Godblind Hardcover – 1 Jul 2017
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‘Anna Stephens’ debut writes her name in blood on the roster of masters of grimdark alongside the likes of Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie.’ B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
‘Anna Stephens is easily one of the most exciting début fantasy authors of 2017 … If you’re a fan of the likes of Joe Abercrombie or George R. R. Martin, then you’ll be pleased to learn that Anna Stephens has joined this august pantheon of lovingly horrible and deliciously dark writers. Godblind is a triumph of its genre.’ Starburst
‘Has all the signs of being a sensational series’ SFX
‘Godblind sweeps you up and doesn't let you go . . . Intriguing, fast-paced and grimly fiendish, the only question it leaves behind is is WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS NEXT?’ Edward Cox
‘[Godblind] doesn’t just raise the bar, it takes a step to the side and puts up its own bar’ Fantasy Book Critic
‘Godblind is a rollercoaster of blood, guts, betrayal, and a hammer’ Adrian Selby
‘Cracking pace and packed with gods, betrayal and mayhem. Nailed it’ Mark de Jager
About the Author
Anna Stephens works in corporate communications for an international law firm by day and writes by night, normally into the small hours, much to her husband’s dismay. Anna loves all things speculative, from books to film to TV, but if you disagree keep it to yourself as she’s a second Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate.
Godblind is Anna’s first novel.
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Top customer reviews
Godblind is Anna Stephens debut novel. Set in a brutal world this is not a story for the faint hearted and I would start by saying that it definitely will not be a book for all. I have mixed feelings for the book and I confess that my thoughts have been difficult to pin down so this review may ramble.
In terms of the plot. Basically, we have a swathe of people, the Mireces, formally of Rilpor, who have been cast out of the city for their worship of the Red Gods. They live in the mountains and although there is a tentative peace their thoughts of resurrecting their Gods from beyond the Veil is never far from their thoughts and with a blood thirsty Priestess goading them into action and a new ambitious Warlord with plans of making a name for himself the threat of imminent war looms.
Meanwhile, in the City of Rilpor, unrest stirs. Ruled by a King who is slowly descending into madness following the murder of his wife the City is vulnerable. They’ve become complacent and seem to lack knowledge about the real threat that they face.
The catalyst to the story is a young woman, a slave of the Mireces who finally takes drastic action and escapes into the mountains where she is eventually picked up by a ranger patrolling the borders. The Wolves, who take her in have little idea of the danger she really poses.
So, Godblind is a story with multiple POVs. I enjoy stories told in this style although I admit that there are quite a lot here and for a while the short chapters really made it difficult for me to get a grip of them all. I think overall there were possibly 8/9 different characters so I’m not going to elaborate on them all here. Personally, I would have liked to have spent a little time with some of these characters, the main ones in particular, to get a better feel for them before moving on to the next one. I understand that the author was probably going for a fast pace but in a way I felt this led to the characters suffering from a lack of individuality. They all eventually became distinct for me but I felt that this was something I had to really think about and even now I haven’t developed any strong attachments other than to a fairly minor character called Gilda who really pleasantly surprised me.
The world building is also a little light to be honest but I think in a book of this scope with so much action and such a lot of character shifts it’s difficult to really elaborate too much.
In terms of strengths. Anna Stephens can certainly write. This story bolts out of the stalls and pretty much doesn’t come up for breath all through. Her writing is vivid and she has a real talent for painting action scenes and although this first in series may suffer a little bit from over ambition there is a distinct promise of bigger and better things to come.
Criticisms. Well, this is probably where the rambling begins. I enjoyed this but at the same time I definitely felt irritated. There’s a lot of violence contained in this book and whilst that’s something that you expect from this type of story I couldn’t help feeling that the ‘shock’ factor was being strived for a little too hard. I confess that I’m becoming a little exasperated by the constant need to paint books in blood and viscera in order to provoke a reaction from readers. I have an excellent imagination and I don’t need everything placing in front of me and in fact sometimes I would like this to be tempered with something that prevents the story becoming too bleak and full of despair. This is clearly a personal thing but I like a spattering of humour to accompany the spatters of blood and I think that this is missing here. The other problem I had was the nagging question throughout of why anyone would follow the Red Gods in the first place. To do so seems to mean you have no love for life or even desire to remain alive as you constantly face numerous threats, such as being used for war fodder or for the constant, and randomly chosen, blood sacrifices that the Gods (or their priestess) seem to demand.
