensive history for Bueralan, learning how he became exiled and how his previous contract led him to take the job in Mireea. Bueralan is a fascinating character, one who has regrets, but is unapologetic for his past, something which I enjoyed. There are a number of other great characters such as the Captain of Mireea, Captain Heast, the healer Reila, the female mercenary captain Queila Meina, the ominous ‘children of the gods’ Fo and Bau – who are seriously unpleasant characters and rather scary. But my favourite secondary characters were Lady Wagan, the Lady of the Spine and ruler of Mireea, and Ayae’s master Samuel Orlan. Lady Wagan is a fabulous female character, one who is powerful and competent, yet caring and graceful and she’s emblematic of how Peek portrays his female characters. They all have agency and are in control of their destiny or at least as much as any of us are. Not all culture allow their women equal freedom, yet the women we encounter in The Godless are one and all no lesser than any of the men in the book and often even more. But by far the most intriguing and mysterious character of the book has to be Samuel Orlan, the eighty-second of that name, most famed cartographer of the world and Ayae’s master. I really liked this strange, old man, who has his fingers in far more pies than expected and whose intentions, like Zaifyr’s remain nebulous. For all intents and purposes, The Godless is very much a first book in a series. As fitting with a big fat fantasy – my ARC came to 562 pages and the font and margins weren’t unusually large – much of this first book is spent setting the stage, gathering the troops, and pointing them in the right direction. It is only once we get to the latter part of the book that we learn of the larger threat to the stability of this world, the root of the Leeran military campaign. While the immediate threat to Mireea is clear from the start, about halfway through the book I did start to wonder where Peek was going with the story. Yet the book is never slow and is written in a pleasant, smooth-reading style, one that easily keeps you turning pages. The Godless is an interesting opening volley to the Children series and I’ll certainly be back for the next instalment of the trilogy. Peek is a talented writer who juggles viewpoints, complex religious ideas, and conflict expertly, creating a vivid and detailed world for his characters to tromp around in, combining some complex issues with an excellent story. If you are looking for a new big fat epic fantasy series to get stuck into then The Godless is a good bet. I can’t wait to discover more of this world and about the mysterious Zaifyr and Master Orlan and to find out what happens next to Ayae and Bueralan. This book was provided for review by the publisher.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ctgt

    You think you can give up what is inside you? What remains of the gods finds us. In wombs, in childhood, in the summers and winters of our lives. Once it has found us, only death can drive it out. This is a book that benefited from the fact that I have been a complete slacker when it comes to writing my reviews. This was always going to be a high 4 stars but as I look over my notes and highlights(3 pages of google docs) I have to bump this to 5 stars, 10/10. Great characters and unique, surprisin You think you can give up what is inside you? What remains of the gods finds us. In wombs, in childhood, in the summers and winters of our lives. Once it has found us, only death can drive it out. This is a book that benefited from the fact that I have been a complete slacker when it comes to writing my reviews. This was always going to be a high 4 stars but as I look over my notes and highlights(3 pages of google docs) I have to bump this to 5 stars, 10/10. Great characters and unique, surprising worldbuilding=5 stars. The driving moment of this story actually happened in the past, The War of the Gods. Zaifyr had told her the Ger had sunk to his knees and began building the mountains, his cairn, after he had suffered a dying blow. Ger spoke for fifty-seven years as he built his burial mound. Priests gathered in tent cities around him and recorded every word he spoke. They wrote and rewrote and translated his words for hundreds of years, turning them into prophecies and morals. After the gods killed each other, there were two reactions. The first was to create temples around the fallen bodies, believing that the gods had not died. There were seventy-eight gods and it was believed they would be back. The second was to look for new gods. Children, as it were. A century later, five had begun to establish themselves. Those we named Immortals. Within this tomb there are twenty-three temples. That is what is recorded, at any rate, but I would not be surprised if there were more. Each of the buildings was built over a fissure directly over Ger’s body. It gave the priests access to the wounds that he had sustained against his brothers. For the centuries that they lived here the priests tended his wounds, attempting to heal him. It was their belief that he would rise again. Those first men and women made the Five Kingdoms. It emerged two thousand years after the war of the Gods, a society of progression, restriction, and at times, genocide. The five who ruled did not believe they would one day be gods, but believed they were in fact gods. Any who rose with similar powers-like you or me-were given an ultimatum: to join or die. Tensions are high in Mireea as incidents increase leading to suspicions that the kingdom of Leera may be preparing to attack. Lady Wagan of Mireea has hired on mercenary bands to help defend the city. Ayae, assistant to map maker Samuel Orlans is attacked in her workplace and her fire powers spring to life. This begins a complex tale of gods, kingdoms, cultures and religions. Some fantastic and horrific moments that at times reminded me of Malazan. I borrowed this book from the library but have since bought a copy because if this series continues like this first book, it could rank up there with some my favorites. 10/10

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Godless is a different take on the idea of being styling themselves as 'Gods' and the how humans interact with them and take them on! :D The Godless sees at the beginning of the book the apparent destruction of the Gods with the consequences of the after affects of their wars with each other and the adaption that humans make after the apparent war is over! :D As the story progresses we follow various characters throughout the world on different sides and we get to see that things are not as p The Godless is a different take on the idea of being styling themselves as 'Gods' and the how humans interact with them and take them on! :D The Godless sees at the beginning of the book the apparent destruction of the Gods with the consequences of the after affects of their wars with each other and the adaption that humans make after the apparent war is over! :D As the story progresses we follow various characters throughout the world on different sides and we get to see that things are not as plain as they are made out with a remnant of some of the Gods still about and manipulating things which sheds a lot of the characters actions into a totally new light where totally seeming independent things are seen to tie into the events that have been and are taking place! :D The book sets a fast pace with the storyline flicking back and forth between characters and places as well as flipping to the past and future to provide backstory for a number of characters showing us how they got to where they are and what they have been up to in their immortality and how society have been influenced! :D The idea of humans absorbing some of the Gods powers causes some of the them to get a bit of an ego centric personality and the actions that have taken place while they get over this attitude it informs a lot of the story contents as well as the actions of some of the characters in the present and this has a lot to bare on what happens in the book and what will happen in the future books as there is clearly a lot of setup in this first book with a cliff hangar ending that has a lot of the characters in some unexpected circumstances! :D The world that is created is very different but also because of the many of the themes running through the book creates a eerie feel to the book along with all the adventures taking place though in Ayae's case she is often jumping from the fire into the frying pan her experiences provide even more insight into the events that are taking place! :D Brillaint stuff and highly recommended! :D

