As many of my regular readers know, I’m going on a book tour this winter with a couple of other Utah writers, Dave Farland (well known for his Runelords series) and John Brown. John’s first novel, Servant of a Dark God officially releases tomorrow.
I’d only met John once before at a Con, but we’d corresponded via e-mail. He’s won awards for his short fiction, and the man really knows and loves the craft of writing. I did a signing with John on Saturday, and was able to score a copy of his book a couple of days early. I sat down Saturday night, expecting to read a chapter or so to check it out, and ended up reading the first third. I finished it Monday morning. And since Monster Hunter Vendetta has been turned in to my publisher, you guys can’t even yell at me for not working!
I spoke with John a bit, and told him I was going to post a review. He said that he would score me a couple of copies to give away as prizes to my readers. So what I’m going to do is this: If you are interested in getting a free copy of SoaDG just post in the comments below. On Friday I’ll randomly pick the winners. All that I want is that you post an honest review on Amazon (or your blog if you’ve got one) when you’re done.
Servant of a Dark God is an epic fantasy. I grew up on epic fantasy, Feist, Eddings, and Brooks shaped my young life. I read LOTR once a year. Then when I was a teenager I wolfed down everything I could find. Even though I don’t write epic fantasy, I still love it. Now that I’m an author, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of famous authors, and I’ll admit that the only one I totally geeked out like a fanboy for was Tracy Hickman.
My issue with most epic fantasies is that they are not that original. Many tend to be tired rehashes of the epic quest, with elves, fight a monster, get the gobbit, save the princess, etc. Luckily over the last few years there have been some great authors really tweaking that formulaic approach and doing stuff differently. I’m glad to say that John falls into this category.
SoaDG takes place in a world where humans are harvested like livestock, not for their meat, but for their souls. The human kingdoms only think that they’re governing themselves, and the overseers ruthlessly hunt down anyone that discovers the truth. The magic system is based on the use of human “Fire” and the secrets governing its use are only supposed to be used by the Divines, (the folks in charge).
When someone other than a Divine uses magic, they are hunted down as evil heretics. The book kicks off with one of the protagonist’s family being accused of using dark magic.
The world building was creative, and the setting was original. Unlike some fantasy that suffers from the Horse = Motorcycle school of writing, John has actually done his research, and the people/culture/backdrop all feels like an authentic world. For the lower class people the book is about, it feels sufficiently gritty, and you can tell John has spent his time on a farm.
This was deeper than a hack and slash adventure, but it was still really fun. It was surprisingly deep when it came to things like family, trust, and truth. That said, I was still engrossed enough to pound through this novel in a couple of sittings. He’s also got one of the better fantasy antagonists I’ve read in quite a while. Hunger isn’t human. He’s the bad guy, but you’re kind of rooting for him at the same time. That’s tough to pull off.
Overall, Servant of a Dark God is a winner. I’m now going to bug him into sending me the manuscript for #2 so I can see what happens next.