*Lost Gods will be released, Tuesday, July 3rd by Angry Robot!*
Lost Gods by Micah Yongo
Angry Robot, 2018
Paperback. 448 pages.
"In an epic fantasy kingdom inspired by African legends, a young assassin finds himself hunted by the brothers and sisters he has trained alongside since birth."
I have many conflicting thoughts about Lost Gods. A large reason for that is because I was almost constantly wavering between losing interest and wondering if I should stop reading this book and then finding myself once again pulled back into the story and wanting to know what's going to happen next.
Lost Gods has a fascinating premise and an extremely enticing setting--a fantasy inspired by African legends and set in an African-inspired world. I am always looking for new fantasy like this, so I really hoped this would be another winner in that department. But as I mentioned, I'm conflicted. It took me quite a while to get into this book. The first couple chapters were interesting enough, but then things just started to feel over-saturated with information and my mind kept wandering because I wasn't yet invested enough in the characters or plot to understand or even care. On the positive side, Yongo created an extremely intricate and detailed fantasy kingdom that has plenty of intrigue, both political and otherwise. On he negative side, however, was that there was almost too much at times and it was extremely difficult to keep up with all the names and places, and I struggled with knowing what was important to the plot and what was just added to give more depth to the world. The first one-third to one-half of this book is really just slow. If you have the time and patience, then hold on because it does eventually start to pick up, but it is a lot to ask people to stick around and wait for something to happen.
Despite the difficulty with becoming invested with the plot, the premise and details of the plot itself are actually incredibly interesting. Yongo is clearly a clever writer that knows how to include twists that keep the readers guessing while also subtly building up elements that will play into later events in the book. Once things pick up in the book, much of these compelling elements really start to show, and the book flows much better.
The characters, much like the rest of the book, also took some time to grow on me. It's not that they aren't interesting, it's just that there's nothing about them that initially engages me and makes me want to invest my time. However, as with the plot itself, once you get further into the story things start to sort of fall into place and the characters and their personalities really start to come through. Neythan is our main protagonist and he's your typical guy that is training to be part of a certain organization, experiences something completely unexpected, and then struggles to learn to deal with new truths and realizations that are presented to him. He grows in a lot of ways throughout this book, which gave him a lot of depth and made him a compelling character to follow--for the most the part, at least. I enjoyed being a part of the Neythan's journey in this book, even if he was a bit stubborn at times (what protagonist isn't, really?)
My favorite character however, is probably a man named Caleb that Neythan runs into in the first portion of his story. The two end up journeying together for quite a while, and while they journey we get to enjoy Caleb's many sarcastic remarks and his overall incredible personality. Caleb really saved a lot of this story for me because of how much he brought everything together and sort of connected a lot of lines, plus he added so much enjoyment and wisdom to every scene he was in.
There are many more characters featured in this story, and there are also many POV and location switches throughout--perhaps too many. I couldn't ever really keep track of how many different perspectives we visited, nor was there much regularity to which POV was going to be which chapter, so this actually started to irritate me a bit throughout the story. Another issue that I have seen other reviews mention and that I tend to agree with is the frustration of having a great deaf character who is killed of right at the start before we even get to know him, all to advance the main protagonist's plot. I would have liked to have this deaf character in a more prominent role, as I think it could have really added to the story.
Yongo has a detailed, well-written style of writing that, although often filled with a lot of detail and descriptions, is also compelling and able to draw the reader in. The only drawback to his writing style is that it is a bit inconsistent and I felt I wavered too much between enjoying and not enjoying.
Although there were many things that irritated me and drew me out of the story, I have to be honest and say there was also just as much pulling me in and driving me to finish the book. Because of this, I'm torn on how to rate it. I'm giving it somewhere between three-four stars because at the end of the day, I did choose to keep reading this book and I did appreciate the intricate plot that Yongo developed. I would recommend this to fantasy fans that have plenty of patience and are willing to really take some time to become invested in this book.
*I received a copy of Lost Gods courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the book.*