I very much enjoyed Bid the Gods Arise by Robert Mullin.1 Having read fewer than thirty fantasy novels, I consider myself a n00b to the genre, but I do like the genre and know a good story when I read one. This tale is well-crafted, and clearly the work of an author who knows how to write. It kept me turning the virtual pages (I read it on Kindle), and kept me up later than I should’ve been awake. I finished it much faster than I had expected, because I ended up prioritizing the reading over other parts of my life because I liked the story so much.
I don’t like to reveal spoilers when I write reviews, mostly because I hate being on the receiving end of spoilers, but I’ll say that this book would be a good match for anyone who enjoys well-built worlds (in fact, a well-developed universe), action, strong characters, and vivid description without getting bogged down in pages of details. I perceived echoes of a host of good influences, from C.S. Lewis, to the Old and New Testaments, to Tolkien, to Sanderson — yet the story itself remained fresh and original and did not ever feel like it leaned too heavily on its various inspirations.
Mullin did a good job of balancing multiple points of view. The pace was brisk, which I like (ponderous tales that drag on with nothing really happening drive me nuts). Mullin understands how to write cliffhanger chapters, and includes an appropriate amount of light humor. There were some good moments that evoked powerful emotions. The violence was pretty graphic sometimes, but not overly grotesque, leaving plenty to the imagination. Everything was tastefully handled, with clean language, and it would be suitable for YA readers and adults alike.
While this volume wrapped up this portion of the saga well enough, it also set a huge hook for its own continuation. I eagerly await the sequel from this excellent debut fantasy novelist, and recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy.