Even myths have legends. And not all legends are myth.
The gods of myth, monsters of legend, heroes and villains of lore.
They’re real -- and they’re coming back to finish a war that’s been waged since the dawn of time.
Fi Patterson and Zeke Prisco’s daily routine of caring for the elderly at a local hospital is shattered when a catatonic patient named Peter unwittingly thrusts them into a conflict between ageless beings beyond reckoning. A war of which he is the primary target, and perhaps the cause.
In order to survive, Fi and Zeke must forget everything they know about the world and come to grips with the unimaginable reality of the Firstborn. Only then can they hope to learn the secrets locked in Peter’s mind, help stave off an ancient evil that’s been known by many names and feared by all, and discover truths about themselves perhaps best left hidden.
Paternus is Dyrk Ashton’s debut novel, and the first book in the Paternus Trilogy.
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Mythic Fiction.
Market: Adult to New Adult (as opposed to Teen or YA, though savvy 16 or 17 year olds might survive without permanent damage).
Dyrk Ashton was born in Athens (Ohio, not Greece), on a chilly Halloween morning. He whiled away his adolescent years and teens in cornfields, woods, rivers, ditches and haymows, climbing trees, running along barn beams, riding, wrestling, soccering, fighting BB gun wars, reading Stuart Little, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, everything Verne, London, Kipling, White, Lewis, Doyle, Burroughs, Poe, Howard, Fleming, Lovecraft, Tolkien, Zelazny, and generally ignoring school -- though he somehow managed excellent grades (except in Algebra, of course).
Dyrk earned a BFA and masters degree in filmmaking at The Ohio State University, which lead to working in film production in Columbus, OH, where he crawled his way up from production assistant to grip then production manager and producer for commercials, industrial films and low budget features. He then headed west to Los Angeles where he wrote and pitched scripts but fed and clothed himself as a "jack-of-all-trades”: editor, assistant editor, location sound recordist, cinematographer, assistant director, production manager, producer, you name it.
Mostly, however, he made his living as a SAG/AFTRA actor, appearing in nothing you have ever seen. And if you have seen it, he was probably in it so briefly you missed him. It can be done, acting professionally, even if you have no talent but are good at auditioning and have a look that very few actors and no regular folks can pull off. He didn’t earn a lot of money and whatever he did make is long gone (L.A. is expensive), but he did get to travel quite a bit, including an eight week stint in Kandy, Sri Lanka (and it was awesome).
After nearly six years of scraping by in L.A., he realized he probably wouldn’t, in all actuality, die if he never got to make a big Hollywood film, so he moved back to the Midwest and went to Bowling Green State University for a PhD in Film Studies. He wrote a dissertation on The Lord of the Rings movies. And they gave him a diploma. Shocking. Then he got hired as a professor. Even more shocking. Apparently PhDs are tossed out like parade candy these days and just about anyone is allowed to warp the minds of our precious youth.
After four years in a tenure track position he began teaching entirely online, and found he actually had time to read books again -- fiction, sci-fi, fantasy -- not just academic journals and textbooks. Then he realized he actually had time to write. And so he did, bringing to bear his lifelong fascination with mythology and storytelling and gathering together (some clearly ridiculous) ideas he’d had for years.
The result is Paternus, the first in a trilogy of contemporary mythic fantasy adventures for grown ups. Writing novels is something he’d always wanted to do but never had the time, gumption, or the maturity, more likely, to actually do. He’s found he loves the writing process, actually needs it, and will continue to write even if nobody buys the stuff. Still, he’s been heard to paraphrase the immortal line of Billy Mack (played by the ever fantastic Bill Nighy), from Love Actually: “If you believe in Father Christmas, children, like your Uncle Dyrky does, buy my festering turd of a novel.”
And yes, Dyrk Ashton is his real name. He’s been told many times it sounds like the screen name of a Soap actor or porn star. Cool. Truth is, his father is of (mixed) English decent, and his mother (mixed) Scottish, (a Campbell, no less, though her father always emphasized that they were highland Campbells, not lowland. The highland Scots fought against the English, the lowlands sided with them, you see). Anyway, Dyrk’s mom liked the way the name looked when spelled with a “y” instead of the more common “i”. So there.
After a shameful delay I have finally read this book sent to me by the author with its fancy new cover all the way from the US of A!
Indeed he could have saved the postage and handed it over when he came to Bristol.
Anyway, to the book!
Out of the 300 fantasy books that entered my self-published fantasy book contest #SPFBO Paternus came 3rd. That's top 1%!!
Dyrk breaks a lot of writing rules in Paternus. Well, not rules, but he rides roughshod over the advice given to writers learning their trade.
He writes in the present tense. He head hops so that sometimes on one page you will see things from three different character's eyes and hear three sets of thoughts.
He info dumps, regularly, in large quantity.
