Godblind by Anna Stephens
Publication Date: March 8th 2018 (first published June 20th 2017)
Series: The Godblind Trilogy #1
Blurb: The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.
Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbours deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.
Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?
Godblind is an epic, bloody and thoroughly brilliant debut and the first book in the Godblind trilogy.
Godblind is told from multiple perspectives, most notably Dom, Crys and Rillirin, as the followers of the Red Gods endeavour to see Them rule once more and Rilpor awash in rivers of blood. But whilst the Red Gods have their Blessed One the Gods of Light have their Calestar, if only Dom can keep the Dark Lady out of his mind.
“Rilpor will belong to Blood again and, after it has fallen, all the world will know my wrath.”
In some ways this is an incredibly hard book to sum up for the sheer breadth and intricacy of the world Stephens has created. Multiple perspectives can be a bit of a hit or miss for me because there are times when it makes the story feel disjointed but this is certainly not the case here. Stephens doesn’t drop the ball once and every point of view acts to further enrich the story. I’m still gobsmacked at how seamless Godblind is. That said, the sooner someone kills Galtas the better, a bastard of the finest order honestly. I’ll be waiting with popcorn to see his demise.
One of Godblind’s finest points is just how well-paced it is. With series, the first book can often suffer from slowness as the scene is laid and the world is introduced but from the get-go Godblind is so well-paced that the story never falters and I struggled to put it down. It builds and builds to a crescendo of a finale that left me breathless and in agony that book two isn’t out yet.
One of the highlights of Godblind was despite there being misogyny is several of the societies is was refreshingly not gratuitous and the author makes it clear this is not condoned and the women are not having it. One of the failings of books, particularly when it comes to epic fantasy, is the way the women are used as (sexual) props to further the storylines of male characters and despite there being dragons/magic/elves it seems impossible to even consider the idea that women might be more than punching bags for toxic-masculinity-fuelled men. There is a way to show misogyny without it being written as though it’s just a given and Stephens nails it here.
“Not down here, fucker,” he snarled and took off his head. “This is the Fox God’s lair.”
The characters in the book are just phenomenal and out of all of them, Dom, Rillirin and Crys has a place in my heart. I don’t want spoil any plot points but I’m really really hoping everyone is going to be okay. Special mention to Rillirin’s character arc because it was wonderful to watch her grow and come into her own.
Trigger Warnings: being a grimdark fantasy about a country caught in a bloody battle between Gods, Godblind comes with a number of trigger warnings. Warnings for attempted rape, mention of sexual assault of a minor, slavery, graphic torture and sacrifice, graphic depictions of war which include animal injury and death. Look after yourself if these are triggers.
Godblind is a phenomenal debut and if you are looking for a gripping start to an epic fantasy series I highly recommend this.