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jasper

    originally posted at: http://thebookplank.blogspot.com/2014... Last year in April Tor UK came with a press release stating the acquisition of the Children series of Australian author Ben Peek, the first book, then titled Immolation but later changed to The Godless, would be published in May of 2014. When I read the synopsis of the book I knew this was just the book I was looking for. Using Gods in fantasy isn't a new concept but it is a concept that allows for a great story. The synopsis also mad originally posted at: http://thebookplank.blogspot.com/2014... Last year in April Tor UK came with a press release stating the acquisition of the Children series of Australian author Ben Peek, the first book, then titled Immolation but later changed to The Godless, would be published in May of 2014. When I read the synopsis of the book I knew this was just the book I was looking for. Using Gods in fantasy isn't a new concept but it is a concept that allows for a great story. The synopsis also made me wonder just what the setting of the story would be (I will get back to this later) next to this there are plenty of more cool fantasy elements mentioned that should readily invite you, no compel you to pick up The Godless. One DEBUT, yes it deserves to be capitalized, not to be missed. Ben Peek introduces originality and creates a unique spin with his story of The Godless that makes it readily stand out heads above shoulders from the rest. The first thing that readily falls to note, and which is bolstered by the prologue is the world wherein The Godless takes place. From the synopsis of the story I was thinking what I could expect, would it be a contemporary setting, bit like on our Earth but just fast forwarded fifteen thousand years without a science fiction influence or would it be a completely new surrounding and world. The world of The Godless is something completely made from scratch but Ben Peek has used some influences from existing genres, you can see from the cover of the book that our main protagonist Ayae doesn't wear any traditional old style clothing but more of our current time, yet she is wielding a flaming sword... doesn't this just cause you imagination to run wild? even more when you learn more of the world itself, Ayae is a cartographers apprentice which is more a job of the old times and an army is on the march to Mireea. Also take into account that the city of Mireea is build on the body of a God. The God Ger isn't the only remaining god, riddled across the landscape more and more dying gods can be found... and they are exerting their own power on the people... awakening them... I don't know what to think of the world is it history? is it in the future? is it dystopia? All I know is that it is great world building, and clearly reminds me of the world that Rjurik Davidson inspired in Unwrapped Sky (which was also a Tor debut earlier this year) on many fronts bright and dreamfull but on other front dark and gritty. The story of The Godless first picks up with an prologue where you already learn something about the world. What Ben Peek does correct here is trigger you again to think about what could be in store for you for the remained of the book, he raises many questions as to what and how and why. After the brief prologue the attention is set on the main protagonist of the story Ayae, a young and smart girl who experiences something that awakens a power within her, a godlike power, Ayae cannot be harmed by fire. However with her newly awakend power comes a price. The people who have been awakened are said to be cursed they bear a godhood upon them. With Ayae having her new power she becomes the target for the army that is marching upon the city of Mireea. Coinciding with Ayae's discovery come the appearance of three other men to Mireea. Zaifyr a wise old man whose body is riddled with charms to help him and ward of the bad and two Keepers of the Divine Fo and Bau. From this point onwards Ayae is thrown in the midst of a political game where she is being pulled in many directions by Zaifyr, Fo and Bau each having their own motivation for Ayae. And each of these men all have something to say about one another. During each of the conversations that Ayae has she learns more about the world and most important the history of the world and how several things came to pass. A different focus in the story is on the saboteur Bueralan. Bueralan is send out to sabotage the invading army. I actually found this a very cool idea, normally you have the large scale battles of army clashing against army, but here you have the covert invading "backstabing" saboteurs that infiltrate the other army and cause chaos from within the ranks. But with this job do come certain risks and Bueralan has his work cut out for him, if he wants to survive... In the beginning of The Godless the three narrations of Ayae, Zaifyr and Bueralan show only a bit of interconnection but as the story progresses and histories and intentions get revealed the web definitely becomes thicker, and makes the story that more engaging. Where Ben Peek kicks of his story with a slow burning plot, the book rapidly starts to build up speed and the end shows a nice escalation of the events with higher forces taking to the central stage... During the story of The Godless, you follow quite a few characters and most of them have been mentioned above already. Ayae a young woman takes the central lead in the story, with her character Ben Peek has created a very strong personality, however also one of doubt. As a cartographer Ayae knew just what the job meant but now that she has been awakened/cursed with her special ability, Ayae is being confronted by many different stories. She has to look for a way to give it all a place and come to terms with it. In this later part he determination readily comes to the forefront and she proves that she is not one to be pushed around. Her newly acquired powers might mark her for the approaching army but Ayae readily shows that she is becoming a deadly opponent for them... Next to Ayae you have a great focus on both Bueralan and Zaifyr. As I explained in the part of Bueralan, he is a saboteur set to disrupt the march of the invading army. In the earlier chapters you learn some interesting bits about his character and that he does have a past, for me I immediately had my thoughts about him whether he could be trusted... Bueralan is an established and great warrior who knows how to fight at one moment and duck at the other, his perspectives definitely broadened the world as it gave a clear sign of impending doom of the approaching army and that they mean business. Zaifyr adds an "divine" perspective to the story. His description is "a strange man adorned with charms". You don't learn anything in the beginning as to why he approaches Ayae, but he saves her life... Only to later learn that Zaifyr is much more than just a man... It's by his involvement in the story and conversing with other that you learn a lot about the terrible past or the world of The Godless. Perhaps his characters background isn't that original, it does work full color in the setting of The Godless. Next to these three more established characters there are plenty of other that you follow during the story. The Keepers of the Divine Fo and Bau and Samuel Orlan to name a few of the more "normal" men... Even though they are not the main focus point of the book, Ben Peek invests a lot of time in them to make them feel complete. I especially liked the whole involvement of Samuel Orlan from he beginning of the book until the end his motives always seem to change and you can't really pin him down... Fo and Bau are just nasty pieces of work and when push comes to shove a fiery and heated battle takes place... Next to the more "normal" characters of the book it does feel that Ben Peek is introducing some more divine ones as well, though there isn't any clear reference towards who is who, but Ben Peek readily triggers you to think about this. This latter part is achieved by the clever introductions to the chapters written by the god Qian. Here he introduces the background to the past and how his brother and sister acted and what for gods they are. Very cool and cleverly executed. One thing that I do have to mention is that Ben Peek does throw you a bit in the deep end with The Godless. There are a lot of new elements being introduced and ideas that come to show where he gives minimal explanation. Some readers might not be a big fan of this but what I have come to learn from several other debuts is that such an approach readily put me on edge and made sure that I wanted to find out what it all means. So I can safely say: where do I book my ticket for the sequel? If you read all the parts above I do think you will understand that I enjoyed reading The Godless a lot. It was one of my titles to look out for this year and Ben Peek made it worth the wait. From the beginning of the book right until the end I was glued to the pages. When using a existing theme, it's up to the author to give his or her own spin to it and this is exactly what Ben Peek does to Gods in The Godless. The world in which the story takes place is engaging, exciting and never stops to move; the characters Ayae, Zaifyr and Beuralan have a great narration to readily pull the story forward. The story of The Godless is in essence a coming-of-age and coming-to-terms-with-yourself kind of story and looking at the overall development of the story Ben Peek does a great job with this. Don't think that it is only talk in The Godless there are enough fighting and battle scenes both sword and sword fighting and with a more supernatural element thrown in the mix. I am going to repeat myself again. The Godless is a DEBUT not to be missed. In the interview I did with Ben Peek I asked him what to expect in the sequel, he said: Innocence... if you have read The Godless you will know what he means. I can't wait to see just to what heights Ben Peek will take his sequel. High hopes! Next year can't come soon enough!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Let this be clear: This is not a bad book. And I still hate to write reviews with a 1-star or 2-star rating. This book just wasn't for me. It's getting a lot of good reviews on Goodreads. This book was much better than other books that I DNF, that's why I gave it 2-stars this time. Writing this review feels so bad, especially because I won the book in a Goodreads Giveaway, but like I said; This book isn't Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Let this be clear: This is not a bad book. And I still hate to write reviews with a 1-star or 2-star rating. This book just wasn't for me. It's getting a lot of good reviews on Goodreads. This book was much better than other books that I DNF, that's why I gave it 2-stars this time. Writing this review feels so bad, especially because I won the book in a Goodreads Giveaway, but like I said; This book isn't for me. A longer review can be found at Bite Into Books Not a bad book, but just not a book for me. I've read a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads for this book and I know that it's not a bad book. I wasn't involved enough, I didn't get the story all that much and I didn't feel like reading another 200 pages in this book. Sad.. But true.