The net result was however eminently readable. Which goes to show that if you have the knack for writing and a good story then you can pretty much get away with anything.
Paternus is set in the modern world and everything is "normal" except that super-beings walk among us, not all of them friendly.
It is the establishment of this large and varied pantheon of super creatures and the simultaneous plumbing in of them into pretty much every mythology you've ever heard of (and many you may not know) that requires so much info be imparted. Also, Dyrk likes to describe things! He does it very well but there is no denying that there is a lot of description, and in addition to all the varied settings you will have a very good image of what all these crazy demi-gods of varying power look like.
At one point we get (and I guess/exaggerate considerably but not wildly) five pages of history and insight into a super-being who is then killed almost immediately. I kinda have to applaud that. And it isn't all wasted because a lot of that info is useful world building.
The thing is that if you do a thing that normally annoys me well enough then it ceases to annoy me.
There is a ton of imagination at work in Paternus, and although the story seems to move quite slowly at first in this fairly long book, the imagination/wonder of it was enough to keep me happy and sure that it would all pay off in time.
Things do heat up and we get a whole bunch of fights where vampires and werewolves are the cannon fodder in battles between gods, angels, devils, crocodile monsters, buffalo demons and all sorts. Things explode!
Saving this from being a slug fest of super powered but hard to care about monsters is the fact that Dyrk does a great job of giving them their own personalities and ambitions, AND throws two regular people into the mix. The main 'normal', Fi, is built up very well and shows the author can exercise a light touch when not dealing with fifty thousand year old eleven foot tall bear-men.
The head hopping is something I would normally complain about but it really didn't bother me. We spend long enough with each character in general to grow close to them so that the hopping doesn't make them seem too distant to connect with.
I really enjoyed the book and it left me wanting more (like book 2!).
It won't work for everyone but if you want a bunch of fun and enjoy mythology then it's the book for you.
I've now read the top three books of SPFBO 2016 and they have all been very good reads.
Check out the SPFBO contest results here, there are other great titles clamoring for your attention.
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Urban fantasy and mythology fans, this is a book you don't want to miss.
Urban fantasy is not my favorite genre but I am a huge mythology fans. Countless speculative fictions in all kind of mediums--even when they're highly original--most likely were influenced by something else; when you really think about it, claiming that mythologies from around the world are the origin of all kind of stories is really not an overstatement.
Paternus: Rise of Gods, the first book in The Paternus Trilogy by Dyrk Ashton, is what happens when an author implements a plethora of mythologies from around the world to and adds them into an urban fantasy, creating a highly original and compelling experience for fantasy readers.
“A wielder of words is a wielder of power.”
Other than the fast paced second half and intriguing plot developments, the mythology aspect is without a doubt the strongest driving force of the book; I seriously can't praise Ashton enough when it comes this factor of the book. Judging from the content and prose, it's really evident that he has done tons of research to bestow the reader with an intricate mythological background in a fun and thrilling way.
I'm talking about mythologies from around the world: Chinese, Japanese, Roman, Celtic, Norse, you name it. You know what? To tease you further, I'm going to list a FEW of the figures that appeared here: Baphomet, Minotaur, Gungnir, Tengu, Ao Guang, Asura, Lamia, and of course, the staples ofurban fantasy, werewolves and vampires (real vampires, not those glittering one). Yes, these are a FEW of the mythological references I'm talking about. If you love mythology and legends in your stories, Paternus is a must read!
What stopped me from giving this book a full five-star rating is that the first part of this book is a bunch of hit-or-miss scenes for me. In one part, I loved all the mythological world-building in this section, but the characters and the stories felt like the start to a poorly cliched YA Urban fantasy. I'm talking about the super-duper-perfect male main character that the quirky girl can't help but fall in love with for no reason other than he's so perfect at everything; and it's stated repeatedly, too. Plus, the writing during the first part also felt a bit off and was hard for me to get into, especially with the non-stop changing of POV that could happen with each paragraph, instead of each chapter, as fantasy fans have come to accept and even expect. However, this applied only to the first part of the book; once the book reached part two--around 35 or 40% of the book--Paternus has found its own voice and became one heck of an exhilarating action-packed read.
Paternus: Rise of Gods won third place in last year's SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off) that's held by Mark Lawrence. It came third out of three hundred books and it's for a solid reason. If it wasn't for the weak beginning, I could see this book ranking higher or even winning the whole competition. Overall, this is a stunning debut. If you're a fan of Urban fantasy or mythology in your stories, let me repeat it once again, you MUST give this book a try. It goes without saying that I am already looking forward to how the series will develop from here.
You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
I received a review copy of Paternus in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Dyrk Ashton and Paternus Books Media for the opportunity. Like many, I found out about Ashton and Paternus by following 2016's Self Published Fantasy Blog Off where this book was awarded third place by the panel of recognised and influential bloggers.
