The Godless by Ben Peek

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The Godless by Ben Peek

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The sort of fantasy novel where the world is constructed with the body parts of dead gods. The sort that eases you in and then adheres to your mind. The sort where once is never enough. (Ooh I'm going all film poster!)
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Tor
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1447251248

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These are strange times in Mieera, the land made from the bodies of dead gods. The Leeran army is closing in on a Mieera defended only by a scratch army of citizens and The Dark, a band of mercenary saboteurs led by cynically tough Bueralan. Ayae the cartographer's apprentice has a more personal crisis. She's pulled from a burnt out building alive and totally unscathed. This can only mean one thing: she's one of the cursed. As the effects of this newly endowed immortality hit her she must decide what to do. Zaifyr, the mysterious charmed man, has some ideas but then so do the sinister Keepers which doesn't help much. Meanwhile that army is getting closer…

Australian author Ben Peek lives in Sydney with books, a cat, a photographer and a wicked way with a pen and keyboard. I don't know the chap, but I have a feeling from his blog that he's many things to many people. This, the first book in his The Children series will follows the same trait; for underneath the surface of an enthralling story sit some fascinating layers.

Superficial stuff first. The mix of cynical SAS-like mercenary, innocent newly-powered child and advancing army sounds familiar but originality flows through the mind of a good writer. Ben is a good writer.

Captain Bueralan is more than a sword for hire, he's an exiled Baron. Why? Why did Ayae escape unscathed – what is she for? Who is the cartographer Samuel Orlan and why does he qualify his name with a number? Who controls the non-human assassin Quor'lo?

Why am I asking all these questions? Because this is a story that sandwiches intrigue between the bread and butter of excellent characterisation. All the time we're plumping for these people we're seeking the same answers as they are just as vehemently, if a little less violently. (More on that later.)

As for Zaifyr, the guy with the charms (literally – the little token-type variety) he begins as a total unknown but through some snippets of a past life and a clever literary device (which I won't spoil) we gradually think we're getting to know him. As for the mysterious Keepers, there seems to be a yin/yang thing going on or, as one character puts it the healer and the disease.

It seems very fashionable to compare everyone with Joe Abercrombie at the moment. (Yes, I do it too!) In this case though Ben's action scenes are as knee deep in blood as JA's. (Indeed, let's be clear, The Children trilogy is not for children!) However, there the comparisons end. Anyone who can build a world where geographical features are body parts dispels any notion of being like someone else.

If you want more than thrills, blood, intrigue, excitement and an original world populated with compelling characters from your fantasy, he has that covered. (I could hear that person who shouted 'But what else has Ben Peek done for us?!' by the way.) Ben is known for playing with themes like race and multi-culturalism and an epic fantasy series is an ideal place to further indulge the habit.

Mieera is both multi-cultural and multi-theistic but not always in an accepting way. Differences engender fear rather than brotherhood and the unknown is as much to be avoided as the enemy. (Talking of the enemy, the Leerans turn out to be an interesting bunch too, but no time to unpack that here.)

For me the only thing that prevented that full 5* accolade for Ben's endeavours is that once or twice I felt mildly confused as to where in the time hopping I was and whom I was with. This has left me with a feeling that I need to read it again to fully immerse without having to make review notes. Need to read it again? Scrub that; I want to read it again. There are times when reading a book more than once isn't enough, especially when you're as hooked as I seem to be!

I'd like to thank Tor for providing us with a copy for review.

Further Reading: If this appeals then we're betting you'd like The Grim Company by Luke Scull and/or The Long War series from AJ Smith.

Buy The Godless by Ben Peek at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Godless by Ben Peek at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Godless by Ben Peek at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Godless by Ben Peek at Amazon.com.


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