  18. 5 out of 5

    S.B. Wright

    It’s a big step moving from writing condensed, powerful and original short fiction to a multiple book, epic fantasy. As different as say running a 5km run and a marathon. In each case you use the same skill but the end objective, your tactics, how you cross the finish line or complete the work is different, enough to challenge the best runners or writers when they are used to one kind of event, one format. So how did Peek fare? He’s a very good short story writer (see Dead Americans) and The Godl It’s a big step moving from writing condensed, powerful and original short fiction to a multiple book, epic fantasy. As different as say running a 5km run and a marathon. In each case you use the same skill but the end objective, your tactics, how you cross the finish line or complete the work is different, enough to challenge the best runners or writers when they are used to one kind of event, one format. So how did Peek fare? He’s a very good short story writer (see Dead Americans) and The Godless is an epic in every sense of the word. Granted a trilogy is not an uncommon sight on fantasy shelves but I get the sense that in some at least there’s a fairly straightforward structure designed to move the story along, hook in readers who will become loyal – an understanding if you will between commerce, story and entertainment that produces an easily digestible product, where the text is transparent. Then there are books like The Godless that I think need the space for the scope and definition of the storytelling. The Godless is an epic, not just in terms of size but in its selection of characters and its apparent scope. The city at the centre of The Godless, Mireea, is built on the back of a dying god and for a significant part of the story I was unsure whether of not this was a metaphor, a creation story, for the gods as described seemed more of that ilk, primeval forces with human characteristics but godly dimensions. Then we have the Children of the Gods, humans gifted with longevity and power, humans that become immortals and whose life and power produce curious responses: a godlike ruler of animals, a reclusive enclave of detached natural philosophers, a crazed killer of nations. Then there are the “cursed”, those unfortunates blessed with elemental fragments of the god’s powers who are either shunned because of the differences or are killed by their inability to control the powers they hold. What happens to a world existing in the twilight of the god’s powers when a new god appears, is the big picture The Godless series will attempt to answer. But threaded through this epic tale are personal stories, personal tragedies that help to ground it. It’s these personal stories, the characters that they spring from that I found most interesting, especially for the genre of epic fantasy. We still have our sword and sorcery, our big battles, our scarred veterans and our young characters who we will follow on their journey. But Peek has I think made some original and diverse choices in building and filling his world. Our principle protagonist is not white, and not male - Ayae is an orphan, a refugee who up until our introduction to her has made a successful transition to being the apprentice of a renowned cartographer. Many authors paying lip service to diversity may have stopped there but Peek provides us with a diverse cast and that diversity is three dimensional - the ruler of Mireea, is a shrewd woman of middle age with the associated changes in body and shape that it brings for many of us. The leader of “Dark”, a bunch of mercenary saboteurs, is an exiled black nobleman and the invading army of nationalistic Leeran’s, is white. Men and women appear evenly in positions of power. Now I am sure that some sections of the science fiction community might rail against such blatantly fair representation. Me, well I see diversity done skilfully, diversity and originality that enhances story. When your characters feel like real people more so than archetypes then I think the reader finds it harder to slot them into well worn parts, into literary set pieces that they have long grown used to reading and anticipating. Diversity created interest, which kept my immersed along with Peek’s writing style. Peek’s writing asserted itself from the outset, I was very conscious of his style being an important part of the storytelling, of creating a sense of place and a mood. Some writing fades into the background, let’s the story do the heavy lifting. What I found in The Godless was a very good mix of fresh story and styled prose. Slowly, Mireea was becoming uniform: a city of shut buildings and empty lanes, the divisions of economy washed away and falling into memory like the sprawl of markets. Each new building shut up was a part of Mireea lost, and soon he would also be gone. If he was not, he ran the risk of being drawn into the units that the Mireean Guard were making from citizens. That he had no desire for. If you are looking for a page turner I am not sure I would classify The Godless as such, which is a good thing. I think you need to devote a bit more attention to it. This is the first of a great epic and I get the same sense of immersion and depth of history that I got when reading A Song of Ice and Fire. I want to know more about these characters, because they are fully realised and I can’t sate my curiosity by falling back on archetypes So how did Peek fare? Very well. If you want to enjoy what is possible to achieve when you look outside the standard fantasy tropes give The Godless a go. The e-Arc was provided by the publisher.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Williams

    http://lynnsbooks.wordpress.com/2014/... 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 M http://lynnsbooks.wordpress.com/2014/... 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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    THE BIBLIOPHILE (Rituranjan)

