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The Gods of Men #1

The Gods of Men

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Top 10 Finalist in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO 2018

Sable hated the gods. She hated what men did in their name.

Magic is forbidden throughout the Five Provinces; those born with it are hunted and killed. Sable doesn’t know her music holds power over souls—not until, at age nine, she plays her flute before the desert court and accidentally stops her baby sister’s heart, killing her. Horrified by what she’s done and fearing for her life, she flees north, out of Provincial jurisdiction and into the frigid land of exiles and thieves, known as The Wilds. There, Sable lives in hiding, burdened by guilt, and survives as a healer. But now, ten years later, someone—or something—is hunting her.

On the run again, Sable’s best chance for survival is Jos, a lethal man from the Five Provinces, who claims to need her skills as a healer to save his dying father, and she needs the large sum of money he’s offered. There’s something about him Sable doesn’t trust, but she doesn’t have many options. A spirit of the dead is hunting her, summoned by a mysterious necromancer, and it’s getting closer.

Sable soon discovers she’s just the start of the necromancer’s plan to take over the Five Provinces, and she’s the only one with the power to stop it. But harnessing her forbidden power means revealing it to the world, and the dangerous Provincial, Jos, she’s beginning to fall for.

Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, and Victoria Schwab will love this dark and epic fantasy adventure.

452 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 26, 2018

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About the author

Barbara Kloss

13 books503 followers
Barbara Kloss loves adventures, and finds them through reading, writing, trekking through the wilderness, and gaming—though she doesn't consider herself a gamer. She just happens to like video games. RPGs, specifically. She’s also a bit of a fitness enthusiast, a classically-trained pianist, and she believes that maintaining balance in life is a good thing (coffee excluded).

Barbara studied biochemistry at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, and worked for years as a clinical laboratory scientist. She was lured there by mental images of colorful bubbling liquids in glass beakers. She was deceived.

She currently lives in northern California, with her gorgeous husband, three babies, and pup. Author of the award-winning Gaia’s Secret Series, and SPFBO4 finalist, The Gods of Men.

Sign up for Barbara's Newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/barbara...

www.barbarakloss.com

contact@barbarakloss.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 397 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
654 reviews39.9k followers
May 27, 2019
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

I’ve been having the most awful reading streak in my favorite genre—adult fantasy—this month, The Gods of Men is a new adult fantasy that might have just saved me from an encroaching fantasy slump.

Thank you, Barbara Kloss, for offering your book to me. If you’ve been following my reading progress for this month of May, you’ll probably notice that I’ve been having one of the worst reading months of my life; only one book I finished—that isn’t a reread—this month was able to earn a 4 stars rating, and this was for a sci-fi novel; all my fantasy read ranged disappointingly between the rating of 1-3 stars. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss recently just won the runner-up spot in this year’s SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) competition that’s held annually by Mark Lawrence. That being said, I didn’t actually expect to read The Gods of Men this soon, not when there’s already a stack of ARC/review requests I haven’t finished yet. However, finishing the prologue immediately made me want to continue reading and I ended up finishing the book within two days.

“I take people as they are,” Tolya had always said. “Not who they’ve been or who they want to be. The pat and future are for the Maker. The present is for us.”


The Gods of Men story revolves around two main characters, Imari (Sable) and Jeric (Jos). Magic is forbidden in the Five Provinces, Sable, horrified by the accidental crime she committed ten years ago is now living in hiding. Someone who knows about her ability hunts her now and Sable’s best chance of survival is another character who needs her help, Jos. This is a story that has faith and prejudice as its main theme. Exacting violence in the name of gods and religion was one of the main core of the storyline and I loved the way the author weaved her tale around the subject. However, the storyline wasn’t actually the strongest part of the book. It was characterizations, pacing, and well-polished prose.

“There always extremes, Sable. Since the beginning, mankind has put his own twist on the Maker’s will, as Ventus did and does still. It’s what men do. We are masters at manipulating truth to suit our desires. But don’t condemn the Maker for the sins of man.”


There might not be something revolutionary within this novel, except for the originality in the magic system, none of this felt new; I imagine if you’ve read a lot of fantasy you’ll find that you’ve read this kind of story before. However, just because there isn’t any groundbreaking concept, it doesn’t mean that you should disregard this book. The Gods of Men tells a familiar tale wonderfully by making sure that superb characterizations stay on tops of everything. This is a very character-driven novel. The prologue was done brilliantly; showing glimpses of story direction, settings, tone, magic system, and well-polished prose.

I’ve said this countless times before, but characterizations have the power to make any kind of story compelling to read. Sable and Jeric’s chemistry was believable and felt realistic. The characterizations and their development—both personality and relationship—was so damn good that I found myself having a hard time to put the book down. Heck, I didn’t have any problem with the romance in this book. Yes, you heard that right. See? I can appreciate romance in fantasy as long that they’re done right, and this is one of that super rare moment where I feel that it was done properly. The two main characters have such different personality and background that their interaction became captivating to read. The protagonists were easy to root for, the villains were easy to hate (in a good way), and the side characters complement the main characters wonderfully.

“There are always two sides, Sable,” the Wolf said lowly. “Don’t dismiss mine simply because it complicates yours.”


I also enjoyed reading Kloss’s prose; her prose felt clean, vivid, and the formatting in the book helped in creating an addictive nature to the pacing. Music is quite integral to the plot, and I loved the way Kloss integrate music the prose. For example, “A beat” was used often in a well-placed location to elaborate moment of silence and tension only by using two simple words. Plus, the action scenes were exciting and the world-building was efficiently told to create vivid imagery without ever

As for what could’ve worked better for me, I’d prefer the magic systems to be utilized and explained more. The prologue shows the magic system—I don’t think I’ve ever read any novels that have music as its magic system—being used brilliantly, but it made an appearance only in the prologue and the last section of the book. Kloss might be leaving more usage of magic for the sequels, and I really hope I’ll read more of them. It was so original and refreshing to read a magic system that revolves around music; I honestly felt like I was playing Final Fantasy and Sable is a bard that’s still learning how to master her craft.

