REVIEW – The Black God’s War (Splendor and Ruin, Book I) by Moses Siregar III

Disclaimer: While Moses and I both contribute to AiSFP, the extent of our conversations have consisted of “Hey, I’ve got a book, would you like to read it?”  “Sure!”  “Great, here it is!”.  I received this as an ARC.

From childhood, the Black God has hounded Lucia.  While her brother, Caio, has been chosen as the savior of their people, Lucia is tortured by the Black God’s visions and attempts to reject him.  Through artifacts and blessings, the two siblings have been granted the powers of the gods and their father, the Rezzian King, believes they will be the key to winning the ongoing war against the nation of Pawleon.  The Pawleons, however, have their own strength in Prince Rao.  Rao is a gifted sage, capable of great feats that can counter what Lucia or Caio have.  However, his plans for the nation conflict with the army’s general.  Looming in the background is the Black God, waiting and watching, for just the right moment.

THE BLACK GOD’S WAR is the debut novel by Moses Siregar, co-host of AiSFP. It’s also my reintroduction into the realm of epic fantasy.  I have for a long time been reading science fiction and it did take me a short while to get back into the swing of things.  Fortunately, the novel (born out of a novella by the same name) sucked me in and made the journey enjoyable and thrilling.

On the surface, BGW might seem like your typical fantasy novel – a war between nations, magic and gods, and so forth – and you would not be incorrect.  But there is also a touch of theological questions about faith.  This is not terribly surprising as Siregar holds a degree in Religion and he effortlessly weaves it into the story without hammering the reader over the head.

The gods of BGW and the character’s relationships to them present an interesting target.  Both Caio and Lucia are granted their powers (and to a similar extent, so is Rao) and while it might be tempting for an author to get in over their heads with such powers readily available, Siregar manages to avoid this.  He keeps the conflict, tension, and drama at a much lower level by focusing on things that matter to us – the relationship between brother and sister, friends and lovers, parents and children.  The might of the gods isn’t a way out but more of a consequence.  Siregar does a wonderful job balancing and crafting this challenge.

The world and characters of BGW are incredibly detailed and fully fleshed out.  It is not a flat or stereotypical fantasy world that is all too common.  Siregar brings it all to a very vibrant life.  There are events that I did not expect that suddenly threw the whole course of the novel in a different direction.  It was fantastic and kept me turning the pages.

One minor trouble I had was the sudden introduction of numerous characters, gods, and places right at the start of the novel.  Within the first few chapters we meet Lucia and Caio, their family, the Ten Gods of their pantheon, places, numerous side characters, etc.  It was, to say the least, somewhat overwhelming but I think this is more of a fault of mine than Siregar’s.  Back when I was more into fantasy, this was rarely a problem.  I could remember all the Heroes of the Lance, their children, back story, weapons, and the name of their gerbils.  I suspect more frequent fantasy readers won’t have a problem with this.

There are a few other quibbles – some wordiness and the occasional minor grammatical confusion (this might be attributed to reading an early ARC) but overall nothing to sink the novel.

One additional note – THE BLACK GOD’S WAR is an independent production.  Siregar did not have the resources of a big publisher but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it.  The cover is beautifully done and unlike many other independent/small publisher books, it looked and felt as if it had been touched by professionals.  So if you’ve avoided independent productions previously because of poor quality, don’t worry.   You won’t have a problem with BGW.

Available in paperback and eBook format for both the Kindle, Nook, and other eReaders, THE BLACK GOD’S WAR is a refreshing, engaging, and brilliant novel.   Grab a copy or throw one onto your eReader and sit down for a great read.

Author’s Site: Moses Siregar

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