    A fascinating Epic fantasy. The Godless hasn't yet got the due attention that it deserves. However, this isn't a book for everyone. The readers who want a fast paced plot and a action-packed tale would be throughly disappointed. But, this is a book which has meticulous worldbuilding, a compelling mythology, a mix of politics and theological philosophy, and characters who are flawed and complex with motivations of their own. It took me some time to get into the book, but I was deeply immersed in A fascinating Epic fantasy. The Godless hasn't yet got the due attention that it deserves. However, this isn't a book for everyone. The readers who want a fast paced plot and a action-packed tale would be throughly disappointed. But, this is a book which has meticulous worldbuilding, a compelling mythology, a mix of politics and theological philosophy, and characters who are flawed and complex with motivations of their own. It took me some time to get into the book, but I was deeply immersed in the exotic world that Ben Peek has crafted with ingenuity. As the title suggests, The Godless is set in a world without Gods, gods who are dead or dying for thousands of years. The concept is very well-developed, especially in case of the world's geography where the sun is broken, the oceans poisoned with the blood of a dead god, a mountain which is the cairn for a dying god, and beings who possess a fragment of the dead gods power in them, and are known as Children of the Gods. In this book, the chief God that is frequently mentioned is Ger, also known as the warden of the Elements, and above whom the city of Mirrrea is situated. We also get a glimpse into the lives of a few immortal god-touched Children and a sneak-peek to the reason behind the war of the Gods that crippled the world along with their deaths . Peek builds up his unique tale along with the lore, history, and mythology of the Godless world brimming with politics and powerful Immortals, which has a magic to enthrall readers interested in fantasy that has a detailed world and a rich mythology. Ben Peek's story doesn't span continents and ages, and so it is easier to follow. Godless is set primarily in Mirrea and Leera. The upcoming threat of an holy war by the Leerans who proclaims to have found a new god of their own is the basis of the story. The story progresses in a linear way through three principal characters - a god-touched girl, an immortal who controls the dead, and a saboteur mercenary with a shady past. We come through numerous characters in the book, but these are the ones who are the major players in this war between humans and Immortals. Ayae is the girl who can control fire and the elements, and she grows herself from her naivete and begins to acknowledge herself. She who views her own power as a curse as is believed by others finds her stance in the conflict around her. Zaifyr is the most interesting character I have come across. Being over 11000 years old, and once worshipped as a God, and due to his supposed madness he tries to remain as a unaffected mystic, but is unable to do so. The other side-characters which piqued my interest are Captain Heast and Lady Wagan, who are strong, intelligent and determined, and has a lot of potential. Many readers had problems with the pacing of this book. As I said earlier, this isn't a action-packed story. Peek invests his time in world-building and developing the plotlines that are to be seen in his later books. The book is divided into some ten parts, and the short chapters that follow eases the flow of the story. There isn't in-depth study of characters, but he gives them enough space for introspection, and makes it possible for us to know their backgrounds. The emotional quotient is absent however, and hence, there was a detachment on my part while reading their experiences in the story. The few battle-scenes at the end of the book is well done. I liked the strategy and efficiency of fights. Finalizing my review, I liked this book and the epic story that it is trying to unfold. I will be continuing with the sequel.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kruizzer Alvarez

    Need to re-read this soon.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Keith Stevenson