Overall, The Gods of Men provides an utterly entertaining reading experience for both teenagers and adult. For the past four weeks, it seems like I’ve been reading out of obligation rather than my own desire. The Gods of Men changed that, it shifted me back to having the excitement to keep on reading. This was a critical strike that inflicts destruction to the Goliath that is my fantasy slump. The Gods of Men is undoubtedly an indie fantasy gem, and now that I've read it, I have to concur that the runner-up spot in SPFBO #4 is totally well-deserved.

You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
Profile Image for Emma.
970 reviews956 followers
April 15, 2019
All it takes is one song to change Sable’s life… and end her younger sister’s. Hiding in the Wilds, surviving on her healing skills, and causing far too much trouble for someone apparently trying to live quietly, Sable feels the burden of her guilt and the loss of her sister every day. Yet even that precarious life is under threat: she’s being hunted. Her old name and hidden magic is no longer the secret it once was. And there’s more than one enemy coming to claim her. Fighting for her life is going to demand everything she has, including the power that she failed to control once before, a disaster that ended in the death of someone she loved.

Now this is a seriously engaging read. So much so that it even managed to get me through the stress of being stuck in a Kathmandu hospital when I was supposed to be enjoying my holiday. Not an easy task, let me tell you. It makes an immediate impression- easy to read, fast paced, and fun. Saying that, it’s not lightly done. While never losing its vibrancy, the author manages to add an intriguing depth and complexity to both characters and plot. The two main protagonists each have a history that can be called troubling at best, and which combined with their current rather dire circumstances, provide a perfect opportunity for misunderstanding. Their forced companionship and resulting conflict feeds effectively into the larger threads of racism and prejudice that underlie the story. And there’s no attempt to offer easy answers to these darker themes or explain away decisions people have made in the past. The reader is offered enough information to understand, but it’s not framed as a means of justification. People may be a product of their backgrounds, but that does not negate their responsibility for immoral actions. It’s carefully and effectively done. The growth of understanding, compassion, and morality is an essential aspect of the novel, with the situation between between Sable and Jeric a microcosm for the wider world. Their developing relationship mediates the differences tearing apart the societies in which they live... and perhaps offers some hope for the future. If that seems a bit fairy tale, don’t worry. Thankfully, this is not one of those love conquers all stories, if anything their feelings for each other are explored as the burden they very clearly are. The positivity is found in the acknowledgement that some people really can change. But not all. This is where the villainy is to be found, in those determined to perpetuate the worst aspects of the past. And also evil things, never forget the evil things.

A cracking read that’s well worth your time.


Read for SPFBO.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,544 reviews2,931 followers
January 15, 2019
* I read this as it's a finalist for #SPFBO 2018 and I am a judge *

This book was one I hoped would be good judging from the attention paid to the cover, the premise which sounded exactly like my kind of read, and the blog that nominated it who I frequently agree with. All of those factors led me to having high hopes for this story, and thankfully I wasn't disappointed in the slightest, in fact I really enjoyed this and I definitely want to read what happens next!

This is a story of two main characters, we have Sable who is a young woman exiled from her homeland after a mysterious power within her risks the lives of many around her. Sable is a healer by the time we catch up with her story again and she is hiding out in The Wilds, away from those who may wish to hunt her down. She hasn't touched the power that banished her since the day she left and has instead managed to keep a fairly low profile considering that her Scab status marks her out as different. She's apprenticed to the town healer Tolya and she is doing her best to learn all she can. Sable has a lot to discover still about her true potential and I think her decisions and skills in the book showed her to be a realistic and believable character.
The other main character is the Wolf or Jos. He's a Prince and he's also an assassin of Scabs throughout the land. He is known to be a killer and a tracker and he's supposedly dangerous too. However, we meet the 'real' Jos when he is sent to find a healer to help restore his father's health which is deteriorating desperately. Jos is a character who has more to tell than first meets the eye and I enjoyed getting to uncover this.

There is a lot of magic in this story from the Liagé who are a race of powerful beings of the Sol (Sable's race) through to necromancers, ancient beings, and more. We see Shades attacking, evil changelings, and sorcerers too. There is constantly a threat on the horizon to keep things interesting, but there's also a lot to learn about the magic still.

The pacing of this one was thoroughly solid throughout and I found it incredibly easy to get into and to want to keep reading. It kept me up late finishing it, which is always a good sign, and ultimately I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gave it a 4.5*s in the end which is 9/10 for #SPFBO (the same rating I gave my own nomination and tied for the best score I've given so far for #SPFBO 2018). Highly recommended :)
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,227 reviews195 followers
October 1, 2018
I’m a SPFBO addict. I promised myself to read more traditionally published books this year, but I didn’t keep this promise. I find too much fun navigating through unknown spaces of the indie scene.
  
Here’s another worthy pick.

Sable’s music holds power over souls. It can enchant, but also kill. Because of a tragic accident, Sable flees her KIngdom into the frigid land of exiles and thieves, known as The Wilds. She lives in hiding, burdened by guilt, and survives as a healer. 

Soon, she finds herself on the run again. 

The story, told in third-person limited, follows two distinct POVs - Sable and Jeric. Jeric, the second son of a king, spends his life tracking down and killing ‘threats’ to the country. Sable will have to trust him to survive, even though she despises him at the beginning.

With time, things change, and they develop feelings toward each other. Happily, nothing feels rushed or unnatural. Quite the opposite. Sable and Jeric are flawed individuals who struggle to find their place in a world. When they story arcs meet, things start to gel. Slowly but inevitably leading to striking realisations. 

The cast of side characters is nicely mixed and likeable. Good work.