This story is completely unique. Written in third-person present tense, Paternus often reads more like a film script than a novel. It could be described as brutal urban fantasy, combined with a small amount of YA elements and mixed with all the demons, Gods, and mythological creatures you were too lazy to research at school. It starts off pretty slow, almost like Ashton is trying to find his voice. This section, for the first 120 or so pages is what some readers have difficulty with. It will switch between Fi and Zeke's 'will they, won't they' relationship that's intertwined with a huge war dog called Mol and an overtly British and loving uncle- and also the Order of the Bull presenting what is simmering behind the gaze of the world with reference to the Gods of myths and legends who may very well have to re-wage a war that's been on and off for centuries. These behemothic beings are half human, half animal, revered Gods and unbelievably powerful. They have human qualities, personalities, and relationships but I wouldn't like to cross them. I'd say half of the first 120 pages reads like it could be a book dedicated to teenagers, but after reading further on I can analyse this was a misconception. This narrative is highly adult in nature so if readers aren't put off by Fi's initial point of view chapters then things will click and then lead us to a hugely dark and potentially dangerous world-defining experience. I'd have rated this section 6/10.
I have to congratulate Dyrk for what he has achieved here. He must have put 100's of hours of research into this tale and it shows. Every few pages I found myself googling a new word or finding out more about a mythical being from ancient Egypt (or any number of archaic religions) that are featured here. I even googled the word Quetzalcoatlus. This was one of the few fantasy stories that has had that effect on me as a reader. I normally abuse google and my Oxford Dictionary when I read Epics. There is a depth and complexity to what is presented here as often as there is adrenaline-fuelled, engaging thriller like confrontations. One scene in a hospital where Fi works and looks after an elderly gentleman called Peter stands out.
Urban fantasy to me is often lame and cliche. Topless werewolves, sexy vampires, needless love stories that interrupt the drama. Paternus is gritty. Vampires and werewolves are present but you wouldn't want to spend Valentine's Day with them. This is urban fantasy done right. It's dark, adult, gruesome, and that being said, there is always a slight underglow present that hopefully, the team on the side of right will succeed. I believe this is the first of a trilogy so don't expect complete closure. Paternus does, however, conclude with an enticing and exciting finale. It's really tough to summarise but if I had to it would be something along the lines of:- A mixture of The Iliad (for the myths), Dante's Inferno (for the beasts), The Dark Tower (for the alternative world switching), and The Hunger Games (for young love in crazy circumstances). That description doesn't do the depth of this tale justice but I'm happy with it. Paternus is a dark urban fantasy gem and if you can get past the first 20% then you are in for a treat. Highly recommended- it didn't achieve 5-stars due to the slow start- that's all.
November 25, 2020:War of Gods for your ears is finally here! The audiobook for the epic conclusion to The Paternus Trilogy is now live and available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Sorry it's taken so long. I hope you enjoy it :)
June 23, 2020: The Paternus Trilogy is now complete! Book three, Paternus: War of Gods, has been officially loosed upon the worlds :)
As promised, this one is truly epic - or at least epically long compared to the first two books in the trilogy. Book 1 came in at about 135,000 words, and Book 2 was about 156,000. This one is real close to 236,000.
I hope you are all doing well during these difficult times. Be safe, and be well.
December 7, 2019:Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology has been released! Short stories from 14 amazing authors like Michael J. Sullivan and Will Wight. And somehow they let me in there too, with a brand spanking new story in the world of Paternus entitled "The Death of Osiris." This short recounts the tale of the battle between Horus and Set, told through the perspectives of Baphomet and Zadkiel, two favorite characters from The Paternus Trilogy - but it's really about the selfless bravery of a young girl named Hatshepsut...
November 21, 2019: It's not too late! The Paternus Hardbacks Kickstarter may be funded and done, but even if you missed it, you can still get Rise of Gods hardbacks & signed paperbacks, War of Gods (Book 3) ARCs, and gallery quality posters for a limited time. Pre-order store.
November 19, 2019: We did it! I've received the official congrats email for the Paternus: Rise of Gods Hardbacks #Kickstarter: $13,815, 260% funded, 368 backers. THANK YOU ALL!
If you missed it, RoG hardbacks, signed paperbacks, Book 3 ARCs and posters will still be available for a limited time. Stay tuned for a link!
November 9, 2019: Hi folks! Just jumping in to say things are moving along well behind the scenes of the Paternus: Rise of Gods - Fantasy Novel Hardbacks Kickstarter. I'm getting all the ducks in a row for production of all the rewards and add-ons, and finishing up the BackerKit and Survey. Ed Binkley has begun work on the art as well. I can't wait to see the first sketches!
The BackerKit will be available to all backers right after the Kickstarter splashes down from its three week flight on Monday, November 18, at 11:59pm EST. The survey will be sent two weeks after that, on Tuesday, December 3.
We're in the slow middle-part of the Kickstarter now, which is to be expected, but if you want to share to keep things buzzing, that would be awesome. Thank you all again for your generous support :)
I'm so excited I can barely stand it. This book will now be everything I ever wanted it to be, and that all of you so much deserve - and it's all thanks to you! What's next? STRETCH GOAL #3 - UNLOCKED: A new short story set in the world of Paternus!
And Stretch Goal #2 is now unlocked. If we meet this stretch goal, Ed Binkley's art will be in fully rendered color - AND - the hardbacks will be printed in color. That would mean not just the art, but chapter headings and other nifty embellishments as well, making the book an even more special collectors item. I still can't thank you all enough, but, THANK YOU AGAIN!
Stretch Goal #1 is now unlocked - for art by the fabulous Ed Binkley to include in the hardback! This will be an illustration of none other than The Prathamaja Nandana, a favorite character in the Paternus books.
The Kickstarter runs from today through Monday, November 18, at 11:59 PM
Just some of the items on offer: -Signed and numbered Rise of Gods Hardbacks -Signed Rise of Gods Paperbacks -Early reader War of Gods (Book 3) ARC eBooks -War of Gods ARC Paperbacks -Gallery quality Posters -Exclusive Special Edition alt cover Rise of Gods Paperbacks -and MORE
I'm really excited about this. If you find something you like, please share the news, and together, we can make this dream a reality. If this goes well, I'll be doing them for all of the books in the trilogy, with a snazzy box for the set :) Thank you!
June 8, 2019: The cover reveal for Paternus: War of Gods, book three of the Paternus Trilogy, is coming! Monday, June 10, on Fantasy Book Critic...
September 7, 2018: Hi everyone! Not sure what's happened, but nearly everything I have marked as "like" is no longer showing that way. I'm trying to find out what the problem is, but pleased be assured I have not "unliked" anything.
August 3, 2018: First, a huge THANK YOU to this wonderful community for supporting the launch of Paternus: Wrath of Gods, book two in The Paternus Trilogy. I've been amazed by the response, and the success of the release has been beyond my wildest dreams.
Second - the audiobook for Wrath of Gods is in production! Thrilled to have Nik Magill back to narrate. Projected release date is some time in September, 2018. Audible doesn't allow us to pick a release date, but as soon as it's up, you all will be the first to know. Thanks again, I hope everyone is having a fabulous reading summer :)
April 12, 2108: Hello everyone! Just here to let you know that Book 2 of The Paternus Trilogy, Paternus: Wrath of Gods, is now available for preorder on the Amazon. (Release date July 10). Thanks, and I hope you all are well :)
March 31, 2018: Greetings everyone! Here to report that all is well and on schedule for the July 10 release of Paternus: Wrath of Gods, book 2 in The Paternus Trilogy--and meanwhile, eBook pre-orders will go live on April 12. Thanks!
Jan 1, 2018: Happy New Year everyone! Today, the cover for book 2 of The Paternus Trilogy, Paternus: Wrath of Gods, has been revealed on The Fantasy Hive, and the release date has been announced - July 10, 2018. The book will be available for preorder, but the date is yet to be determined. I'll be sure to post that information as soon as I have it.
Thank you all, and all the best in the new year! DA
Dec 9, 2017: Hi everyone! Just a quick note that on January 1st, the cover for book 2, Paternus: Wrath of Gods, will be revealed, and the release date will be announced, over on the new blog and review site The Fantasy Hive. The listing will also go up here on Goodreads on that day. Thanks! DA
Sep 25, 2017: Hello Goodreads friends! I won't be rating or reviewing my book here but I want to let you know about some recent changes in the listing for Paternus.
As you may know, a new cover was announced and posted back in July (and the response has been tremendous, thank you!) Both covers, old and new, are still showing on the Paternus listing, but they are indeed the same book, I promise.
Now, in ongoing efforts to brand the series and make subsequent books more recognizable, changes are in the works for the title listing as well. Paternus will now be listed as Paternus: Rise of Gods (The Paternus Trilogy, #1) - again, same book, just a new listing. Sorry for any confusion!
And now to the exciting part (for me, anyway :) - soon I'll be able to reveal the cover for Paternus: Wrath of Gods, Book 2 in The Paternus Trilogy!
I am a lover of mythologies, Greek mythology is my favorite but I like Norse mythology, Egyptian mythology, Indian mythology and others! I personally had an idea for a book of my own to write a book merging all different mythologies into one book and circumstances revealed that this book already exists and it is non other than Paternus. I had to read it when I knew that and I even gave up writing my own book because I thought Ashton would definitely do a better job. I even decided that this will be a pick for my book club and it was.
So the book is divided into 3 parts and most of us in my book club agreed upon those parts. The writing over all is good as the prose itself but part 1 was slow and confusing. Most of the members were confused at this part and we wanted a better understanding of the plot. It felt a bit all over the place to be honest. Now the second part provided this understanding we were looking for, not completely but we were not as confused as in part 1. Part 3 is the best part and it was our favorite part because it had much more action, it made much more sense and things fell into place.