    This review originally appeared at www.newtownreviewofbooks.com.au The best epic fantasy is a seamless blend of intricately wrought elements that creates a fully-realised world with a comprehensive and weighty history that continues to affect the lives of the equally real characters that inhabit it. On the (now not so) small screen, shows like A Game of Thrones have replaced the soap opera phenomenon of the 1980s, with audiences glued to the reversals and treacheries of the Lannisters, Starks and This review originally appeared at www.newtownreviewofbooks.com.au The best epic fantasy is a seamless blend of intricately wrought elements that creates a fully-realised world with a comprehensive and weighty history that continues to affect the lives of the equally real characters that inhabit it. On the (now not so) small screen, shows like A Game of Thrones have replaced the soap opera phenomenon of the 1980s, with audiences glued to the reversals and treacheries of the Lannisters, Starks and Baratheons just as avidly as those ‘of a certain age’ used to follow the exploits of the Ewings, Barnses and Carringtons. A Game of Thrones is ‘real life’ on steroids with added dragons, and it also manages to encompass big ideas in amongst the action: the clash of armies and the vengeance of individuals play out against an ethical landscape just as detailed as the realistically crenulated coastline of Westeros. The Godless marks the beginning of a new epic fantasy from Australian author Ben Peek, and it’s a remarkable achievement. Because as much as George RR Martin produces the gold standard of this type of story, Peek gives him a run for his money. The world of The Godless is a strange one indeed. The gods were all killed in a war thousands of years before the novel begins. In that unbelievable battle the sun god was torn into three pieces so the landscape is lit by a morning sun, a midday sun and an afternoon sun, and the mountains of Mireea are built on the Spine of Ger, literally crystallised on the bones of a dead god who fell across the land. Of course, many peoples of our own world have such creation myths to explain how the world they observe is the way it is. But in The Godless these are not myths: the bodies of the gods are real. If you tunnel into the mountains of Mireea you will find deep channels that open onto the carcass of Ger. As you can imagine, the war and subsequent death of the gods had a profound effect on those who worshipped them, many of whom were also killed in that titanic struggle. But the power of the gods was not finished. It inhabited certain individuals, giving them fantastically extended lifetimes and strange and different powers. Some of these people thought they could become gods themselves,and instead became tyrants, bringing misery to an already disillusioned populace, but that too is ancient history and those would-be gods eventually stood back and allowed civil society to flourish into a series of nation states, one such being the merchant city of Mireea, perched on the Spine of Ger, and facing the prospect of a protracted siege when the book opens: After the gods had died there had been temples, buildings erected to house the remains, relics and beliefs that were no longer in practice. Bueralan had never before seen one – they were, mostly, ruins now – and he felt a chill, as if a gaze had settled upon him. It enveloped him so fully that he did not know if he could step outside it. ‘Do you feel him?’ The Quor’lo’s voice was barely audible. ‘Yes,’ Zaifyr replied. Bueralan said nothing. ‘We cannot find the remains of his wards,’ it whispered, not concerned with his response. ‘They are the air, the dirt, the fire, the ocean: Ger shattered their chains to him with what strength he had left. We are told that their remains are the anger in our weather, the floods, the droughts, the cyclones, the fires. They are lost to us.’ ‘They are not lost. They are here. They live without him, just fine.’ ‘No!’ The cry was sudden, angry, a denial that snapped Bueralan’s attention away from the submerged building and forced him to take a step back, reaching for the cold dagger strapped to his leg. What started as a surge of the Quor’lo to its feet ended with a shudder. It fell to its knees. ‘You and your kind,’ it whispered. ‘I will not listen to you and your kind.’ And there, its voice stumbling in an inaudible whisper of defiance, it fell still. But as much as The Godless is about the events that shaped this world, it’s also about the characters that inhabit it. One such is Ayae. Training to be a cartographer, her world is changed forever when an incident reveals she is one of the god-touched, with the power to create and control fire. She has to quickly come to terms with being reviled as cursed by the people she counted as friends, and at the same time being prized by the Lady Wagan, ruler of Mireea, as a useful weapon in the upcoming battle for the city. She’s rescued early on by Zaifyr, another god-touched whose own history stretches back thousands of years. Zaifyr has a dark past, made only darker by the fact that only he can see and communicate with the spirits of the dead, who have been left with nowhere to go now the gods have departed. Another of the Lady Wagan’s weapons is the exiled baron Bueralan Le, now Captain of Dark, a mercenary force that specialises in sabotage rather than open warfare. He has a dark history of his own and, with his small group of soldiers, he is tasked with travelling into the wasteland that used to be the kingdom of Leera – a land stripped by its own people in preparation to make war against Mireea – in order to poison all the wells between them and their objective and learn what they can about the enemy. As much as all these characters have a vital role to play in the unfolding narrative, they are also dragged at by their pasts, and the early stages of the novel unfold in digressive fashion as we learn more about how they came to be who they are. In other hands this could have slowed the pace of the novel, but their collected histories are so rich and build so much into the themes of the book, that they add to the import of the action rather than detract from it: ‘You think you can give up what is inside you?’ Fo’s scarred hands dropped to the metal end of the bed. ‘What remains of the gods finds us. In wombs, in childhood, in the summers and winters of our lives. Once it has found us, only death can drive it out. If that two-bit copper healer told you she could do that, she has done nothing but lie to you.’ His long fingers curled, one at a time, over the bed frame. ‘But you have nothing to fear, child. Not from this. Trust me. Trust us. My brothers and sisters and I study the remains of the gods. They lay around us as they lived: on our land, in our oceans, and in our skies, the power that made us originally still there, wishing to create.’ ‘Wishing to create?’ Ayae met Fo’s disease-scarred eyes. ‘What is it that you’re implying? That I have been infected by a god?’ ‘Possession is not infection.’ His smile was faint. ‘I can tell you that on a number of levels, child.’ ‘Then what?’ ‘We are being re-created, reborn. The power in the gods does not wish to die with its host. It is searching for escape, for a new home, and it has found you, just as it found me. With it, you and I are in evolution to take back what was once ours.’ The Godless also plays with a number of ideas through the narrative, central of which is the role of divinity in the life of the individual and society as a whole. Firstly, if the landscape you inhabit is covered with the remains of your gods, the idea of a god is more than simply an ‘article of faith’. The gods are unarguably real for the people of this world. But they are also dead. Imagine the effect on our own religions of such a revelation … Then there are the god-touched. Some try to become gods but fail and that opens up questions about the nature of godhood: What is divinity and can a being who comes from human stock ever truly shed the earthly? Clearly the failure of those early ‘pretenders’ indicates godhood is something other than great power and longevity. But there is a separate group of god-touched, called the Keepers, who have banded together and cloistered themselves away to search for another way to ascend. Not much is known of them but it’s clear their presence will be felt in subsequent volumes. As for poor normal humans, many have abandoned the idea of gods in disillusionment, but in some this creates a dangerous vacuum that can be exploited by those who believe they have a conduit to a new god – or say they do. Religious zealotry is a powerful force — as we see in our own world – and there are always those willing to believe, because without belief, there can be no salvation. Peek handles all these epic fantasy elements with great sensitivity. Everything feels as if it’s working together and I found myself eager to return to the world of The Godless every time I picked up my e-reader. He even manages to pull in the beginnings of an expansive geography for the world. Just as in Westeros, there are lands beyond the city of Mireea: oceans of blood created by the death of another god, kingdoms where the animals speak, cities where the dead hold sway … It seems we’ve witnessed events in only a small corner of this world, and there are many more wonders to explore. Finally, and as with all good epic fantasy, The Godless ends with a revelation that will have repercussions for all the characters and the world they inhabit. The experience of reading this book was so immersive, and so ultimately fulfilling, I can’t wait for the next instalment.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    3.5 Stars “Fifteen thousand years have passed since the War of the Gods and their corpses now lie scattered across the world. When men and women awake with strange powers derived from their bodies, some see it as a gift – others, a curse”. One girl who finds herself in just such a predicament is Ayae, one of the three central characters and we meet her as she is waking up with her emotionally distant lover Illaan in the land of Mireea. He is a soldier who is recovering from recently seeing the b 3.5 Stars “Fifteen thousand years have passed since the War of the Gods and their corpses now lie scattered across the world. When men and women awake with strange powers derived from their bodies, some see it as a gift – others, a curse”. One girl who finds herself in just such a predicament is Ayae, one of the three central characters and we meet her as she is waking up with her emotionally distant lover Illaan in the land of Mireea. He is a soldier who is recovering from recently seeing the burnt and cooked bodies of those he knew, only to wake to, what he thinks is, Ayae’s eyes on fire. ‘It felt as if Illaan were barely in her life lately, a crease in sheets that could be straightened.’ I just loved the imagery in this line and had to share it. She is a young cartographer’s apprentice who has been sent to Mireea, a settlement that is part of the Mountains of Mireaa, near the Spine of Ger, a fallen God, whose corpse now defines the landscape. She herself has been having bad dreams, often about fire, and blames herself for the death of the matron at her orphanage who casually mentioned ‘the room always seems warmer when you are in it’ before being burnt to death in an accident a few days later. So…der… the lady has a thing with fire, and with the blurb telling the clues and as much in the opening, it is hard not to be anticipating her discovery of this untapped well of power. Mireea is under attack from raiders and it is through this we are introduced to Bueralan Le, exiled baron and Captain of ‘Dark’, a group of mercenaries hired to help limit the attacks. He and Dark have just done a very dirty job, one that pushed them and their sense of morality to it’s limits and after losing one of the group they are all searching and desperate for something lighter. It’s hard not to like him as one can almost assume the any exiled nobility has probably been exiled for doing something unfathomably noble but simply not becoming his position, and despite mercenaries of the time authorizing novels and plays to shout out their exploits, he prefers to keep things quiet and contained, being a hero to his men is enough. He is a saboteur and his job is to find out why the army marching on Mireea is in fact doing so. When a living corpse sets fire to the map shop she works in, and brutally throws Ayae into the fire, she is rescued unharmed and unburnt by Zaifyr, a mystic of sorts, and discovers she has inherited latent powers from the blood, breath and bodies of the old dead gods that permeate the environment, and thus finds herself ‘cursed’. She has the power to light stuff on fire, and she herself cannot be burned. Suddenly she is treated like an outcast, abandoned by her former partner and made to feel a stranger in a town that she has called home for a long time. Zaifyr is also ‘cursed’ with the power of immortality and has been alive a very long time and knows more than he is letting on. Seen as a God himself at one stage he has taken on many personas over the years and has a wider world scope than any other character. We also have two delightfully disgusting characters in Bau and Fo who too are ‘cursed’, one a healer, one the disease. One has a healing factor like Wolverine, the other spends his days experimenting on animals in a bid to find out everything about decay and infection. They show us what can go wrong with those that inherit the powers of the Gods in that they start to believe they are Gods themselves and so start to view humanity with a vapid detachment. The Godless moves at a quick pace. The chapters are quite short which, in the beginning, works well to draw the reader into the world, but midway though, becomes more of an interruption. It looks to keep everyone happy by giving us a nice array of characters, who are all quite different from one another but I often felt that just as I was getting into one part of the story we were off and I’m left half way between committing to this next piece of the story or reading to get to the part I was just interested in. When a chapter is only five pages long you know you don’t have to wait long for the next moment to come along but it stopped me hitting a flow and this happens consistently through the book. It is a strange choice and one that I became more at odds with as chapters went from five pages to two pages to single pages as the action heated up. Peek has created an immersive and well thought out world and delivers on a great fantasy tale that has hints of everyone from Gemmell and Feist to Terry Brooks. Readers will enjoy the political intrigue, a wonderful lack of clumsy erotica, a talking bird and much more. I could have used some more action sequences but those in the book are handled very well, in fact it’s such a strength, I am a little surprised it is not utilized more. This is a big lead in to a trilogy that shows huge potential but personally I really hope they chapters are a bit longer and we get time with each character before we are whisked off to the next scene. That time would allow for some more thorough development leading to a more distinct voice for each character which would help the reader immensely in those later sequences. I would not put Peeks on par with the likes of Abercrombie, Lawrence or Sanderson but he certainly has potential and has delivered a fine book. For more reviews, giveaways, special editions offers and information on upcoming releases swing by www.areadngmachine.com