Kloss’s clean prose, brisk pacing and clear structure keep the narrative engrossing from beginning to the end. Her novel never becomes confusing or unconvincing. 

Flaws? Even though both main characters feel distinct and real, I didn’t care much for them. But it’s strictly subjective. The plot was interesting enough to make me finish the book and I appreciate final twists and reveals.

I would say this book deserves more attention. 
Profile Image for Barbara.
Author 13 books503 followers
May 21, 2018
I might be biased...
Profile Image for Juliette.
204 reviews89 followers
October 1, 2021
Nan mais y a rien d’autre à dire que : c’est une masterpiece.

Tous les tropes qu’on aime, amenés de la bonne façon, un tome 1 qui a comprit qu’il y a pas besoin d’être que introductif et qui a des actions qui ne s’arrêtent jamais, une narration que j’ai adoré, des personnages super…

C’est clairement une de mes meilleures lectures de l’année !!!!! Génial !!!
Profile Image for Kristen.
574 reviews111 followers
October 19, 2018
Full review is here on my blog!~

Wow, this book, for starters! I finished up one book and decided that I had a little time left on my lunch break to start this one next and before I knew it I was like 35% into it and it was time to go home. So… I mean thanks for that, but also wooooow keeping my interest so hard has been difficult of late, so bravo to Gods of Men. I slammed this thing in a day and a half.

This is the story of Sable, who is a healer in the brutal snowy Wilds where thieves and other criminals are exiled. She’s originally from the bright and sunny country of Istraa, where she was Imari, the daughter of the ruler. Right up until she accidentally killed her younger sister… and fled right into the Wilds, where nobody would ever look for her, or her flute, whose music can apparently stop the heart of a child if she lets loose with it.

Many years earlier, Corinth, one of the Five Provinces, completely decimated the country of Sol Velor because some of their people could use magic. Not all, but some. But… the leader of those people was decidedly kind of evil. To this day, an elite team of Corinthians headed by the brutal Wolf still hunts down the Sol Velorians (or Scabs, as they are known), whether magical or not, and either kill them or bring them back to be… questioned. Jeric, who is the Wolf on top of being the second son of the King of Corinth, and two of his pack, Braddock and Gerald, are sent by his brother the heir, to the Wilds to find the mysterious Sable. Their father is dying and they’ve exhausted all their local ideas, and she is known to be a healer trained by a man from Istraa noted to be one of the best healers in the world. Too bad that Corinth and Istraa don’t particularly like one another.

He poses as Jos, a man who is from the Five Provinces, but is definitely not from Corinth (who are known to hate Scabs and Scablickers, a slur given to people from Istraa as they succored the Sol Velorians in their time of need). He tries to convince her with a giant pile of money, but when that doesn’t work, he’s trying to figure out what will, when a whole bunch of evil stuff shows up and starts hunting her down. So she flees with Jos into the brutal Wilds, chased by shades and evil sorcerers, and other things that go bump in the night.

This one was so well written and edited right out the gate that like I said, I read a huuuuge chunk of it in one sitting, and then another huge chunk of it in the next sitting. It was an incredibly hard book to put down to do normal day to day activities like making dinner and actually sleeping at some point. I highlighted many, many quotes in this one, as generally happens with books I am really enjoying. It was never boring, and I always wanted to make time to read it.

I really liked Sable as a character, and I rooted for her right from the first page. She’s accidentally powerful and doesn’t want to be, and so flees from those she loves and learns to protect and camouflage herself by living in pretty much the last place one would look for her. She learns to live in a climate that’s nearly anathema to what she is used to. I was at first not so sure what I thought about Jeric/Jos and a romance between them, because, well… he is who he is and his skillset is largely in killing people… but I got there. I wasn’t expecting to get there but oh, I got there. I can see why some eyes got googly and some hearts thumped in each other’s general direction. The last 1/4 of this book gave me all kinds of the feels. My eyes got legitimately misty.

It’s got antagonists that you need to see get their comeuppance (one in particular comes to mind, and he’s not even the evil necromancer, heh). It’s got protagonists that you root for, and just enough romance to give Kristen the Kissy Book Lover something to squee over while not being super graphic about it. However, I will say that to those who find sexual violence uncomfortable in books, this one does imply a lot of it. Nothing graphic here either thankfully, but plenty of instances of these things happening behind the scenes. It didn’t bother me overmuch in the grand scheme of things, though I also felt as though there was really more than enough example to make that antagonist an antagonist without pointing out how rapey he is (it’s a lot) in nearly every scene in which he is present.

Someone tagged this book as YA on Goodreads, and the me that has no idea what in all the hells makes a novel YA is like… uh… well maybe, I guess? Teenage me would have totally loved this book too. But if we were determining what constitutes YA by what teenage me read, then The Babysitter’s Club would be YA… but so would The Stand and Interview with the Vampire, so yeah… we should not do that thing. This one is possibly acceptable for a younger audience, depending on that younger audience. No graphic sexual content or swearing. Alludes to rape quite a lot, and…. well all that murder, more murder, gore, necromancy, muuuuurder, stabstabstabbing, and the genocide/enslavement of an entire race of people and so on… but hey… no swearing or sex, so… uh, I’m sure it’s fine? :D

So… yeah, this one was definitely a win for me. I really enjoyed this one and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m going to be all over the next book in this series. Ermagherd.
Profile Image for Muffinsandbooks.
959 reviews636 followers
December 14, 2020
Original, bien construit, vraiment prenant, j'ai passé un super moment avec cette lecture !
Profile Image for Mark.
483 reviews81 followers
December 15, 2018
An excellent 4 star read, a new classic of a 1st book in a hopefully great series to come. Highly recommended to all fantasy fans.

