Saturday, November 14, 2009

Servant of a Dark God by John Brown

Servant of a Dark God – by John Brown Like the previous book I reviewed (The Magicians), Servant of a Dark God had many similarities. An awesome book cover, heaps of early fanfare before its release and also being highly recommended by many established authors. One thing is for sure, Servant of a Dark God is a complex detailed epic fantasy read that brings you on a mazy and rollercoaster-esque ride.

Synopsis from Publisher’s Weekly “In Brown's engrossing debut, the first installment of the Dark Gods saga, one of the mysterious Divines, godlike rulers capable of harvesting a person's life force, has vanished. Young Talen's relatively idyllic life is turned upside down when his family is accused of being soul-eaters who worship a twisted god. Pursued by fearful clansmen and a nightmarish earthen monstrosity known only as Hunger, Talen begins to investigate his latent world-changing abilities. Soon he learns of his family's extensive role in the enigmatic Order, whose mission is to break the yoke of the Divines, and the nature of the dark power that hunts them. Brown's narrative takes a few hundred pages to get up to speed, but the latter parts are breakneck-paced and action-packed. Patient readers will be rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy adventure.”

Review: From the synopsis, it would be easy to classify this as another run-of-the-mill epic fantasy novel, that has all the usual elements: coming-of-age protagonist, the Evil in the world that needs to be overcome, etc. Fortunately, John Brown gave enough variation to this familiar Epic Fantasy theme to make it his own. Personally, I appreciated the dark tone that the book was written in. I also almost thrust my hand in victory when I realized that that would be no quest involved. The real value proposition though is the highly detailed and complex world that John Brown as managed to create. A bad habit of mind when I plough through books, is to quickly bring to mind books in similar veins. In John Brown’s case, the epic-ness of the world he created bears similarities to that of the late Robert Jordan. And for fans of intricate magic systems like that of David Farland, I think that Servant of the Dark God will be a book that you would enjoy immensely.

With all the praises I have heaped on this book, it is quite obvious that there are many rough edges to the story. While reading, I found the pacing a problem which made me having to gloss over many sections. Above that, the highly complex and rich world that John created sort of got away from him. I felt confused on numerous occasions and was thankful for the glossary at the back. For fans of stories centered around world building, this just might be your cup of tea. In terms of character development, I felt that John did a decent job. I felt emotional attachment to the characters and loved certain portions of their interactions. In summary, I felt slightly disappointed by John Brown’s execution. The book had so much potential, but it did not really live up to my expectations. That said, the book did just enough to pique my interest and I will definitely be picking up the sequel to give it another shot.


Reviewed by Ben


Cari said...

Nice review. I was actually really surprised at how much I liked "Servant of a Dark God." I loved the way Brown created this other world. I think he did a great job writing it and I can't wait for books 2 and 3. I think a lot of the things that may have been unclear in this book will be cleared up.

John Brown also has a great blog - you should check it out.

benjamin.ywc said...

Thanks Cari! From my review, you'd probably realised that i didn't find it to be a stellar read. However, John did just enough to make me want to read the sequel. The world building was certainly a strength, and i hope that the next book will excite me more =)