  24. 5 out of 5

    Simon Ellberger

    This is an absolutely brilliant book. It's complex and inventive. The author uses lots of verbal tricks that I really liked. His primary trick is the use of sudden temporal shifts. This gave me a feeling of being outside of time and inside it at the same time, which is analogous to the way Peek describes how time interacts with the gods in his story. This was adroit and clever. He is in effect making the reader a god who views things atemporally like the gods in the novel, which is most ingeniou This is an absolutely brilliant book. It's complex and inventive. The author uses lots of verbal tricks that I really liked. His primary trick is the use of sudden temporal shifts. This gave me a feeling of being outside of time and inside it at the same time, which is analogous to the way Peek describes how time interacts with the gods in his story. This was adroit and clever. He is in effect making the reader a god who views things atemporally like the gods in the novel, which is most ingenious! He is also very generous in his use of gender, race, and ethnicity, casually using diversity in a way that I rarely see in novels. If you read only the dialogue and not the description of the speakers, it would almost always be impossible to tell who is male and who is female. And he manages to put in all shades of characters (skin-wise and morality-wise). Again, I liked this. The three main protagonists — a leader of a group of mercenary saboteurs who is an exiled Baron, a young girl with a nascent and inchoate fiery power who is truly hot, and a god-like former madman who interacts gravely with the dead — provide a different kind of diversity: that of viewpoints. This allows Peek to use another verbal trick: short chapters to rapidly change space and not just time. His writing is very atmospheric, and this enables him to make abrupt transitions in mood that surprise the reader, another of his protean writing tricks. If you're looking for constant action, this is not likely to be your type of book, which is not to say there is no action; there is, but it is well placed. If, however, you are looking for a story that maintains constant interest and which challenges your attention, this book does those things. The writer displays literary maturity and creativity in a way that is often quite dazzling. The book reminds me a bit of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, though less densely populated. This is a god thing. And a good thing. Are there any flaws? Yes — one, or maybe two related ones, though they are of the kind that will not bother most readers, but I feel I must address them in an attempt to be unbiased. The main flaw is the occurrence of errors in the form of typos, incorrect grammar, and occasional missing words. They are not overwhelming in number, more of a smattering, but they occur enough for me to make mention of them. These mistakes are rather surprising given the writing and language skills Peek otherwise displays, and this is what makes these kinds of errors all the more distracting. He writes such beautiful and skillfully wrought passages (Nabokov-like), that I really felt wrenched out of my immersion when one of these errors occurred. They didn't ruin the story, just my sense of complete absorption. Reading, for instance, a sentence like "Zaifyr's hand touch the cold metal mid-sentence and the helmet toppled, landing to his left with a clatter" jolts me (in a bad way) when it comes from a superb writer who most certainly knows enough grammar to recognize that "touch" should be "touched." The sentence itself is nicely timed to interrupt the speech of another character in a manner that should be jolting, but in a good way, and this timing is ruined by its connection to bad grammar (perhaps there was an out-of-touch proofreader involved?). There are other mistakes in tense like "drew" for "draw" and "lead" for "led." Then there are odd typos like "counted" for "countered" and "tombs" for "tomes." And there are errors in which verbs are confused, such as "born" for "borne" and "bought" for "brought." Here's an amusing one where a word is missing: "If you're looking for him at this moment, you'll find down in the public bathroom..." Unless the search is for a duck, there should be a "him" between "find" and "down." The other possible flaw, is that he also uses some strange phrases that I at first thought were also grammatical errors, yet when I did an internet search, I found others using them as well, so I thought maybe they are just Australian idioms (the author lives in Australia), but I'm still not sure which is the case. One example of this "it's either an error or a dialectal usage" was the phrase "the die were cast." This is normally expressed as "the die is cast," since die is singular (the subjunctive mood, which would be a legitimate exception, was not involved in this example). Even if it is an idiom, it still feels wrong to me. Another example was "Zaifyr had seen him only once since he released from his tower, traveling to where the huge man lived in the ruins of his birth, rebuilding it painstakingly like a model." I had never before seen "released" used as an intransitive verb in this fashion (other than in sports to describe moving from one position to another) and thought the relevant phrase should have instead been "since he was released from his tower" or "since he had been released from his tower"; either sounds better as well. But enough of perfectionist rants. Aside from these types of issues, this book is unusually good and should be purchased by any serious reader looking for mature fantasy to read. Or by anybody interested in intelligent literature.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark Webb

    The Godless by Ben Peek is the first in the "Children" trilogy. Peek made big news last year with the sale of this trilogy to Tor UK, a major sale for an Australian author. I've enjoyed Peek's shorter work in the past. Long time readers of the blog might recall my review of Above/Below - a small press publication by Peek and Stephanie Campisi. Given the high profile sale, my interest in Australian speculative fiction generally and my enjoyment of Peek's previous work, I've kept an eye out for the The Godless by Ben Peek is the first in the "Children" trilogy. Peek made big news last year with the sale of this trilogy to Tor UK, a major sale for an Australian author. I've enjoyed Peek's shorter work in the past. Long time readers of the blog might recall my review of Above/Below - a small press publication by Peek and Stephanie Campisi. Given the high profile sale, my interest in Australian speculative fiction generally and my enjoyment of Peek's previous work, I've kept an eye out for the publication of this book. I won't give much of a plot synopsis - there are plenty of other reviews of this book, most of which have a more comprehensive description of the plot. Broadly, this secondary world fantasy is based on the premise that the Gods all killed each other in a divine war thousands of years before. As they slowly pass away, their power is leeching out into the world, and some humans find themselves the unwitting recipient of some fragment of one of the former Gods' powers. These powers have a wide variety of effects, but most of the people who survive the onset of their powers become essentially immortal. Most of the story is set around the city of Mireea, built on a mountain range that has formed over the body of one of the dead Gods. Mireea is under threat of siege from an army formed on religious grounds. There are three main viewpoints for the story, Zaifyr - one of the oldest of the "Gods' Children", an immortal thousands of years old, Ayae - one of the newest of the Gods' Children just coming into her power and Bueralan - a mercenary in charge of a small band  of saboteurs hired to operate in defence of the city. I must admit that this has been one of my most enjoyable, refreshing reads for 2014. I loved the premise, and in general the concepts behind the writing. It could just be me bringing my own biases into the reading, but I took a lot of parallels between Peek's post-Gods world and our own slow move out of the shadow of historical religions. The exploration of what it means for society to stand on its own, without reference to supernatural entities. The taking on of power that has been historically seen as the province of the divine. The need to take responsibility to chart our own path forward. The power of even remnants of religion to inspire terrible deeds in the name of holy mandate. I found Peek's interrogation of these concepts to be quite powerful and thought provoking. If nothing else, the concepts behind this story would have been enough to hook me in. But this is no worthy but dry tome, meant to educate rather than entertain. I found the work utterly engaging, and it was only in reflecting on it later than some of these themes came through (and as I say, I could be ascribing my own biases to the work). The use of language in this work is delightful, the pacing superb. I found the characters to be vividly drawn and compelling in their motivations. In short it was an excellent read. I particularly wanted to highlight Peek's treatment of time. The work seamlessly switches between the past and the present, echoing his description of the nature of the Gods and subtly preparing the reader for some of the reveals later in the work. While the techniques and style are different, I was left with the same feeling I'd had when I first read Catch 22 - the dips into non-linear story telling was enjoyable on many levels. And to do it with such deceptively simple language and style, the ease with which the reader can follow the changes belying the sophistication of the writing needed to achieve that effect. Just brilliant. I also loved Peek's treatment of diversity. The novel is by no means a soap box, but built into the fabric of this world was an embrace of diversity that was refreshing. No "default white" characters here - Peek points out the physical characteristics of all characters as they enter the story. Women and men clearly have an equal presence in society. None of this is done in a preachy way, it is presented as mundane fact, woven into the background of the story. I found the plot to be mature and engaging, with enough turns to maintain my interest. I cared about the characters. I wanted to know what happened next. I read the book over only a few days (unheard of for me these days!) and I'm already hanging out for the next book in the series. A fantastic accomplishment well worth the initial publicity, with additional dollops of pleasingness based around the fact it has come from an Australian author. Highly recommended. I also reviewed this book on my website.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Wultsch