Can see why it scored high in SOFBO 2018.
Profile Image for David Zampa.
86 reviews44 followers
June 7, 2019
I like it. It's a good, enjoyable fantasy tale, and the author is clearly talented. It's not perfect. There are numerous little gaffes and typos which I found to be forgivable, but also very avoidable, with the right editor. It's traditional fantasy with a dark side, really strong prose, excellent, creative world building, and likable characters. I enjoyed that the female MC, Sable, was clever. That sounds horrible to say, but female characters I read are often either trying too hard to be clever, or just flat and serious the whole book. Sable is a bit of a smartass, but it's not overdone and it stays consistently true to her personality.

Jeric, the male love interest, complements her well. He’s competent, likable, and often finds himself refreshingly in need of saving by Sable. The sexual tension between them could be cut with a knife, but it never overpowered the story with romance as some books do to their detriment.

In addition to the little glitches I mentioned above, there are two things I would say editorially that would improve this book. First, the magic system should be better defined at some point. The ending felt anticlimactic because I didn't really understand how the magic worked. It just felt like this moment of "aaaand she used her power to beat the bad guys, that's great". It wasn’t enough to ruin my experience of the book, but it was a missed opportunity that could have elevated the experience.

Second, for the first 25%-30%, the plot feels terribly stagnant. The pace plodded, nothing moving forward as everything focused on character development. Fortunately it recovered by around 30% and kept moving thereafter, but I felt that first quarter of the book is in desperate need of cutting to make it flow better.

Overall, however, this is a very enjoyable read as it is, and one that with a bit more editing could be truly fantastic. None of these things I've complained about really hurt my enjoyment of the book once the final page was done, they just made it a bit harder to get there. I’m happily planning to read The Temple of Sand when it comes out.
Profile Image for Avokdo.
68 reviews11 followers
March 29, 2021
4,5⭐️

ELLE EST OÙ LA SUITE ?????

Super livre, avec une intrigue politique très bien menée, des personnages attachants ayant toujours une petite réplique sarcastique/ironique en stock sans que cela soit trop lourd
Univers riche et dense (j’avoue avoir été un peu perdue au début) qui m’a littéralement fait voyager.
Le point de vue omniscient est un vrai plus et ne m’a pas perdue. Au contraire, j’étais avide de connaître ce monde et suivre plusieurs persos était génial (même s’il est vrai qu’on reste très concentré sur les 2 protagonistes !!)

Bref super lecture, j’attend le tome 2 avec IMPATIENCE
Profile Image for kartik narayanan.
725 reviews201 followers
April 20, 2019
The Gods of Men is an excellent fantasy read. To be honest, I never really expected this book to be so much fun (it did have Young Adult as a genre).

The story is pretty straightforward - princess exiled for magic, old threats coming back, yada yada yada (hence the reference to tropes). But then Barbara Kloss's writing and pacing elevate it beyond the average fantasy fare. This book managed to keep my attention on it throughout since there is something or the other happening all the time. The main characters are just interesting enough with some character development.
Profile Image for Adam.
361 reviews155 followers
April 10, 2019
Tightly written and solidly entertaining

My final SPFBO book, and it ended on a high note. I'm ready for the sequel! Full review to come.
Profile Image for Axelle • letiroiralecture.
125 reviews20 followers
May 2, 2022
ASKSBQBJW ❤️
Je ne suis qu’amour pour ce livre !

Je n’ai (à mon plus grand désarroi) pas la suite sous la main, sinon j’aurais enchaîner direct.
C’est un roman hyper qualitatif tant par l’univers et ses personnages que par la plume de Barbara Kloss.
Elle nous embarque en eaux troubles avec une telle facilité : j’ai adoré ce melting-pot de cultures (à tendance scandinave), la dynamique du récit (tantôt dans l’action, tantôt dans les intrigues politiques), la dualité dont sont emprunt Sable et Jeric.

J’espère que la suite suivra le même chemin 🤩
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,124 reviews245 followers
March 30, 2020
"There are always two sides, Sable," the Wolf said slowly."Don't dismiss mine simply because it complicated yours."
This was a good, quick fantasy read. Nothing too complicated and really easy to jump into. I liked the different types of magic showcased, and necromancy is always a plus, but it was a little hard for me to grasp the worldbuiling in the beginning. I could understand all the pieces individually, but it was kinda hard for me to see how everything related together. This book had an excellent cast of supporting characters - the main characters are fine - nothing unique, but not bad. But I really enjoyed a lot of the side characters. There was a lot of genuine friendship, care, and support there which I appreciated. My biggest negative is related to characters unfortunately. There was a lot of unnecessarily aggressive guys. There mentions of assaults and we see some fade-to-black scenes and I just didn't like it. It was too much, in my opinion. Luckily, that didn't bring the book down completely and I'm very intrigues to see what's going to happen next in the story.
Profile Image for Raven_Blake (dreamy addictions).
751 reviews225 followers
July 31, 2018
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars!
Same Review Also Posted On My Blog:Dreamy Addictions




Okay, why aren't people raving about this book? It was f**king good. I mean, really really good. I never read anything by Barbara Kloss so I don't know what to expect from this book, but damn it totally blew my mind away. I absolutely devoured it. It was an amazing read and I didn't know it was actually a YA novel because this book has the mature vibe that you usually find in adult high fantasy books. I loved every aspect in this book. It is a dark fantasy which has some dark themes suitable for mature YA readers. I loved the plot, the world building, the characters, the magical system, and the forbidden romance. This book has everything I've ever wanted in a fantasy novel and and it's definitely going into my favorites list. I'm glad it wasn't a stand-alone novel because I want more of this world. And Kudos to the artist who designed that stunning cover cause it totally fits the story.

