I generally try to avoid reading book descriptions. More often than not, they turn me off from the book rather than attract me to it. Instead, I listen to recommendations and keep an eye out for what people talk about.
Such was the case with this book. I’d heard it was awesome, and that the writing was beautiful and lovely. On top of that, the cover is gorgeous and evocative – especially if you take a closer look and notice the shapes in the smoke – but that was it.
In other words, I didn’t know anything about this book other than that people I trust like it.
After reading this book, I still trust them.
But what’s it about?
A young healer is asked by a young man to come save his father, and then there are complications, such as: evil spirits, dark magic, xenophobia, violence and death, lies, hypothermia, a necromancer, guilt, politics, and last but not least, the stubbornly irrational emotions of two young hearts.
Also, the young healer is secretly a bastard princess.
What I’ll whine about
The main thing that stood out to me as I read was the scale of the world. There was no sense that what was probably a long journey took any significant time. Sure, a lot of things happened along the way, but the world still felt pretty small, and like Sable (the young healer) could be back to where she started in just a few days.
Mind you, the journey as such isn’t a big part of the story, so it’s more of an idle observation than a deal breaker.
What I’ll gush about
Like mentioned above, it’s a great story, and the writing is lovely, but there’s more to this book than that.
The Gods of Men brings up some rather serious themes. There is a lot more darkness hidden in this book than I expected. Very little is actually shown on page, but there’s no doubt about what happens in the shadows behind the words:
Abuse of power. Racism. Sexual abuse (nothing shown on page). The way men use the gods to justify their own evil.
There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in this book, but while there’s darkness, the story doesn’t revel in it. This isn’t grimdark. There’s light too – and hope.
Epic fantasy with a good mix of darkness and light, and with a sweet love story woven into it.