I have much respect for the author for the work he had done in researching all those different mythologies and then making it all work out one way or another. Another thing we agreed upon is that we liked the Flower and Figs much more than the other chapters. Some members skimmed or skipped the latter even. Fortunately, most of the book revolves around those chapters. Once again, the most interesting part was definitely the world-building which obviously took some effort and it shows!
The characters are also well written, I didn’t have strong feelings about them but I liked them. I saw what the reveals were going to be from early on because of the foreshadowing but it is a good feeling when you’re right about those twists!
Summary: I think Paternus was a good introduction to the series, the book obviously was well researched and written with love but I think it should have been a bit more organized. I am still planning to continue the series and I believe it would be even better and I am looking forward to it!
Upon reading the first few chapters of Paternus it’s tempting to play the ‘this meets that’ game: it’s ‘American Gods meets Buffy’ or it’s ‘True Blood meets The Talisman’ etc. In fact, as the story progresses, this novel features a sufficient wealth of original ideas to make such easy comparisons redundant. Dyrk Ashton displays an impressively epic scope in the conception of his world and a keen eye for action and spectacle. I particularly liked how the complexity of the characters reflects the way people in the pre-monotheistic era conceived of their gods. The ancient, powerful beings that emerge from the shadows of the modern age to resume their age-old feud are a capricious, contradictory and treacherous lot but also capable of boundless courage, compassion and benevolence. All in all, Paternus is an imaginative and frequently exhilarating ride and a refreshing take on contemporary fantasy – highly recommended.
Paternus is a smartly written and laden with emotion debut, and Dyrk Ashton is a promising author beyond doubt.
Every story you have heard as a kid. Every mythological creature ever imagined. Greek, Egyptian and Scandinavian Gods. Samson, Baphomet and Lancelot. The Almighty God Himself. All of them are real, and in a constant war with each other since the beginning of time, hidden from the eyes of humanity. But when a seventeen-year-old kid is involuntarily involved, everything is about to change.
"Is it possible? After all this time? Years, decades, centuries. It has to be. Can it be a millennium? It's possible. Feels like an epoch. Could he live that long, locked away? Sealed in the cave, he's had no way to keep track of time."
This engaging novel is part Urban Fantasy, part Mythology. A story told through the eyes of numerous, compelling characters with a variety of backgrounds and different motives. The subtle use of language as well as the turns of phrase result in an evocative writing with functional prose. Ashton's talent though lies in the small reversal of scenes that create tension and uncertainty not only for the characters but for the reader himself also.
Paternus' only but significant problem is in the first quarter of the book. In the first one-hundred pages there's no action, no continuity and no direction for the story. It's obvious that Ashton tried to lay strong foundations not only for this novel but its successors as well, and he did succeed in doing so, but it took him more than what was necessary.
All in all, Paternus is a strong debut from a promising author, and I urge you to read it and not be discouraged by the first chapters. The rest of the book is well-worth your patience.
Dyrk Ashton is a man of a thousand faces, or a thousand jobs at least. I mean the guy has worn so many hats throughout his life and according to his bio, he's been a Grip, a Production Manager, a Producer of television commercials, an Editor, a Script-Writer, an Assistant Director, even an Actor! Ultimately when the native of Ohio realized that the movie scene in L.A. was pretty cutthroat and competitive and he was barely making a living, he decided to get his PhD and become a College Professor of Film Studies. Yeah because most people would do the same in that scenario right? I mean, the guy is incredibly accomplished and resilient. It was during his time as a professor that he realized he had some down time to read and subsequently to write a little as well. I guess he figured he'd done everything else, why not try his hand at this whole Fantasy novel writing thing too? Well, PATERNUS: RISE OF GODS is the result of all of his life experiences up to this point and I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy by the man himself! The first blurb I read about the book likened it to a cross between American Gods and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That's quite the comparison, so when I sat down last week to read the opening chapter, it was with more than a fair amount of anticipation because I truly had no idea what to expect being a newbie to Dyrk's work.
