Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: Blood of the Gods by David Mealing

Blood of the Gods by David Mealing
Orbit, 2018
Paperback. 736 pages. 

Soul of the World, the first novel in The Ascension Cycle books, was the first book I ever requested to review from Orbit, and it was also fortunately the start to a truly fantastic fantasy series that I have been thoroughly enjoying. When I say that I am shocked I don't see more people talking about this book, I truly mean it. This is an incredibly detailed, imaginative, and innovative fantasy world with some truly wonderful characters. Blood of the Gods took everything that I loved about the first book and amped it up to a whole new level.

Blood of the Gods picks up right about where Soul of the World left off as everyone deals with the consequences of the previous books' events. The momentous Ascension draws near and everything seems to become much more intense extremely quickly. Mealing has certainly not suffered from dreaded 'sophomore slump,' but has instead seemed to mastered an even firmer grip on his world-building and characters and has expanded everything in compelling ways that only add to the story. This is a series that I find distinct from other fantasy books--it's refreshing in a way that keeps me glued to the page and not feeling like I'm reading the same tired storylines over and over again.

The first and most prominent standout of this book is the magic system- or should I say the magic systems? That's right, there isn't just one unique magic system, there are multiple, and each one is incredibly interesting to explore and see in action. What I really loved was that all of the setup in the first book regarding how the magic systems worked and how the characters were able to use their magic completely paid off because this book allowed us to dive even deeper into not only the magic, but also the world, characters, and politics. There is still plenty of focus on the magic components, but there felt like such a great balance of every aspect that really made this book stand out and really brought everything together.

The world itself is also rather complex and somehow seemed to expand even more in this book, which allows the reader to constantly be exploring something new; there's really no room for boredom here. I have to keep this review slightly vague on the details because it could easily to go into minor spoilers, so all I will say is that this installment introduces us to even more lands and aspects of this world that I didn't even know existed. There are urban settings, military settings, and wilderness settings that provide a really wonderful sense of variety, in addition to an even wider array of cultures and peoples that were so interesting to learn about.

We follow the same three protagonists in this book--Erris d'Arrent, Arak'Jur, and Sarine--in addition to one new main character, Tigai. I really enjoyed getting to spend more time with each of these characters, and I felt that this book allowed us to focus more on the deeper aspects of each one's personality since we are past the introductions of the first book and can really focus on what motivates them and keeps them moving forward in the directions that they choose (or are forced to choose). I felt that each and every character was really well-developed and acted in ways that were consistent to who their character was, which is something that can be a problem sometimes in series.

Erris continues to move up in her military leadership and therefore must learn how to be the best leader she can be and also gain the respect of her subordinates. What makes it harder is that she has to do all of this while also doing her best to regain lost territory and regain some of her magic that has diminished. Arak'Jur is forced to make many life-altering choices at almost all points of this book and must also figure out how to best help his tribe and people while also taking care of those he loves. Sarine continues to discover who exactly she is--and trust me when I say that there are some big discoveries--and also must learn how to best tackle her newfound responsibilities. Lastly, we have Tigai, who sort of gets swept up into things in surprising and also highly entertaining ways. I really loved his new perspective and insight into other areas of this world and the cultures that inhabit it. There was a distinct Asian-inspired vibe to it that I really enjoyed and I think added a lot to the world itself.

Overall, I've given Blood of the Gods four-and-a-half stars. I initially believed that this was a duology, but I have since realized that is indeed a trilogy, which I am thrilled about because that means one more book in this incredible world with these great characters.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

*I received a copy of Blood of the Gods courtesy of Orbit in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*

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