(Note: I read The Black God’s War as an ePub provided by the author due to a LibraryThing Member Giveaway. The book is available from Kindle and Smashwords and the author’s website can be found here.)
The Black God’s War is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating epic fantasy books I have read in years.
Mr. Siregar has essentially taken the long route around, making the tropes of world-shaking fantasy feel new again through his fresh vision of world-building and his decidedly non-traditional-Western-European approach.
When one picks up a fantasy novel, there are certain things that you expect. You expect knights, and lords, and castles. You expect princesses and dragons, at least in some form or another. We expect a Western European world which generally has one thing or another in common with the high medieval/Renaissance era which is so familiar to all of us.
Somehow, Mr. Siregar manages to avoid all of that.
My favorite part of this book is not the incredibly strong core story, nor is it the highly believable characters. Those are wonderful things in their own right, of course, and they only serve to make this book better. My favorite part of fantasy is always world-building, and I have never seen a fantasy world like the one constructed for The Black God’s War. It feels fresh, it feels original – and that, my friends, is my favorite part of this book. From the Roman core of the Rezzians to the Indian/Buddhist roots of the Pawleon, Mr. Siregar has chosen an entirely different basis for his fantasy, and it is quite refreshing.
I will not go into plot, so as to avoid spoilers (and besides, the book’s description does a fine job of doing what little summary I could manage anyway) but the characters of Lucia, Caio, their father Vieri and Ilario are all very well drawn; Lucia and Caio especially often seem to leap off the page. Rao, Aayu and Narayani are equally well-done, and Mr. Siregar has done an excellent job adapting stereotypes to make these characters feel like real people, instead of cardboard cutouts.
This is not just one of the best independent books I have ever read; this is one of the finest fantasy novels (period, full stop, etc etc) that I have read in many years. My hat (had I one) goes off to Mr. Siregar for a well-told, well-edited and highly professional independent work that lends credence and credit to independent authors everywhere.
Final Score: 5 out of 5. You must read this book – you will not regret it.