The God King by James West and Giveaway

51Q7naHo13LTitle: The God King
Author: James West
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publication Date: November 11th 2011
Rating: 4 stars
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Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.

Heroes are not born, they are forged in the fires of apocalypse…

In the heavens above, the three moons crash together, streaming fire and death in their wake; below, the seas rage as the roiling face of the world shatters. After Prince Varis Kilvar steals powers to transform himself into a god, chaos reigns from the king’s city of Ammathor to the forbidding walls of the Black Keep. At his heels marches a demonic army torn from the very bowels of the Thousand Hells, and the risen God King uses terror to stake his claim over all lands.

Betrayed and bound to Varis by powers he does not understand, mercenary Kian Valara is forced to masquerade as the world’s savior, while a beautiful Sister of Najihar prepares him for his last battle. Victory against a living god is far from certain, but vengeance? For Kian, when the battle rage falls upon his soul and the sword hilt is hot and alive against his palm, vengeance is never out of reach.

I love epic fantasy. Sword-wielding heroes, century-old prophecies, magicians living in secluded towers, kings waging wars to expand their territory, those are the elements that first got me into reading books. Epic fantasy books were the first kind of books I read for my own enjoyment, and it’s still my favorite genre today. I love a good mystery or a scary thriller just as much as the next person, but nothing makes me feel more in my element than snuggling down on the couch with a good chunkster in typical fantasy style. What I like most about these types of books is the creative element. Because they don’t take place in our every day world, the author has the option to go completely crazy and invent whatever the heck they want and place it into their fantasy world. Dragons, faeries, prophecies, seers, you name it, it can be done. Also, the sheer amount of detail that goes into creating a fantasy world is extraordinary. You actually create an entire world from scratch. A world with its own economic system, its own borders, democracy/monarchy/whatever type of state structure you want, religion, myths, magic and then you make sure everything you say or do in the book follows the rules you set for this particular fantasy world. It actually gives a god-like characteristic to the author, who has now not only become the creator of books, but also the creator of a fantasy world.

Sometimes these fantasy worlds are rich and compelling. Think Game of Thrones or Lord Of The Rings. While The God King isn’t as overwhelming and detailed as Game of Thrones – which would be a remarkable feat on its own – it does compete well with other fantasy books. In fact, I thought the setting, the fantasy world in which the story takes place, was both amusing and entertaining, with just the right amount of detail without wasting too much time on telling background stories that have little or nothing to do with the plot. The key point here is the story, the characters and their adventures, and the fantasy setting just serves as a background for these characters to do what they want to do and for the story to develop. I actually believe this is one of the hardest things when writing a fantasy book – what amount of detail regarding the fantasy world do you mention in your story, when do you mention it and why. James A. West definitely succeeds in this department. He doesn’t overwhelm the reader with information, but instead spills it gradually, making us warm up to the world and setting of The God King with every page we read.

The main characters are strong and compelling. On the one hand you have the male lead, Kian, who isn’t your stereotypical fantasy hero. Kian isn’t a person you would necessarily like the moment you meet him. He’s tough, strong and a man of actions rather than words. Since his current profession is that of a mercenary, you can understand why I didn’t exactly want to be besties with him when I was first introduced to our main character. However, as the story unfolded and Kian poses as a relucant hero, I began to feel more and more sympathies towards the character and halfway through the book I realized that I actually kind of like him. He has charisma, although you wouldn’t notice that at first. There’s also something oddly amusing about the way he interacts with Hazad and Azuri, his companions, which made me like him even more. They all went through rough times, which shaped them as characters and added interesting tidbits to their personalities.

Let’s talk about the female lead, Ellonlef. To my shame I have to admit that I don’t like her name. I know that’s superficial, but I’m not a big fan of her name. However, I’m a big fan of the character. Some fantasy authors have the tendency to make their female characters one of two generic stereotypes. Either they’re meek and helpless and can do absolutely nothing themselves without the hero coming to rescue them, or they’re war-hardened giants who can only talk about how much they want to chop someone’s head in. Ellonlef doesn’t fit in either of those stereotypes. Although Kian saves Ellonlef in the beginning of the book, she turns the tables around by taking the lead and helping him stop the villain of this book, Prince Varis. Ellonlef is charming, witty and intelligent, and thankfully she doesn’t need help every other second.

The storyline itself is intriguing to say the least. Prince Varis, who has a knack for evil, manages to transform himself into a powerful God, causing chaos and turmoil with his demonic army everywhere he goes. As if it’s a joke of fate, Kian finds himself the only person who can stop Varis and meanwhile save the world. I don’t want to give away too much spoilers, but let me tell you that the story certainly delivers. It was a bit different than I expected when I first began reading it, but in a good way. The pacing takes a bit to build up, mainly because the reader still has to get to know the setting, the lore and the characters, but once the pacing picked up, I became entirely engrossed in the story. Sleep? Food? Long forgotten.

The God King is a fascinating, endaring fantasy novel with relatable, intriguing characters and a rich, detailed fantasy setting. Definitely recommend for fans of the fantasy genre. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for any other books James West decides to publish.

This book counts towards the Fantasy Challenge and the Go Indie Challenge.

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Comments

  1. I’m glad to hear that the characters are relatable, which is a nice element in a fantasy story. If I can connect to something “real” it makes it easier to accept the fantasy aspect. Thanks for the review.

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