PATERNUS: RISE OF GODS takes place in the modern world but with mythical creatures and gods running amok and interspersed within society, albeit fairly clandestinely. Fiona, the main character along with her "boyfriend" Zeke is an intern at a local hospital. She is charged with caring for a patient named Peter, who is suffering from a type of dementia. Fiona has had a pretty raw deal in her life so far. She is an orphan who is now being raised by her eccentric Uncle Edgar and it is pretty obvious in the beginning of the book that she is a conflicted teenager who is struggling with her identity and self-esteem. Things don't get easier for her though as the hospital where Fiona works is suddenly attacked by a group of sinister men who it appears are looking for something or someone. An incredible battle ensues where Fiona and Zeke barely escape, taking with them the patient under her care Peter. After the inexplicable attack, Fiona is left grasping for answers as to why anyone would want to attack a hospital and hurt those inside? She takes Peter and Zeke to her Uncle Edgar's home to relay to him what occurred and to hopefully find a way to make sense of all that just took place. It is then that Uncle Edgar imparts upon his niece and her companions that the world they are living in is not as normal as it may seem at first glance. Added to this is the fact that there are monsters that are very real and are now hunting them based on an old war that has been raging for thousands of years. Now Fiona, Zeke, Uncle Edgar, and the mysterious Peter are thrust into a very real battle for not only their own lives, but for the future of the world. As they flee Uncle Edgar's home to escape the shadowy men who attacked the hospital, they encounter all manner of werewolves, vampires, and mythical beings right out of the pages of Hindu, Sumerian, Japanese, and European folklore. All the while, Fiona and Zeke are drawn gradually closer as they battle for their lives and we see Fiona really come into her own as a more confident and decisive person. We are also treated to a little more background on Uncle Edgar and Peter and what role they play in the history's old war among super beings and gods. Serious questions remain however like, what were the men who attacked the hospital trying to find exactly? Who is the enigmatic Peter and is he actually something entirely different than his feeble appearance suggests? What part does Uncle Edgar play in all of this and why now are the gods who have hidden themselves among humanity making themselves known and unleashing hell upon the Earth? You're going to have to pick up PATERNUS: RISE OF GODS if you want to find out, because I'm simply not telling.
Let me start off by saying, I am not a big fan of Urban Fantasy for those who know me. In fact, it's my least favorite sub-genre of Fantasy. So when I say I was blown away in a good way by this book, it really is saying something about both the story and the author Dyrk Ashton. Admittedly, the book starts out a bit slow. I believe that this was necessary though to set up the numerous characters and the backstory so that when things finally do hit the fan about a third of the way through, you don't have to catch up and can just enjoy the hellacious ride until the very end. This book essentially has everything you could want, bloody battles, intense chase scenes, vampires and werewolves (as I mentioned earlier), mysterious cabals, mysticism and folklore, characters who grow as they are tested, and a compelling history that is at the same time immensely interesting. I also enjoyed the first-person narrative because it really gave the reader a wonderful insight into each character's mindset and motivations. Often times first-person doesn't click with me but when done well it can really add to the story in a way that third-person simply cannot. I thought that Dyrk Ashton handled it brilliantly. In the end this book was just so damn fun to read. It's always nice to just lose yourself in a book that you don't have to think too much about. PATERNUS: RISE OF GODS did have shades of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in it but I thought the creatures were more reminiscent of the old Harry Harryhausen films and the 90's TV serial Hercules than American Gods. I truly cannot say enough good things about this book, and knowing that book two WRATH OF GODS is being released next month (July 10th to be exact) is just an added bonus because I want more of these characters and legends. With that in mind, definitely pick up PATERNUS: RISE OF GODS and then book two next month, you won't be disappointed if you love Urban Fantasy with breakneck action and scarier than hell mythic beasts. Dyrk Ashton, I think you've finally found your calling.
Paternus was Fantasy-Faction's pick for the 2016 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off final. A spectacularly entertaining and meticulously-crafted debut, Paternus is an exciting tale of myths and monsters in modern-day society. Read our full, spoiler-free review here!
I have a lot of patience, normally I don’t DNF a book, but after 27% I think I should. 2.5/5
I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately I’ve been struggling since the very beginning. First chapter was boring, it's not a good way to start a book with a weak opening, as it can make readers who read the sample skip to the next book on Amazon. The following chapters were better though. I’m 4 hours into the audiobook, but nothing interesting has happened and there was no action. The narration and the writing-style were ok, but the story didn't go in any direction. I guess a good editor could have made it a lot more cohesive though. Actually I'm surprised only the top reviewer pointed out the problem with the structure.
As for the characters - I didn’t find any of the characters appealing, especially the main character Fi. The chapters with Fi were boring and felt like a YA-ish take on urban fantasy that wasn’t well-executed.
Maybe it gets somewhat better, but unfortunately I feel that DNF this book is unavoidable. Edit: I choose the take down the rating, mainly because petros's review,who was the only one to point on the problem with the first quarter. I give it the benefit of the doubt.
I thank the author for sending me this audiobook :)
* I was sent this for free from the author in exchange for an honest review *
I must admit, I knew very little about this book when I first went into it, but I met the author at SRFC and I found him charming. I knew I wanted to like the book, but that doesn't always happen, in this case, it luckily did, and I found that I really got sucked into this and read virtually the whole thing in just one day!