Now, that probably all sounds overly negative, which isn’t my intention. This is an impressive debut but I hope that as a series this will perhaps draw its claws in a little and offer a few rays of hope. That probably makes me sound like a raging softie and doubtless the more bloodthirsty of you out there will be shaking your heads in disgust but there it is, warts and all.
So, a definite contender for most ‘grimdark’, a fast moving plot, lots of clashing of swords and an author with plenty of promise. But, be warned, this book should come with a health warning and perhaps a cushion to hide behind. I’m away now to think of happy thoughts, whiskers on kittens, and lots of hand clapping whilst whispering ‘I do believe in fairies, I do believe in fairies, I do believe in fairies’.
I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Edelweiss, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
There's violence towards women, it's true, and I know that put some reviewers off but there's violence towards pretty much everyone in this book. Alongside that...there are so many strong female characters in this book. Rillirin in particular goes from being a victim of said violence, to getting more and more courageous, learning how to defend herself...and then you have her as she is at the end of the book. It's a brilliant character development arc and one I enjoyed reading. I was rooting for her every step of the way. There was also Tara, one of my favourite characters of the book. She's a complete badass and doesn't take crap from anyone, the same can be said for Dalli.
Crys was another of my favourite characters. He cracked me up, and I swear he has nine lives. He always manages to just slip out of trouble and scrape on by. I 100% ship him and Ash. His initial struggle with his sexuality was interesting, and I think well handled but I can't really speak to the accuracy of it. Either way, by the end of the book he and Ash had me squealing. A spot of bright amid the blood! I also really loved the banter between he, Tara and Dalli, I'm gonna be needing more of it in the next book! Not to mention I'm going to need to learn what Crys is....because everyone kept mentioning a certain thing about him and it got me so excited but wasn't answered!
There's plenty of other brilliant characters, Durdil and his son Mace, both of who had to finagle their way out of sticky situations. Dom, who has an intriguing gift. I'm intrigued to see what will become of him. There's also plenty of nasty characters that you love to hate. I had no qualms going full Game of Thrones mindset on these characters and hoping they get killed off. Rivil...I was actually hoping to like him but nope. Galtas...the slimiest of slimy snakes. He totally needs to die first, just saying. And then we have Corvus and the Blessed One. I'm not sure which one of them is worse. Corvus is an opportunist and deserves a taste of his own medicine. Maybe the Blessed One will get rid of him. I can dream.
I breezed through this book fairly quickly, possibly thanks to the POV changes. There weren't any super long chapters, so we kept switching characters quite quickly. This was a bit confusing for me in the beginning as I was getting used to the setting and trying to work out who was who and who did what. It took me about 100 pages or more to get in to the book, to reach a point where I was no longer iffy about the book and invested. Once things got going the shorter chapters and constant POV changes pushed the plot forward, and kept you up to date with what was happening where, and brought in new plot threads and characters. I think the POV's where in the double digits when I finished reading.
The POV's would sometimes overlap because they're quite short, so we'd get different character POV's but they'd be in the same location before bouncing off to a different setting. I had a fairly good idea of the world and what it looked like, and how it was laid out. The settings where vivid....the scenes vivid too even when you wished they weren't! I have to say, while it's bloodthirsty, violent and brutal there's also lighter sides to it. There's some romance as I've already mentioned which was a nice surprise, there's some humour, and I personally enjoyed the loyalty and camaraderie amongst one faction/group. It does take a little while before the lines are firmly drawn in battle between good and evil, therefore you can imagine the epic plot twists leading up to that moment. Everything was unsure. You knew which characters where on which side, but there where still some left to be decided and all these plot twists came out of nowhere, brilliantly shocking until you knew who was on which side for sure.
Godblind sets the scene, it's the first in a trilogy, and this is merely act one. There are plenty of plot threads that have just had the seeds planted. This book has introduced us to the characters and the world and as you read the action and pace picks up more and more and then...it ends. To be continued in book two. I'm kind of thinking of this trilogy as one giant book that's been cut in to three and released in separate chunks, if you know what I mean! There's treachery, betrayal and sinister plots to untangle as you read. But there's also unexpected romance, humour and strong bonds between some characters. Godblind is gritty, brutal, and so vivid you wished it wasn't. It's seriously gory and violent, I shuddered more than once when I was reading. The epilogue is quite frankly chilling. I'm so intrigued to see what's going to happen next, and I can confirm that Joe Abercrombie fans will love this!
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