GODBLIND is a blood-drenched grimdark story of gods and conquest, but also friendship and family and did I also mention the blood, cos there really is a lot of blood. Rillirin is a slave of the Mireces, a people who worship the bloodthirsty Dark Lady, a god who requires seemingly endless amounts of sacrificial murder to bring about her return. But when Rillirin escapes after killing the Mireces king, it sets in motion a chain of events that leads to conflict with the neighbouring kingdom of Rilpor and the vigilantes who patrol its borders to keep their people safe. And to make matters worse, there’s treachery in the highest reaches of the Rilporian nobility and unless Rillirin and those who remain loyal to Rilpor can prevent it, the Dark Lady may walk the mortal plane once more. That all sounds very exciting doesn’t it? Not so much unfortunately. I don’t really know how to go about reviewing this one to be honest, cos my enjoyment of it kind of rose and fell in waves. I didn’t really like the beginning, the story got interesting in the middle, then I got a bit bored again and finally a bit of a messily-executed climax piqued my interest a little bit at the end. I didn’t mean that to sound quite so smutty but there it is haha! But yeah, how to talk about this book? I dunno, let’s just start with how I didn’t really care about any of the characters.
There are too many point of view characters for this book to work the way it was written I think, and most of the chapters were far too short for me to feel like I ever got the chance to connect with any of them on more than a superficial level. We’ve obv got Rillirin, the escaped Mireces slave, who spends the book learning to be free again and learning to take up arms against her former captives. This is after she’s rescued by Dom, the ‘calestar’, a kind of prophet among the border vigilantes known as the Wolves. Dom sees Rillirin in a vision and knows she has an important role to play in the coming conflict. There’s a bunch of other soldier characters like Mace and Tara who offer no unique perspective on anything and are largely forgettable (as are Rillirin and Dom to be honest). The only characters I was interested in were Durdil, the head of the Rilporian king’s guard and Crys, a soldier with a rocky track record who finds himself caught up in a conspiracy against Rilpor and its Gods of Light. Mostly though, a lot of the characters felt underdeveloped. There were a few moments where I felt we might start to get some good character development, but then the chapter just ended and we were done, so it all just ended up feeling a bit rushed. There are some pretty great individual character moments (I’m thinking particularly of the tavern scene where Rillirin and Dom finally begin to bond and also when Gilda knocks the High Priestess flat on her arse) but as a whole I wasn’t at all invested in the overall character arcs. And thinking about it, that’s probs cos most of the characters don’t really have character arcs or character development; Rillirin undergoes some changes but I never quite bought into it and the only other person who can be said to go through any kind of character arc is Crys, but even then I can’t say I cared all that much.
It also took me a while to even be all that interested in anything that was going on. Not for want of action or stuff happening, but I think for me Godblind suffered from some of the same things that made Empires of Dust not all that interesting – an overreliance on blood and violence in place of compelling characters. Now as you know I like a bit of blood and violence as much as the next guy, but if an author doesn’t convince me to care about the people in the middle of it all, it starts to feel gratuitous and actually it starts to get pretty dull pretty quickly The plot got interesting once the coup attempt in Rilpor began and the subterfuge storyline kicked things up a notch, but then it just got bogged down in a lot of battles and fight scenes that didn’t really do anything else except be battles and fight scenes. What I mean by that is I think a good battle or fight scene also has to do double duty, by showing us something about character or developing the world building or setting in an interesting way. Battle scenes that just describe the different ways people manage to stab each other aren’t that compelling to me and that’s all a lot of the final third of the book is. Except for the very final sequence, which managed to get my heart rate going a bit, but only by shoehorning the characters into a situation that made no sense, which ultimately made the whole thing fall a bit flat.
For all that though, Godblind was still readable and reasonably entertaining in that nondescript, humdrum way books sometimes are, but it’s also not really the kind of breezy book you’d want to pick up as a bit of light entertainment. I dunno, it was all just a bit…meh. Just kind of one of those ‘nothing’ books. Didn’t hate it, didn’t like it. It’s just very forgettable.
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