I actually ended up buying this on audiobook so I could listen to it, because I really wanted to get back to the story and find out what would happen. It's a slow start to the book, setting the scene and jumping between a LOT of characters, but it's done really well, and it draws you in. This world is urban, but there are monsters that live in the shadows and background. There are mythological creatures, creatures of folklore, beings and deities, Asura and Daeva, Gods and legends. All of these creatures are known as Firstborn or are their descendants, and the Humans of the world know literally nothing about them...until...
We follow two young people, a man and a woman called Zeke and Fi (for Fiona). Fi and Zeke both work in the local hospital, and they have kind of been on a few dates when we pick up the story. Fi isn't quite sure how she feels around Zeke, and things are a bit muddled, but she has hopes things could go further. Zeke feels a bit more strongly and has grand ambitions to let Fi know, but just when he musters the courage the hospital where they work is attacked by monsters.
Fi has spent much of her time at the hospital working with Peter, an elderly gentleman who is quite unable to communicate and very dependant on care. He's a nice old man, and he has a strange allure to him, but she sees him as a patient and cares for him the best she can. However, when these creatures turn up it is clear they want to take Peter, and so she and Zeke have to do their best to defend and protect him from these unknown and terrifying creatures.
From this point on we get a pretty fast-paced story with a lot of adventure, action and a good level of gore. There's certainly moments of terror for our characters, but there are also great moments of friendship and Dyrk has managed to create a good balance of both.
This world is quite unlike any other because it has real forms of all the mythology you've ever heard about. Think of just how terrifying some of the monsters in tales can be, now imagine that they were real...pretty scary! That's exactly what Fi and Zeke experience and following just how they deal with it was a lot of fun. It's also told in present tense so the action unfolds right before your eyes, and theres a lot of good revelations which kept me interested.
I would certainly like to continue on with the series, and I think its a great one to try out if you want something just a bit different. 4*s from me :)
I'm fairly certain Dyrk Ashton is the nicest guy in the fantasy genre. I met him last year at a convention and he handed me a signed copy of Paternus. I graciously accepted, knowing full well it would be a while before I managed to get around to reading it. And now I have, and by the gods I wish it hadn't taken me so damned long!
Paternus is pretty much about a war between the gods. I actually described it this way to my lass (who will be reading it soon!), and she asked "Which gods?" The answer to that question can only be "All of them!" Now before you start thinking you know how the events in this book will go down... Stop. You don't. Dyrk plays with myths, legends, history, and scripture, and turns them all sideways. Then he somehow makes them fit together as though that were the plan all along.
It's a slow start, there's no doubt about that, but it doesn't really feel slow. Dyrk does a wonderful job of making us care for the characters right from the get go. There's an odd mix of perspectives as well, ranging from gods to humans to other things, and though some are more interesting than others, none of them are ever dull. And when the pace does pick it, it doesn't let up. There's action in this book that belongs in a Hollywood blockbuster.
But I usually reserve my 5 stars for books that are truly special. Books that add something to the genre, or change the game in some way. And that is exactly why Paternus is getting all 5 of those stars from me. It's not about characters that I just can't stop reading. It's not about a plot that twists and turns its way into a pretzel. Paternus is getting 5 stars because of the style in which it is written.
The book feels like some sort of unholy cross between a novel and a screenplay. It's written in present tense, littered with exposition, and riddled with info dumps. And I don't hesitate to say that in the hands of 90% of the authors out there, it would be an unreadable mess. But somehow Dyrk manages to make it work. And not just work, but work so well that it flows beautifully. There were times I didn't even realise I'd just read a blatant info dump until I finished a chapter and thought back on it. The narrative truly sucks you in and doesn't let you come up for air until it's finished with you.
So Paternus gets a glorious 5 stars from me. It's a compelling story, with a sideways twist on the war of the gods, and it's told in a fashion that is unique within the genre.
An excellent new take on urban fantasy, Paternus: Rise of Gods was fascinating, fun and simply fantastic.
Calling all fans of mythology, lore, legends, folk tales and all that jazz. You need to read Paternus because somehow the brilliant Dyrk Ashton managed to take almost every myth and legend that we know and didn't know of into a cohesive fantasy narrative that was incredibly fun to read. From Greek to Norse, Celtic, Sumerian, South American, Russian, Chinese and Japanese myths, as well as legends of yore, all could be found in this singular UF creation which made me geek-squeal in delight many times during the course of reading this book. What truly amazed me was how well such an amalgamation of different lores worked in the story. I think this was achieved mainly through the notion of how myths were created, propagated, adopted and adapted through the ages by different cultures and peoples. The level of research that Ashton has poured into pulling this off must have been enormous.
