Thursday, October 5, 2023

 Time to Kill?

How About a God?

The Killing God

I’ve been a fan of Stephen Donaldson for forty-five years. (Yes, I’m old) So, as you can imagine, this final book of The Great God’s War series has been on my reading list for some time. And believe me, it was well worth the wait, as the blurb highlights. . .


They are coming.

The kingdoms of Belleger and Amika had been fighting for generations. But then they learned of a terrible threat moving through them to destroy the Last Repository, an immense hidden library. To face this greater enemy, King Bifalt of Belleger and Queen Estie of Amika allied their lands and prepared for war.

They are at the door.

Now the time of preparation is over. Black ships and sorcery test the cannon that defend the Bay of Lights. Treachery and betrayal threaten the kingdoms. The priests of the Great God Rile sow dissent. And Estie rides for the Last Repository, desperate to enlist the help of their Magisters-and to understand the nature of her own magical gift.

They are here.

Bifalt hates sorcery as much as he loves Estie, and the discovery that she could become a Magister shatters him. But he must rally and fight. Belleger and Amika are all that stand between the Great God's forces and his ultimate goal: the destruction of the Last Repository and its treasure of knowledge.


The blurb paints a bleak picture for the people of Belleger and Amika. As well it should. Rile has been planning this war for decades, and during that time, has insidiously inserted his agents throughout the land in preparation for the arrival of his forces.

An apt analogy, as it conveys the vibe of the entire story perfectly. Donaldson is the master of the slow burn, as he so aptly demonstrates throughout the first two books of the series: Seventh Decimate and The War Within. And here, in The Killing God, he continues that vibe, but with a delicious twist.

Relentless, building tension and rolling action. Action that actually maintains its momentum throughout the entire story without becoming exhausting. So, kudos there!

Yes, the great god Rile has arrived, and within a few chapters, we are plunged into a war of attrition where the seemingly endless wave of invaders can afford to waste themselves against King Bifalt’s defenses. A tactic that soon overwhelms everything Bifalt and Estie have fought so long to build.

I absolutely adored this story. As always, Donaldson manages to capture the anguish each of his characters have to face; their fears; their own shortcomings and desperation as they struggle to meet challenges they can’t possibly hope to survive. Yet meet them they do – not always successfully, mind you – in a battle for survival that is as rich, detailed and unconventional as you could imagine. In doing so, Donaldson draws you into the struggles of those characters, so that you end up cheering for them, or, as the case may be, cursing their weaknesses and failure to live up to what’s expected of them. Superb stuff. And therein lies the magic.

This is an epic fantasy, after all. Yet Donaldson works his arts, so that make-believe becomes believable. Credible, even, in a profoundly satisfying way.

If you’ve never read Stephen Donaldson, then make sure you add him to your list. It’ll be a lifelong commitment you’ll never regret.

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