SPFBO Review: Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss

Early on, it’s apparent that this is not Kloss’s first rodeo. The story is fast paced, cleanly written, and introduces the world to us only as it becomes relevant to the plot and characters.

And that world is a dark one.

The Five Provinces have forbidden magic use, with gifted people being hunted down and killed. Rather than simply providing a bleak setting for the story to unfold in, this becomes one of the central conflicts.

Jeric—the second son of a king and known as the Wolf for his ruthless ability to hunt down his prey—has dedicated his life to tracking down and killing an entire race of people he deems a threat to his country. When Jeric’s father falls ill, he’s sent on a mission to retrieve Sable for her remarkable healing powers.

Sable discovered her magical powers when she accidentally caused the death of her younger sister. A decade later, she’s forged a new life for herself in the frigid Wilds as a healer under a false name. When Jeric offers her a staggering sum of money to heal the dying king, she has no choice but to accept.

Sable and Jeric are polar opposites and are only forced together by necessity. They each represent everything the other despises. And yet, over the course of the story, they slowly develop feelings for each other. The romance is a slow burn over the course of the novel and I thought it was well written. Nothing felt rushed and each step was believable.

Note: There are no explicit sex scenes in this book. There are also quite a few implied incidents of sexual violence against women, but nothing that takes place “on screen.”

One thing I love in books is multiple villains. Off the top of my head, there’s at least four in Gods of Men. Each has their own motivations and range from fairly likable to evil beyond any hope of redemption. Maniacal necromancers, creepy sorcerers with tongueless henchmen, demonic monsters, and twisted sadists all have a role to play.

While the central plot following Sable and Jeric is one I’d expect to see in a sword and sorcery novel rather than an epic fantasy, there’s a broader story at play that’s gradually revealed as the book progresses. I never felt like the worldbuilding was dumped all at once and the information that was revealed always left me wanting more.

Overall, this was an excellent read. The sexual violence felt a little gratuitous at times but it was included for a reason rather than tacked on for shock value. The story picks up speed quickly and doesn’t relent until the grand finale of an ending. I’m curious to see what happens next in the story and am looking forward to the sequel.

SPFBO Rating: 8.0

Character (25 points) 22
Worldbuilding (20 points) 13.5
Plot (15 points) 12.5
Pacing (10 points) 9
Prose (5 points) 3.5
Dialogue (5 points) 4
Editing (5 points) 4.5
Presentation (5 points) 4
Personal Enjoyment (10 points) 7.5
Total Score 80.5 (5 stars)

 

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