Fantasy Review: ‘Godblind’ by Anna Stephens

Imagine if you will your favorite surprises or shocking moments from book or film. We don’t learn who Soze really is until the film’s final scene. Vader drops a parenting line at the end of the second outing. And more than one person got hooked on A Game of Thrones when the person being set up as the series protagonist gets the ax.

It actually isn’t easy to pull of because for a surprise to be shocking there has to be some emotional involvement. Some build up is needed and the reader has to have a connection to the characters involved. Without this the ‘surprise’ will land with a thud. And if the entirety of the story is spun off of this particular plot twist…

Frankly I was mostly bored.

Godblind had one surprise in an otherwise completely predictable plot. It is obviously supposed to be the Ned Stark moment that turns everything upside down but it hits too early to have that effect. The readers had no chance to know the characters involved and their treachery only went against first impressions, not any sort of long set feel of their personalities. And it is on this dud that the rest of the plot continues.

This is a story about one land (The Mireces) planning an invasion of another (Riplor). They have some help; a few traitors on the inside and some very blood thirsty gods looking to break through back into reality. The ‘Red Gods’ were very cool, nothing else really stood out. A few armies move around, a lackluster battle or two, and this being the first book of a series, the Red Gods in question quite unsurprisingly break find their way out of exile to rain hell and set up the rest of the series.

The cast has some highlights but their interactions leave a lot to be desired. For example Crys is a grizzled soldier with a lot of promise who early on befriends a prince and is then unwillingly dragged into a traitorous plan. But the reasoning for this unconventional friendship is never made apparent. It seemed like a set up but the payoff never came; in the end it felt like nothing more than forcing two characters together only because they needed to be in the same place.

Worse some very lazy tricks are used to show various characters’ personalities. The aforementioned surprise went completely against the early impression given (as in told rather than shown) of one particular character. But more egregious came from a scene later in the book. I do not need a man’s evil nature to be shown in an inconsequential scene in which he threatens to rape both a mother and a daughter (and assumed to be carried out off page). Without this scene nothing changes, with it a bad character looks a little more evil at the expense of two women.

I will however give credit where it is due. Once Gilda and Lanta are in the same place, respective envoys to warring gods, there is genuine opposites attract chemistry going on. Their hatred and sadistic banter feels exactly right. More of these two would have helped things immensely, they were easily the highlight of the whole book.

I am not sure this is a bad book, but it is an entirely unmemorable one.

3 Stars

Copy for review provided by publisher.

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11 thoughts on “Fantasy Review: ‘Godblind’ by Anna Stephens

  1. Too bad. I think I’ve read at least one gushing review of this book, but I’m more inclined to go by your review. Too many books out there to try a Nathan 3 star book!

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  2. Now this is a good review for me to read.. I have been gagging for Godblind but the points you make about the book sound like exactly the things I would have an issue with as well… damn right you want emotional involvement and connection before the surprise axe to head moment.
    This reminds me of a book in a different genre (can’t remember the title) where it started off with death and wailing and boohoos and I was like- no, just no because I want to know about the character on a deeper level before I’m able to actually feel the emotions they’re feeling… and it sounds mean but it is what it is. Great review!

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  3. *OUCH* & *CRINGE* πŸ˜€
    The synopsis for this book sounded interesting and I was keeping this one on my radar to see how it fared, but predictability and two-dimensional characters are elements I try to avoid like the plague. Thank you for the warning, especially since it was a very witty and enjoyable warning πŸ™‚

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  4. I also thank you for the insightful review and fair look at this book’s flaws. Every novel has them, but so few reviewers will actually mention them. I might still give this one a go at some point, but at least now I will have more reasonable expectations. πŸ™‚

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  5. I sort of skimmed your review, because I am hoping to start this one very soon when I’m done with a couple of my current books. I caught the key words of “unmemorable” and “lazy tricks” though, which is disappointing, but a couple of bloggers I follow also ended up loving this, so I guess it could go either way! I’m crossing my fingers it’ll go better for me, but I’m going to temper my expectations now.

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  6. I like a good twist in a book and your example of Soze was perfect. It was a great moment in the film. Sadly I knew of Ned Stark’s demise long before I watched GoT but it still got the blood flowing watching it. But a disappointing use of the twist is a bummer. It sounds like this book could have been so much more with a bit more care. Pity!

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  7. Bummer. I don’t mind stories that revolve around a major twist, but when that twist isn’t actually all that surprising then colour me uninterested. And I’m definitely not here for lazy writing that furthers a male character’s evilness at the expense of two women.

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  8. I have had this on the radar, but waiting for reviews just like this! Some real insight into potential issues I might encounter because something was telling me that I might skip after a few earlier reviews. Thank you! Also, I cannot agree more about the fact that emotional connection absolutely must be established in order for certain events to have the proper impact. Awesome review πŸ™‚

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  9. Wait What?!?! Main characters die unexpectedly in Game of Thrones?? Thanks for ruining that for me, Nathan.

    Just kidding.

    Seriously, good points about how tricky it is to pull off a good surprise twist. There has to be build up and emotional investment built otherwise…. it’s only a surprise because the author is telling you it is and not out of any organic development. I think I’ll skip this one. Great Review!

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