I know I’ve already talked a bit about first novels and how they usually disappoint but I’ve also said about a couple of the books I’ve reviewed, that they were excellent first novels and did not seem like debuts. Well, I think I need to say it again for Servant of a Dark God. John Brown’s first published book is simply delicious for the reader.
I have decided to include the blurb from now on for the “official” story outline instead of my own premises which I didn’t really like….so here it goes: Young Talen lives in a world where the days of a person’s life can be harvested, bought and stolen. Only the great Divines, who rule every land, and the human soul-eaters, dark ones who steal from man and beast, know the secrets of this power. Now, in Talen’s land, the Divine has gone missing, and soul-eaters are loose among the people. The Clans muster a massive hunt, and Talen finds himself a target. Although his struggle is against both soul-eaters and their hunters, Talen actually has greater problems. A being of awesome power has arisen, a being whose diet consist of the days of men. Her Mothers once ranched human subjects like cattle. She has emerged to take back what is rightfully hers. Trapped in a web of lies and ancient secrets, Talen must struggle to identify his true enemy before she finds the one whom she will transform…. into the very lord of the human harvest.
John Brown’s writing is on par with almost anything I’ve read recently and certainly fits in well with the atmosphere and story of Servant of a Dark God. He creates with Talen a character which seems at first to be our typical hero yet it’s a very misleading beginning as later on Talen becomes opposed to the other heroes of the story before he gets further changes in opinion. From what I had read about this book before, I honestly thought we would be getting more chapters in the point of view of Sugar and go more in depth with her character. Unfortunately, we didn’t but I guess that’s why we have two more books in this trilogy. On the other hand, I was surprised at how many Argoth POV chapters we got since he it didn’t seem as if Brown was setting him up to be a major character in the very beginning, or at least not as important as some of the other characters. One last character note: I loved Legs. He admittedly did not get much development per say, but that boy’s strength and his general attitude during throughout the novel sold that character for me.
The story itself manages to mix what could be potential romance, though it does not get expanded in this book, a good measure of intrigue and of course so well written action. If I hadn’t known that this was the first book in a trilogy I really probably wouldn’t have known until the very last chapters since most of the questions that John Brown asks seem to be answered at least in part at some point during the novel. At the very end though, he suddenly brings in new elements that make us, as readers, go: awww, that’s what the sequels are going to deal with.
As for the world-building, it is very well done as a whole, with a great, yet interestingly limited, magic system and very original yet grounded created races(or nations?) of men. Some aspects of this world seemed to lack a bit of definition for a book that usually is supposed to carefully detail a complex world such as this one. I was left with a bit of doubt about how exactly the hierarchy worked as well as what exactly the area where the story takes place is (is it a Koramite colony given over to Mokad or Koram itself?). I guess these are just be fine points and this is my fanboy/geek side taking over or maybe its saying something about my intelligence level? Who knows…
Anyways, great read for those of you that are avid epic fantasy fans or, as always, those who wish to discover this kind of work and want to start with this book. Trilogies are always great, the almost ideal fantasy telling medium (though I still like my long epic series or my one-novel stories, as rare as those might be) and Servant of a Dark God opens up a new one that promises great things. Once you’ve read this one, follow up with: Curse of a Dark God (2010, Tor Books) and Dark God’s Glory (2011, Tor Books).
My rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
John Brown’s website: http://johndbrown.com/
Buy Servant of a Dark God: