“On the run from an ancient evil and his army of terrors straight out of myths from around the world, Fi and Zeke aid Peter in his globe-trotting quest to seek out the remaining Firstborn, uncover the enemy’s plans, and gather the Warriors of Old for what may become the final battle in the world’s oldest war. Along the way, Fi and Zeke discover that they, too, have strengths of their own–though they come at a cost neither may wish to bear.”
If you’re even vaguely interested in the world of self-published fantasy novels, Paternus requires no introductions from me. One of the most popular indie urban fantasy/mythology novels, and a darling of r/fantasy, Dyrk Ashton has cemented his popularity with this second entry. Even as a reader who prefers secondary world fantasy, the first book made me sit up and take notice. The second might be one of my favorites of the year. First off, bonus points for doing a recap of the events of the previous book – this has become something of a trend recently and I will never stop adoring the authors who do it. Bloggers everywhere salute you!
Where Paternus: Rise of Gods sometimes felt a little unsure in what it was trying to do, Wrath of Gods feels much more comfortable – in some ways, I’d liken it to a camera zooming out. Where the first entry showed us Fi and Zeke frantically running from danger with little agency, here Ashton has panned back to give us a better view of the bigger picture. And quite a picture it is, with echoes of Stephen King’s The Stand in the clash of two factions, and The Dark Tower‘s collision of worlds and sense of mythos. It’s a riveting combination and I found myself much more drawn in than I did in the previous entry. The conflict between the Deva and the Asura is explored in much more detail and we learn that many of the deities carry multiple identities within different mythologies. As before, there’s a wonderful sense of learning real mythology woven in with the fantasy that led me down the wikipedia rabbit hole several times – if you’re even remotely interested in world religions this is a great read.
Also, you know, look at the cover. There’s a giant fucking snake with arms and swords. I’m not made of stone, that shit’s awesome.
Fi and Zeke continue to act as excellent guides for the audience, asking the right questions and becoming stronger and more assertive within themselves. They are surrounded by a ragtag and lovable group of deities with real camaraderie and emotional ties to one another, who take it upon themselves to act as mentors and guardians. Fi in particular undergoes something of a transformation, learning what she’s really made of – one particularly good sequence involving a run up a mountain had me grinning from ear to ear, and it was a far cry from the passive character we met in the first book. There is huge growth and development throughout for the cast, and as someone who’s a big character gal I found that absolutely fucking delightful.
The worldbuilding I don’t want to go into too heavily here as spoilers abound, but it’s safe to say that I was pleased and surprised by what I found. Urban fantasy tends to be lacking in this respect because we’re usually within the world we all know and are familiar with – Ashton has widened the scope of his story beyond this, however, and it really works. It is at times surprisingly brutal and no character is ever truly safe, and the third person present tense lends it a cinematic feel, almost like stage directions. I mentioned in my review for the first novel that it wasn’t my personal cup of tea but that I felt it to be well written and enjoyable – I have to say, Ashton has won me over. This is a clear improvement over the first novel, it’s inventive as all get out and even as a secondary world epic fantasy reader I enjoyed the hell out of it (it doesn’t hurt that this story is becoming epic in scope, of course). I’d also like to give a shout out to the audiobook performance by Nik Magill, who I think did a pretty admirable job given the demanding nature of the book and sheer amount of accents he had to perform. The huge amount of development Ashton has made as a writer between novels and his ability to build on constructive criticism makes me very excited indeed for the third entry.
Score: 8/10 (5 Stars)
Bingo Squares 2018
- Reviewed on r/Fantasy
- Published 2018
- Features a Mountain Setting
- Fewer than 2500 GR Ratings
- Features a God as a Character