Servant of a Dark God by John Brown

This book I thoroughly loved.

John Brown, which I’m fairly sure is his real name, does a masterful job of grabbing your brain and shoving it directly into the heads of each of his characters.

Add to that the fact that he has crafted a masterful story around a beautifully imagined world with great depth of culture and history and religion and it’s almost like it was written just for me.

He even gives us an evil minion point of view that didn’t annoy me (I’m almost always happier not having anything from the point of view of the evil minions). In fact the evil minion has a real and sensible motivation so that when you are in his head you are just as confused and obstructed and frustrated and sympathetic as he is.

That’s right Dan Brown succeeded in writing a book about black and white good versus evil while still making the evil not only sympathetic but also maybe not evil. (It makes sense when you read it.)

What I think I loved about this story is that it is one of morals. It is the morality of the heroes that sets them apart from others and in the end I believe that is how our world works as well. Ethics and morality is the core of what make us human. I think that much of fantasy has forgotten that. Betrayal and assassination and theft can all be justified if the stakes are saving the world. But what if it’s not the whole world at stake but just your family? Would you sacrifice all of your beliefs to save your family? Would you sacrifice one child if it meant saving several of them?

And more importantly, to me, he does it all without ever resorting to portraying (or even talking about) rape, and other despicable crimes. So many writers now seem to think that by adding those sins to the litany of horrors perpetrated by the antagonists – and sometimes the protagonists – of a story make it somehow grittier and raises the stakes. The greater challenge then is to write a gripping narrative that does not resort to that.

John Brown succeeds spectacularly at telling a story that will make you anxious and scared to read more. Because time after time, things just keep changing. Every time I thought things were about to start working out for the characters they would get worse until I was desperate to finish and almost afraid to at the same time.

If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this book. I can’t imagine anyone not feeling the same way – this is the kind of story that everybody should be reading.

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