SUMMARY:

In the five provinces, people who're born with a supernatural power Shah are called Liagé. A century ago Azir Mubarék, leader of the Liagé nearly destroyed their world because of his greed for more power. All the five provinces united against him to defeat him. Since then, magic is forbidden everywhere and the remaining Liagé are hunted down and killed because they don't want another Azir to rise again.  Somewhere in Istraa, a nine year old  girl doesn't know her music holds the power to the souls, and when she accidentally kills her little sister during a court performance, she flees from her homeland Istraa and ends up in Skanden, a land filled with thieves, exiles, and criminals. Ten years later, nineteen Year old Sable works as a healer in the village, and at night she does thievery to help scabs. When a stranger named Jos comes at her doorstep asking for her help to save his dying father, Sable is reluctant to go with him even though he offered a huge sum of money. When Sable is hunted down once again by an unknown entity, she finally agrees to go with Jos. Sable believes that he genuinely needs her help, but she also knows that he's hiding something so she can't completely trust him. During their journey, Sable discovers that she's the key to the necromancer's plan in taking over the world. In order to fight against him, she needs to embrace her forbidden power which means revealing it to the world and also to the powerful provincial Jos who hates Liagé. 

CHARACTERS:

I loved the main characters in this book! They felt very realistic and relatable. You know what makes a dark fantasy novel even more irresistible? it's the flawed characters. Sable and Prince Jeric aka Jos were pretty complex and flawed. Sable is sweet, caring, stubborn, smart, and selfless person. Her helpful nature is one of her best characteristics. She might seem strong on the outside, but inside she has lots of vulnerabilities. I really enjoyed her character development. Prince Jeric is quite an intriguing character. He's not your typical charming prince. He's a broken soul with a horrifying background. For his kingdom, he killed many people including innocents and you don't want to know the count, you'll be horrified.  Honestly, You won't like him at the beginning, but eventually he'll warm up to you. The forbidden romance between Sable and Jeric was very well done without overshadowing the story. The romance developed slowly, and thank god there isn't a insta-love between them.

This book has some interesting side characters like Tallyn, Rasmin, Ventus, and Prince Hagan. Tallyn is a nice addition to the plot and I really enjoyed his character. I don't want to say much about him because I don't want to spoil anything for you guys. Rasmin is a mysterious character. He's the head inquisitor of Prince Hagan, but we don't know whose side he's playing. Ventus and his guards called Silents brought dark and creepy atmosphere to the story. Prince Hagan is quite a loathsome guy. Unlike his younger brother Jeric, he doesn't have a great reputation. He likes being in authority but he's not as smart as Jeric, and he enjoys raping scab slave girls who works in the mines. He's the absolute worst and I hated him. 

PLOT/WRITING/WORLD BUILDING:

The plot was fantastic and well executed. I was hooked to the story from the start to the end. It's a fast paced read filled with right amount of action, adventure, magic, and light romance. The story was so engaging that I just finished it in just two sittings. There's never a dull moment. The twists in the plot has kept my attention throughout. I loved the beautiful writing style of the author. She described everything in detail with her lyrical writing. The book was told in Sable and Jeric's third person pov. The world building and the magical system was fantastic. They're the best aspects of this book. If I could rate them, I would give them a perfect 5 stars. The author build an epic fantasy world filled dark magic, monsters, and adventure. I really can't wait to explore more of this fascinating world.  

FINAL VERDICT:

Overall, It was a fantastic read and I absolutely loved it! My only complaint with this book was how Sable easily forgave Jeric at the end after going through that hell. Otherwise, I would've given this a full five star. Nevertheless, It was an amazing start to a new series and I can't wait to know what the author has in store for us in the next book.
Profile Image for Para (wanderer).
350 reviews191 followers
July 11, 2019
DNF 30%.

I picked up this book on sale after it got declared as a SPFBO finalist. Since the reviews were stellar and the concept "magic is forbidden but the MC is a mage" seemed good I was pretty sure I'll like it.

Ultimately, I couldn't get past the fact that one of the characters is one of the main supporters of genocide of a whole race of people, killing or dragging them off to be interrogated - men, women, children, everyone. The Sol Velorians, or Scabs as they're called, are commonly enslaved, brutally interrogated, or slaughtered because their mages destroyed a large part of the land...and Jeric is one of the main perpetuators of this.

Twenty-six Scabs.

It was the largest group Jeric had scouted yet. It still amazed him how many Scabs existed from a war that’d happened nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. He tried his best to hunt them, kill them, enslave them. They couldn’t be allowed freedom, not after what their people had done. Not after what their survivors did still. A supposed religion of peace, and their sorcery had nearly annihilated the continent. If one ever forgot how dangerous power of that magnitude could be, a quick glance at the Forgotten Wastes proved an effective reminder. An entire land… destroyed, at the hands of their Liagé. Their so-called blessed for the sorcery they wielded. Sorcery wasn’t a rutting blessing. It was a curse upon the land, and Jeric refused to let that peaceful culture thrive on his watch.

A protagonist who kills an entire race of people indiscriminately is not one I can cheer for, no matter what their mages did. I don't care. It disturbs the shit out of me. And for such a heavy topic, it doesn't seem to be dealt with...gravitas? He isn't treated like a villain, more of an antihero. Or perhaps it improves, it's obvious there is another side to the story, but either way. NOPE. Sable, the other protagonist is a mage - not Sol Velorian as far as I know, and her country of origin isn't mage-friendly either - and judging from other reviews, they eventually develop a romance as well.

There's also a lot of almost-rape scenes. As I said, grimdark.

The writing aside from that is not bad. Nothing flashy, but solid and readable. There's a whole lot of fantasy terminology dropped on the reader in the first few chapters, which was the first thing that bothered me, but that alone wouldn't have bad if everything else was fine. Sable is a good character too. But I simply couldn't get past my visceral reaction to Jeric and what he does. Every person has a line when it comes to what they are willing to tolerate in a MC and genocide is a step too far for me.

No split enjoyment/execution ratings because the low enjoyment score is obvious and I didn't get far enough to be able to judge the execution.

More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.
Profile Image for Rusty.
178 reviews10 followers
February 18, 2019
In my experience the best books are the ones that draw the reader into the story. While there, the reader gets to know the characters intimately and begins to fall in love with some, despise others, and find reflections of themselves scattered throughout. All the things the characters say and do make sense to the reader, and they help to complement the plot as it takes the reader along a path that leads to a (hopefully) satisfying conclusion. And then, the best books send a little something with the reader long after the final page. For some, it is a cliffhanger that the reader waits expectantly to see the resolution. In other cases, the characters or story inspire further contemplation and reflection because of the themes or life lessons found there. Perhaps the reader will be moved by beauty whether it is well crafted prose, descriptive world building, or a story of redemption. To say it another way, the best books are hard to forget.

I have only just finished The God of Men, but I think that this will be one of those books for me. I likely will remember the gentle ways that Sable was encouraged throughout the book by specific characters and an unknown voice in order to shape her into who she was destined to be. I will reflect on the ways that Jos wrestled with the life he had led and the actions that he previously had justified. I will consider how prejudices and biases are often based on one side of the story. And I will mourn how much evil has been done under the guise of morality and religion. For each of these, I will hopefully walk away a better person.

This was not a perfect book for me, but some of the more troublesome bits might in the big picture be necessary to nudge me in the right direction. The most noticeable example was the derisive term that was used throughout this book where a people group was called “Scablicker”. This term must have been used dozens of times, and it was initially very jarring, especially on the audio version. I actually found myself being a little less bothered by the term by the end. Perhaps this was a microcosm of how we can easily become desensitized to what should be offensive.

I realize that this is not a traditional review, but is more a reflection of how the book moved me. I can easily see why this book deserved to be nominated as a finalist in this year’s SPFBO contest, and I wish the author the best with that. (In honesty, I have now read three finalists, and they all were very well done. I am glad I am not required to pick the best.)

I am also very grateful for the author for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is highly recommended! 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Typhanie.
144 reviews2 followers
January 9, 2022
Jamais, Jamais je naurai cru avoir un tel coup de coeur pour ce roman.
La hype me faisait peur, et pourtant, j'en reste sans voix.
Lunivers, les perso, l'intrigue... AHHH
Heureusement que j'ai déjà le tome 2
Imari, sable, tu es incroyable.
Profile Image for Books_and_Crafts.
251 reviews852 followers
January 28, 2023
This was an incredible start to a COMPLETED trilogy! Finally, something complete I can binge! Thank you again mandy for the flawless recs as always! This is a must read for fantasy romance lovers.
Profile Image for Thesongofwicked.
359 reviews54 followers
November 1, 2021
je confirme que la vf - traduire - c’est vraiment plus pour moi.

mais cette pépite c’est incroyable, le world building est oufissime ! les plots politiques on adore ici, les enemies to lovers on signe, j’ai tout aimé ! mais il me manquait un tout petit truc pour le coup de coeur !
Profile Image for ~Dani~ .
312 reviews53 followers
December 10, 2018
Read this review and more at Book Geeks Uncompromised!

Another world where magic is seen as evil is a world we don’t want to live in. But when you get a well-written plot and characters like you do here, I think we can make an exception.

100 years ago, some magic users known as Liage from the nation of Sol Vallerren attacked, making an attempt to take over the other kingdoms and nearly destroyed the world in the process. Sol Vallerrens and their leader Azir, being the only people able to use magic, were defeated and Azir killed. Due to his immense power, his soul remained which was then locked away, never to been seen again. The Sol Vallerrens left were enslaved and anyone with magic killed on site.

A hundred years later, nine-year old Sable is the daughter of a Noble in Istraa. One day, while playing her flute for a large gathering at her home, she discovered that she has magical abilities that caused everyone to fall asleep. Unfortunately, this spell stopped the heart if her younger sister, killing her. Sable is sent away to hide her from being persecuted for her magic. Our story truly begins ten years later, when a man named Jos shows up to Sable’s hut. They start a journey to heal his father and avoid the forces that seek Sable and her power.

The setting of the Five Provinces is one that feels like a lot of love and care went into making it. There are well defined political feelings between the provinces. This one obviously isn’t a fan of that one and everyone rags on The Wilds (kind of outsiders area where people go who want to get away from the provinces).

Sable is a well-written character that at times leans heavy on the strong female lead trope. The “I am so strong that I don’t need some man to help me” complex. While this is better than the damsel-in-distress trope, the trope can get old when a situation could be easily solved by asking for help, but you won’t because you won’t accept help from a male character simply because he is a male. Sable does not do this often but that attitude comes across from her many times. The rest of her character development is done so well. She does not trust easily and many times is ready to bolt from Jos thinking it will be easier. The revelation that letting someone know who you are does not always lead to being hurt by them.

While on her own, just listing off her character traits, she sounds like a heroine in fifty other fantasy stories, the difference is that her character relationship with those around her (for better or for worse) are well developed and always feel full. Her relationships with other characters feel just as developed as her character itself.

Jos has probably the most interesting and intriguing arc of this book. In his past, he has killed over twelve hundred Sol Vallerrens. Some were from fighting in his home of Corinth, but some were innocent people whose only crime was being Sol Valeron. Throughout their journey, Jos begins reflecting on his past and the wrongs he has committed. While searching for his redemption, this brings up a great question, should he be forgiven? It is difficult to say when you get to see his regret and nightmares he has over his past.

The Gods of Men has a fantastic plot with pacing that keeps you engaged during the whole ride. The possible uprising in Corinth, the past of both our main characters and evil that for some reason just won’t stay dead.

Yet another book amazing self-pub book that I have read solely because of Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO competition. The characters all jumped off the page, the pacing was perfect. I can see this book going far in the competition and would not be surprised if it won.
Profile Image for Sasha .
292 reviews286 followers
December 31, 2021
Yes, I will continue with the series!

Basically it i a world where Magic is forbidden in all Five Provinces and apparently something very serious happening with our main character, Sable, ten years ago that puts her into immense stress very single day, because she has to hide the fact that she has some kind of ability! But someone is hunting her so she needs to hide!

I think that the best part of the book was the characterization! Because when you think about it yes the idea of this world is quite unique but this book will fall under regular YA trope if I may say. But the pacing and the characters kept me captivated and I just wanted to see where the book was going...

Also, to be honest yes you same some romance in this book but I actually did not mind it that much. So that is also telling something!

This is the second book I read with Music involved in the magic and I really enjoyed that part because I don't think you see it that often (or at least decently done).

I was engaged and had a great time reading that book...
Profile Image for The Nerd Book Review.
153 reviews70 followers
November 25, 2018
Alright. I’m gonna start this review off by saying that the book is very well written and has an entertaining storyline. It starts incredibly fast and I loved the first 20% or so. The first 2 chapters are as good of a start as any book I’ve read in a long time. I also hope that the author will do an interview with me. I’m hoping to get all 10 SPFBO finalists on the podcast with me this year.
The reason I didn’t love the book had to do with 2 things. 1 was that I just didn’t like one of the MC’s. Jeric aka The Wolf is a murderous kind of guy who kills men, women, and children as the book begins and as the story continues on his image begins a rehabilitation and he will become the love interest of the POV character who gets the most page time Imari, aka Sable. Sable is a great character who has a forbidden magical ability and has been forced to flee her homeland.
The 2nd issue I had is admittedly kind of a weird one. I felt like there was an odd lack of people at times. The best way I can describe it is to describe it like many of the computer animated kids movies my son likes to watch. There are plenty of MC’s but there aren’t a lot of background characters. I often felt like the entire population of a country was in the low thousands, not hundreds of thousands or millions even. The Wolf is 2nd in line to the throne and is so intimidating to the other Provinces(which are kingdoms) that they don’t attack but as far as I could tell his entire Wolf Pack has like 6-10 members. He is an incredible fighter but he has no magical ability so if the other kingdoms sent a force of even a few hundred he should be able to be overwhelmed. I admit this is a weird thing but it was just something that I kept thinking of. If it was just small tribal villages I would understand the small numbers but it seemed like built up kingdoms with infrastructure. I have that history degree and one I don’t mention a lot is I’m a certified social studies teacher and had to take my fair share of cultural geography classes so I’ve always been a stickler on numbers vs infrastructure so most people won’t care one wit about this.
One last detail. I’m guessing that the author is not a drinker because she has a character disinfect a wound at least once, maybe twice. Unless the term ale is really being used for all alcohol and it is hard alcohol that’s a fast way to cause a nasty infection since ale is brewed using yeast and has too low of an alcohol content to kill bacteria.
Profile Image for Stella.
89 reviews14 followers
November 5, 2022
c'était tellement bien rythmé. les personnes m'ont brisés le cœur, puis recollés. je les aimes tellement fort, ils méritent le monde. une superbe histoire avec une super morale <3

Profile Image for Travis.
163 reviews58 followers
October 2, 2018
Early on, it’s apparent that this is not Kloss’s first rodeo. The story is fast paced, cleanly written, and introduces the world to us only as it becomes relevant to the plot and characters.

And that world is a dark one.

The Five Provinces have forbidden magic use, with gifted people being hunted down and killed. Rather than simply providing a bleak setting for the story to unfold in, this becomes one of the central conflicts.

Jeric—the second son of a king and known as the Wolf for his ruthless ability to hunt down his prey—has dedicated his life to tracking down and killing an entire race of people he deems a threat to his country. When Jeric’s father falls ill, he’s sent on a mission to retrieve Sable for her remarkable healing powers.

Sable discovered her magical powers when she accidentally caused the death of her younger sister. A decade later, she’s forged a new life for herself in the frigid Wilds as a healer under a false name. When Jeric offers her a staggering sum of money to heal the dying king, she has no choice but to accept.

Sable and Jeric are polar opposites and are only forced together by necessity. They each represent everything the other despises. And yet, over the course of the story, they slowly develop feelings for each other. The romance is a slow burn over the course of the novel and I thought it was well written. Nothing felt rushed and each step was believable.

Note: There are no explicit sex scenes in this book. There are also quite a few implied incidents of sexual violence against women, but nothing that takes place “on screen.”

One thing I love in books is multiple villains. Off the top of my head, there’s at least four in Gods of Men. Each has their own motivations and range from fairly likable to evil beyond any hope of redemption. Maniacal necromancers, creepy sorcerers with tongueless henchmen, demonic monsters, and twisted sadists all have a role to play.

While the central plot following Sable and Jeric is one I’d expect to see in a sword and sorcery novel rather than an epic fantasy, there’s a broader story at play that’s gradually revealed as the book progresses. I never felt like the worldbuilding was dumped all at once and the information that was revealed always left me wanting more.

Overall, this was an excellent read. The sexual violence felt a little gratuitous at times but it was included for a reason rather than tacked on for shock value. The story picks up speed quickly and doesn’t relent until the grand finale of an ending. I’m curious to see what happens next in the story and am looking forward to the sequel.
Profile Image for Hana.
436 reviews13 followers
September 23, 2020
23/09/2020: 4.5 stars. My full, updated review can be found here!

TW: racism; slavery; references to sexual assualt

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Barbara Kloss is honestly one of the most underrated authors I've ever read; this book was everything an epic fantasy should be and deserves to be so much more mainstream! I was hooked from start to finish; I devoured all 452 pages in under 24 hours, and now I'm waiting on tenterhooks for the sequel...

