Click here to return to the main site.

Book Review

Book Cover

Godblind (Hardback)


Author: Anna Stephens
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 918 0 00 821589 7
Publication Date: 15 June 2017

It has been nearly a thousand years since the climatic battles which saw the red gods pushed back behind the veil and their followers restricted to a few mountainous regions. In that time the city of Rilporin has become sophisticate, wealthy and religion has begun to recede in the people’s minds. The west rank forts are still well manned against barbarians, although little more than small raiding parties are engaged in skirmishes and the peoples of Watchton remain as the main bulwark against invasion. For nearly a thousand years the status quo has been maintained, now all will change in fire and blood...

Godblind: The Red Gods are Rising (2017. 485 pages) is the debut fantasy novel from Anna Stephens.

It’s an impressive read, considering that this is her first novel as she has, for the most part, not fallen into the trap of using over worn tropes from the genre. The world she posits is filled with real and understandable characters and even the fantasy elements are handled in a way that they are not reduced to childish parables. One word of warning, this is a book written for a more adult reader, with its descriptions of violence, sex and the use of colourful language.

The story is told from multiple perspectives and this becomes both the book's great strength and one of its only weaknesses. Each chapter is generally quite short, mostly three to four pages long. The trajectory of the story sees disparate characters initially being apart, the story then brings many of them together before finally many of them reach the parting of their ways.

This short chapter, jumping characters, works best in the middle two thirds of the book when the characters have been placed in smaller groups allowing you to see a situation from multiple perspectives. The shortness of the chapters is also a good aid to keeping up the book's pace. Personally I didn’t think it worked so well during the first and last sixth of the story as I felt that I was being dragged out of one dire situation to the next without much time to orientate and I must confess that I got a bit lost in the final battle.

Against this, Stephens has been able to give her characters individual voices and character progression. She has also used the multiple voice motifs to bring some real surprises to the reader. Like most, I was seduced into thinking I had a good grasp of what was going on; after all didn’t I have access to the inner thoughts of all the main players. This in until you realise that these snippet of time seduces you into forming opinions on motivation and character only for Stephens to completely pull the rug away changing everything you thought was going on and abruptly changing the direction of the story.

Ultimately I liked the book a lot and look forward to reading more in the series; it was a novel about people and politics in a fantasy setting rather than a fantasy book which just happen to have people in it.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Kindle edition
iTunes GB
Digital Download