    The Godless is good epic fantasy. There are horses, battles (with swords, among other weapons), seemingly ordinary young people with special powers, mysterious strangers to guide them, quests (at least the beginning of a quest), and magic. The story is told from the point of view of three different characters (which was confusing for the first few chapters until I figured out what was going on). At one point I also questioned if the book was jumping around in time, but it was not, although there The Godless is good epic fantasy. There are horses, battles (with swords, among other weapons), seemingly ordinary young people with special powers, mysterious strangers to guide them, quests (at least the beginning of a quest), and magic. The story is told from the point of view of three different characters (which was confusing for the first few chapters until I figured out what was going on). At one point I also questioned if the book was jumping around in time, but it was not, although there were occasional flashbacks. In this universe, it is fifteen thousand years after the old gods started to die. As they die, their magic seeps out into the world and into people, giving them magical powers. Some are even immortal. Ayae is a mapmaker's apprentice. She discovers that she has a special affinity for heat and fire. Zaifyr, a mysterious stranger, helps her come to terms with her powers. He is also one of the "cursed," those who are born with special powers. The story starts and mostly takes place in the city of Mireea. Mireea is preparing for war. An army from the neighboring country is making its way to attack. They have tried sending messengers to parlay, but to no avail. The third point of view (the first two being Ayae and Zaifyr) is Bueralan, a mercenary, who goes out to investigate and sabotage the coming army. It doesn't go very well for him. I was really happy to see that there were female soldiers (THANK YOU, MR. PEEK!). (OK, some of them were brainwashed into fighting and others were conscripted, but still nice to see.) There may also be female sailors, marines, and even airmen in this universe, but this book only featured an army and the equivalent of an army national guard. Many books seem to include only a token female fighter or two, if any, who are described in masculine terms. Nothing wrong with masculine females, but it is nice to see feminine or neutral females who can kick ass. The book starts out a little slow, but the action picks up around the middle and is very exciting by the end. I can't wait for the next installment in this series to see what happens with these characters. Some books you can walk away from and remember it as an interesting story and others you will remember the interesting story and feel like you really got to know at least some of the characters and care about them. This novel is the later. Usually pronunciation guides and lists of characters in books seem silly to me, but I really could have used a pronunciation guide for this one. Ayae: is it ah-yay, Ay-ya, or Ah-ya-ee? Reila: Ray-la, Ray-ill-ah, Rah-ill-ah, or Rail-ah? Oyia: Oh-yee-ah, Oi-ah, or Oi-ee-ah? I would recommend this book for late middle school age and up. It might be a difficult book for elementary or middle school age child to get through, but an advanced child that loves fantasy might love it. That is not to say it is a children's book; it is a very good adult fantasy that children can also enjoy if they are advanced readers. If they liked Robert Jordan's Eye of the World series, they may like this one. I received this book through the Goodreads Giveaways program. Thank you to the author and/or publisher.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mishele

    If I could give this book 3.5 stars out of 5 I would, but since I can't I'll round up to the nearest whole star (lucky). I'll start with what I liked about this book, the gender inclusive. I've never read a fantasy book quite like this in terms of gender equality and for that I really enjoyed this book. By this I just mean, rather than just say men, Ben constantly said men or women when he was speaking about a generalized group of people. For me this is a great step forward for this type of fant If I could give this book 3.5 stars out of 5 I would, but since I can't I'll round up to the nearest whole star (lucky). I'll start with what I liked about this book, the gender inclusive. I've never read a fantasy book quite like this in terms of gender equality and for that I really enjoyed this book. By this I just mean, rather than just say men, Ben constantly said men or women when he was speaking about a generalized group of people. For me this is a great step forward for this type of fantasy literature. The fact that women play very important roles both as protagonist and antagonist, but also that women can be soldiers, miners and raiders not merely damsels, really sets this particular book apart. What I did not like was almost the whole premise of the story-- The Gods. It's not that I disliked this aspect, I just don't understand and feel that the concept has not been fully developed. (I assume it will be fleshed out further as the series continues). But for book one, I'm still left wondering and confused about the Gods, Immortals, Keepers, Cursed and whatever else the non-normal people are. This becomes a bit of a hindrance when reading because I could not get into the story completely with the aspect being so ambiguous. Ben Peak has created an interesting world in the Children series. I am interested in following the main characters through their journeys. to the end. I am not completely sold on the Gods, but I do find the political conflicts interesting and wish to see how everything plays out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    I received this book through a giveaway (thanks again) and here is my honest review: When I first started reading this book, I thought the prologue was gripping: a good way to start the story. But the next couple of parts were a little difficult for me at first. I couldn't really connect with the characters and the story felt a little slow, with a huge info dump that, I must admit, confused me. I didn't like it. But I continued for its creativity. I absolutely loved the world Ben Peek created, o I received this book through a giveaway (thanks again) and here is my honest review: When I first started reading this book, I thought the prologue was gripping: a good way to start the story. But the next couple of parts were a little difficult for me at first. I couldn't really connect with the characters and the story felt a little slow, with a huge info dump that, I must admit, confused me. I didn't like it. But I continued for its creativity. I absolutely loved the world Ben Peek created, of a world with fallen gods and cursed men and women. And it didn't take long before I got to know the characters, in depth, focusing on three in particular. And then the story became even better, with plots and turns and action-packed fights. I loved it! I spend every single free moment I had going back to it and reading the next part. My opinion? The book was great. I can't even imagine I got stuck at the beginning now! I have to read book two, that's for sure. I can recommend this for anyone that loves a well-worked out world of gods and magic, with more than one pov and a set of strong, independant female characters- which I don't see often in fantasy books like these.

  29. 5 out of 5

    João Eira

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  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    This is another case where there’s some really cool world building, but I really didn’t get into the story/characters. It was interesting enough to follow them right to the end, and I did want to know more about some of the characters — okay, I admit it, particularly Zaifyr/Qian — and what brought them to where they are at the point of the story… but I’m not planning on reading more in the series. For me, characters are the major thing, and sometimes I felt like the narrative didn’t give enough This is another case where there’s some really cool world building, but I really didn’t get into the story/characters. It was interesting enough to follow them right to the end, and I did want to know more about some of the characters — okay, I admit it, particularly Zaifyr/Qian — and what brought them to where they are at the point of the story… but I’m not planning on reading more in the series. For me, characters are the major thing, and sometimes I felt like the narrative didn’t give enough time to their motivations and plans. Sometimes I just did not get what the connections between actions or scenes were; probably partly my fault, but also a feature of Peek’s style. I wouldn’t say that I’d avoid Peek’s work in future, because there was a lot of interesting stuff in the world that he created. It’s just that it didn’t quite cater to my interests in terms of people to root for. That’s not always important for everyone, so if the idea of the dying gods and the power manifesting in individuals and the military campaign all appeal, I’d definitely recommend giving this a go. Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

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