This book follows the POVs of two characters: Sable - a nineteen-year-old healer who lives in a lawless region of the world run and ruled by outlaws, and is mistrusted by the villagers for the colour of her skin - and Jeric - second son of a king, who spends his life tracking down and killing supposed 'threats' to his country. Both characters are beautifully fleshed-out and realistic - they have flaws just like anyone, and complex and dark pasts. Jeric in particular is incredibly conflicted in his morals and beliefs, and I loved reading both perspectives! Both narrative voices are really well-distinguished from each other, and I really felt connected to both of them. They treat each other exactly how people in their situations would, and the romance (of course there's a romance) is a lovely slow burn - some instalust, but not instalove at all.

The cast of side characters, too, is wonderful to read, and there's such a mix of caring, suspicious, and mysterious personalities and motivations.

The worldbuilding is phenomenal. It's an incredibly complex world (with a gorgeous map), full of history, magic and politics, but I felt totally immersed in it and understood everything. The racial tensions between the peoples, and the enmity between the kingdoms, were beautifully depicted, and a fantastic allegory to today's fraught world.

I'm incredibly excited to see where the sequel takes us, and I cannot wait to dive back into this world and these characters!
Profile Image for T.O. Munro.
Author 6 books75 followers
June 8, 2019
This book was one of the finalists in the Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog Off #4 and I read and reviewed it for the Fantasy Hive as one of the participating Blogs.

This review was first published on their website on 9th May 2019

At the 8% mark of The Gods of Men, I made a note on my kindle: “a bit of a slow start, might yet boik.” I’m not sure what my past-self meant by boik – some combination of my kindle’s atrocious predictive text algorithm and tired late night fingers conspiring in a twitch of covfefe-like incomprehensibility – but my best guess is that I was trying to say “might yet pick up.” Certainly that fits with my overall impression of The Gods of Men. The varied strands in Kloss’s story took a while to knit into their proper pattern around the central threads of the book’s two protagonists: Prince Jeric, the fearsome warrior prince, and Imari, the sorceress princess in exile.

In the book’s early stages, there are portions that felt exposition-heavy – backstory delivered in a rush either through narrative or dialogue. Looking back now I can see the significant plot points that were being signposted there, but they didn’t at that time – or in that way – get much traction in my memory. And therein lies the rub of world building (and indeed secondary school teaching). Telling the student/reader feels like an economical use of time, but is inherently inefficient in embedding understanding.

However, my initial reservations faded as the story did indeed “pick up” (boik?) and gather its own rolling momentum, and I enjoyed being swept along by the stormy rapids of the tale.

The engine of the story lies in the interaction between Jeric and Imari, though both spend most of the book under the aliases Jos and Sable – a point that underlies how, for different reasons, neither is able to be entirely honest with the other. That Damoclean sword of mutual deceit hangs over them from the outset as the reader waits to see how or when their respective truths might be revealed.

Jeric – the second son under orders from his more cunning but less martial older brother – is sent on a quest to a foreign land to retrieve a healer for their sick father. Sable – the healer – has her own reasons to run, and not necessarily in the direction that Jeric wishes.

There are plenty of nice worldbuilding touches. Silents and shades make suitably fearsome monsters. I would assume there is an author’s love of music bleeding through into a magic system that is triggered by the playing of a flute. Kloss delivers a pleasing hierarchy of villains, characters you love to hate, beginning with a simple butcher and rising as far as royalty and beyond – some of them being far too good a villain to die easily, if at all!

There is also a geopolitical context to Jeric and Imari’s world. A beaten people, previously exploiters of forbidden practice in magic, now enslaved by the victors in a persecution that resonates with our own world history. Indeed, in the prejudices of attitude and language that threaten to fracture her world, Kloss holds up a mirror to sadly too much of our contemporary society.

There are times where, in word choice or turn of phrase, the writing felt a little clunky – for example, “It looked like Bjorn’s fist was about to gloat all over the place.” But on the whole, the writing is smooth, and there are many more lines that I marked because they raised a smile or a nod.

A description of a council of arselickers:

“Jeric never understood how Hagan could bear having so many heads up his rear.”
A sad corpse:

“Anaton studied a little gray hand, still pudgy with childhood, and his stomach turned over.”
An unintentionally sharp observation:

“She’d meant it as a joke, but she was so tired, it came out honest.”

A pointed retort:

“There are always two sides, Sable. Don’t dismiss mine simply because it complicates yours.”

I warmed to the book and its characters. The central pair dance around each other’s secrets and desires, all in the eye of the growing storm of the wider plot: the legion of escaped slaves that is haunting Jeric’s homeland and the past that is flying to catch up with Imari. The plot twists pleasingly and ever more sharply as it builds to its climax. I was surprised by several “dun dun dun” moments as a number of my own assumptions proved wrong, and even where I had guessed right the moment of revelation still left me a little damp-eyed.

While there are a few points where the threads of Kloss’s tale could have been pulled a little tighter, or the language a little sharper, this is a well-told tale with a pair of central characters who grow and change through battles to save themselves, each other, and their wider world.
Profile Image for Leabvr.
77 reviews4 followers
January 5, 2022
Ce livre traînait depuis quelques temps déjà dans ma PAL. Grâce à un challenge et une LC je me suis enfin lancée et je suis très heureuse de l’avoir fait.
Au début je l’avoue j’ai découvert un univers avec tellement de nouveaux noms, de nouveaux pouvoirs et autres que j’étais totalement perdue. Puis à un moment les choses s’accélèrent et au final la compréhension des noms n’est plus très nécessaire pour suivre les aventures de nos protagonistes. Je me suis juste laissée porter par l’action à vraiment réagir derrière mon livre quand les perso ne faisaient pas ce que j’attendais et grrrrr hahaha j’ai vécu les moments à fond. Je me suis posée des questions j’ai anticipé des actions mais y’avait tjs un petit truc en plus que je n’attendais pas qui a fait qu’accroître ma motivation à le lire. De plus, la relation entre les perso… crush ultime je les aime d’amour. Au point que j’enchaîne direct avec le T2 !
Commencer 2022 avec ce roman, cette année s’annonce sous les meilleurs auspices.
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