RETRIBUTION CALLS, the second book in my epic fantasy trilogy was reviewed this week by the website DatBeardedBastard.com. Go check it out! He does a beard based review – that’s right, five beards means your book is great. Haha. Go check out the website to understand.
I’ll just share the end of the review with you, so you have to go to his website to see how he got there (careful, has spoilers):
What will I rate this book you ask? Will it be as good as book one? Well since the last book was a Golden Beard Award winner it has some pressure on it for sure. After reading the book I was grading it based on the story, characters, setting, and overall tone. The book delivers on all of them just as the previous volume. I still think the first book was my favorite based on the development of Narcel and was worried that it would not hold up.
I was wrong. We got more development on Narcel and how he became Equitas. We get more on the transformation of Sinoda to Adonis as well, something that was lacking in the first book. I also like the development of Amaris as well. It was nice to see a strong woman for Equitas to be attracted to that is not a psycho hose beast for sure.
In all, I would have to say that this is an excellent book that I could find no faults with (To be fair for the review I did look for them too). If you haven’t read this series yet WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Go read them now. You won’t be disappointed. We got another perfect 5 on the beard scale and the pressure is now on to see if Justin can pull off the Hat Trick! We shall see.
Justin Sloan’s Land of Godsis a fantasy story that combines many of the elements I liked best from the movie 300 with the first half of Full Metal Jacket. It is part ancient Greek adventure, part military basic training story, and part love triangle.
“This is a work of fiction. No people known to the author have become gods or believe themselves to have done so.” – Author’s disclaimer at the front of Land of Gods.
The author tells the story of Narcel, a young Ikarin man who is abducted in front of the woman he loves. He is taken to the homeland of the Mawtu and forced to train to become a warrior in their army. Meanwhile, the heartbroken girl, Kaire finds some solace in the arms of Lokum, Narcel’s devious cousin. Kaire’s inability to forget her love for the missing Narcel fuels Lokum’s growing resentment. His unrest is inflamed further when he discovers his parents are members of a cannibalistic cult. As the darker side of Lokum emerges, his actions serve as the catalyst that ensures war between the Mawtu and Ikarin.
“Who the hell let a fat-body like you into my class?” -Asiter, Mawtu trainer
Justin Sloan does an excellent job using his experience as a United States Marine to describe the training Narcel goes through at the hands of his Mawtu abductors. This is obvious to anyone who has served in the military. The loneliness and hopelessness Narcel feels has been felt by everyone who has ever attended basic training or boot camp. He befriends two other boys, who both later make great sacrifices for their friendship. Initially, all of the conscripts fear and hate their Mawtu trainers. However, as time passes Narcel grows to respect them and eventually somewhat care for them.
One of the underlying themes in Land of Gods is the bond between brother in arms. Narcel experiences this not just with the other conscripts, but also with his Mawtu trainers. As they ride to war against his homeland, Narcel is torn between his loyalty to the blood thirstyMawtu and his revulsion of their actions.
“You have friends like me that are like this lake here, always calm and relaxed, always there for you. Then you have our Mawtu trainers. Like the rivers, they are always raging. And the ocean, well, I can’t think of something as perfect at times and insane at others, except for women.” -Semreh to Narcel
And as if being abducted and conscripted into an army set on destroying your homeland was not enough for young Narcel to deal with, the woman he loves hooks up with his cousin when he disappears. Indeed I can not understand why he pines for her in the first place. From the beginning Kaire plays two sides, leading both Narcel and Lokum on. I had to remind myself that Narcel is young, and for young people, logic and rationale often don’t play a role in matters of the heart. The silver lining for the reader is that this inevitably leads to a confrontation between Narcel and Lokum.
“The next time we meet, we are not cousins. On that day, you die.” -Narcel to Lokum
I rate Land of Gods five stars. It was easily the most captivating book I have read this year. Listening to one of the podcasts that Sloan hosts, he mentioned that Land of Gods was one of the first books he wrote. I did not find this to be a detriment. The writing was easy to read, well paced, and descriptive enough without being entangling. I was quickly sucked in by the story and look forward to reading the next book in the series.
This story was a lovely parable about the nature of death in the life of a young child. Brooke absolutely adores her father and when he goes away on active duty for the military and doesn’t come home, she’s distraught. He promised her that he would come home to finish painting birds and woodland creatures on the mural in her bedroom but now he can never do that.
As you can tell from the synopsis, Brooke turns into a bird when she puts on the necklace she finds from her father following his death and when she doesn’t make it back home by sunrise as the note she finds with it instructs her to do, she cannot turn back into her human form.
While she is stuck in her bird form, she feels an even greater sense of helplessness than she’s been feeling since the death of her father. She finds that making new friends eases her burden, especially when faced by a greater evil hat stands between her and becoming human again to rejoin her family.
She meets Roy, a kind young bird who teaches her how to use her wings and shares with her the loss of his father and Timmy, a mouse with his own sad story who teaches her to think about the feelings of her family as well as her own.
The message in this story comes through loud and clear, that friends and family are important in times of bereavement and that though the pain feels personal and lonely, other people have gone through the same thing too and others may be sharing in your grief.
What I like most about this story is that it doesn’t come across as sad, it is the story of a child on a magical adventure and coming across challenges but coming through the other side. The fairytale quality of the writing takes the edge off the painful topic and feels comfortably familiar.
I would definitely recommend this story for a primary aged child going through a bereavement or even to children in general to help them understand the concept of loss.
Rebecca Greene brought a great energy which would easily keep a child’s attention and lightened the mood of the story. Her character voices were very entertaining and she made Brooke’s grief seem very real, her performance and the production quality of this audiobook were second to none.