I need to poke around at the review database over on Fantasy News & Book Reviews, because I really have no idea how to feel about this book. I’m not sure the last time a fantasy novel engendered such a feeling of “meh?” in me – usually I either love it, hate it, or like it but have something solid to pick at. I’m curious to see what other folks thought of this book to see if they have any points that will sway my opinion one way or the other.
Pretty much everything about Servant of a Dark God is standard. Standard agrarian society – farms and villages, tradesmen and fairs. Standard cast of characters – young boy and young girl who are obvious love interests, father figures, young savants, bad guys, badder guys, and dubiously bad guys. Standard magical set up – magic that is known, magic that is outlawed and practiced covertly, and latent magical powers.
The author does through in some interesting(ish) twists – the conflict of the young male lead with his father and the investigation of family through the book are something you don’t see as often in this type of novel. Brown’s main character is highly conflicted and behaves exactly how a 16 year old boy should (forget the heroics, bring on the indecision and the angst). He also doesn’t mind being brutal with his characters – he’s happy to beat the crap out of them, kill them off, or otherwise.
Standard tropes or moderately interesting twists aside, I never had a feeling of attachment or emotional investment in any of the characters. I could tell when the author wanted me to be upset or happy, but the connection was never fully forged.
[Reviewer’s Note: at this point I set this review aside and forgot about it, so I’m picking it back up and wrapping it up.]
I dithered for quite a while about whether to put this book back on The Stack for JD, or to just shelve it in the library, and in the end I went for the latter. With as many fantasy novels as there are out there right now, there’s just not a place for “ok” books. That said, if someone came to me and said “Holy crap, John Brown wrote another book and it’s SO GREAT!” I would probably believe them, and pick it up without hesitation.