I read an ARC of Bid the Gods Arise. When I picked it up, I was kind of “meh”. I don’t really go in for epic fantasy these days. (I’ve been burned too many times by cliche elves with long golden tresses and heroic knights and everything else people can rip off Lord of the Rings or mine from Dungeons and Dragons). All I knew about BTGA was that it had soul-sucking vampires.
It starts with Aric’s dreams and Maurin’s common sense. They live in a temple and are looking at becoming a priest and a prince in an arranged marriage, respectively. Standard fantasy getup.
Roundabout chapter 3, the heroes are kidnapped by an inter-world ship and sold into slavery on a different world. I sat up a little straighter. I hadn’t expected that.
Introduce political scheming involving the illegal slave trade. And people with magic. And a mute faun-girl saved from slavery, whom Maurin falls very hard for. And a female gladiator with a grudge against everything living. And a woman with powers, smarts, and kick-butt fighting skills who trains them all to be a team.
And also that tree. See the gnarly-looking tree on the cover? That’s the size of a mountain, and the home of the Reamar–the soul-eating immortal evil beings who feast on life as their tree devours the planet with its roots. And one of them is calling to Aric through his dreams.
Also, someone in the party is the Dreaded One–the one prophesied to destroy the Reamar. And the Reamar want very much to find and eliminate this person.
There are some Christian elements, but they don’t distract from the story much. Some of the Reamar mythos and the way the world gates work are tied back into a familiar-sounding Creation myth. But there’s only a tiny bit, just enough to make me want to know more. Especially about the world gates and what happens if you go traipsing around the universe (multiverse?).
It’s a great read. The world constantly surprised me, because it wasn’t afraid to throw in airships and technology alongside the standard medieval fare. The characters are well-fleshed out and memorable. (I remembered their names. I never remember character names in fantasy novels.) The ending wraps up the plot threads nicely, but leaves it open for sequels. I await them eagerly!