Rise of Gods was overall an immensely entertaining read, but I would like to highlight something which had been raised by some other reviewers as well. The first quarter of the book has some issues which would have put me off without knowing how much better the rest of it would be. Two of the main characters, Fiona (aka Fi) and Zeke, appeared in the second chapter and it immediately read like a cliched young adult urban fantasy with romance thrown into the mix. It also didn't help much that the first several chapters constantly changed POVs and locations pretty quickly. I'm usually fine with head-jumping POVs in a single chapter because I grew up on fantasy in the 80s, but with so many new characters doing that at the beginning of a book it could get pretty jarring. One could put that down as the author trying to set the scene and also establish his voice in this ambitious debut. However, it didn't take long before the story took flight and it became immensely hard to put the darn book down. In fact, it's been awhile since I've been so compelled to finish reading a book in two days flat. And I'm also sorely tempted to binge-read the entire trilogy at this point.
Fi and Zeke became less cliched YA characters and more interesting as the story progressed, but I would say that I'm still not fully invested in them yet. Strangely, I was more concerned for some of the supporting characters, especially for a particularly devoted uncle and a canine companion. But, I sensed that Fi and Zeke's character arcs are poised to really take off in the sequel. Everything is pointing to the next two books ramping up on character and plot development to a spectacular finale. From what I read so far (and even without my co-blogger's insistent rave about it), I've a feeling that I'm going to be treated to a mythically epic adventure that pushes the boundaries of what modern urban fantasy has to offer.
So I’ve had this book sitting on my kindle for over a year and finally got around to reading it. If I’d known what I was missing out on I’d have gotten to it sooner! As a book about ancient gods, myths, and legends come to life in a mostly American Midwest setting, it’s pretty hard not to directly compare this to American Gods. I wouldn’t say Dyrk is quite the writer Neil Gaiman is yet, but reading this was at least a pleasurable experience for me as reading American Gods was. Dyrk’s knowledge and research of a wide range of mythological traditions made for a fascinating and diverse cast of characters, and the fast pace of action made for a more cracking read than the more meandering American Gods.
American Gods is on my favorites shelf and I’ve said that I liked this as much or more, so how can I not give it 5 stars? Looking forward to the sequel!
This is one of my favorite reads of the year, and I devoured it in under 48 hours, despite a busy schedule. One of those books I was pulling out my Ipad to read when I had 15 minutes to spare. It's an incredibly fun, fast-paced, and informative romp set on the opening day of a war between the gods. But that summation doesn't really do Paternus justice. There's so much more here, and Mr. Ashton tantalizes with great mysteries, while also satisfying with stunning twists and action. The writing deserves a special mention as well - very polished and smooth, with the occasional flourish that really impressed me. I suppose one of the closest comparisons to this book might be American Gods - but for me, Paternus was better. I'm avidly awaiting the sequel.
This is the second self-pub I've read recently that's been written, edited, proofread and artworked to a very professional standard. Peternus is a rollercoaster ride in which EVERY SINGLE MYTH you've ever heard of is referenced - and hundreds more you never knew existed. In an alternate modern-day Earth, Fiona and Zeke come to realise that myths are real - all of them. And most of these myths are out to kill them. The premise is excellent and the writing is engaging, often humorous, and in places absolutely horrifying (The Leech - *shudder*). This would easily have been a 4 star review for me, but I found the writing style to be just a little bit confusing to wrap my head around. The author head-hops to an extent I've never seen before, changing POV from one paragraph to the next. While this certainly ups the ante and keeps the pace rollicking along, I found that there were sections where it flowed brilliantly and I switched POV effortlessly, but quite a few where it stumbled and jarred me out of the narrative. For this reason I thought it was only honest to give it a three-star review. But you know what? It's a debut, so it won't be perfect. And that's alright. I have no doubt the sequel will be just as entertaining, and I'm sure too that the author's writing skills will have improved. I have no doubt it'll be full of more of those flowing passages and fewer where it didn't quite work. That fact aside, this was a really unique novel and it's very clear the author has a hard-on for mythological research. I'll definitely be reading the sequel.
My initial thought, after reading the first few pages, was that this was going to be an unoriginal retread of American Gods. So I proceeded with fairly low expectations, but ended up being completely shocked by just how freaking good this was.
The American Gods influence is clear. All legends are true to at least some degree, there are gods living among us in disguise, there's a way brewing among them, etc. But Ashton takes this as a starting place rather than a goal, and builds a wholly original story out of it.
This isn't a perfect book. The first half, while interesting, also wandered a bit and would have benefited from tighter plotting; many of the twists and turns I had seen coming well in advance; the fight scenes are too drawn out for my taste; the protagonist wasn't a Mary Sue as such, but she was a bit too obviously "dream girl for a significant portion of guys."
But those complaints aside, I was thoroughly engrossed by this. I was about 2/3 done with the book when I got up this morning; by the time lunch came around, I'd given up on being a functional adult as a bad job and hunkered down to finish. I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel, and any book that leaves me saying "I want MORE" is a good one.l
Urban fantasy isn't normally my bag, but this felt more like historical myth and legend manifesting itself, for real, in modern day... everywhere. I expected a US heavy story, but I was wrong. Many wonderful locations, people's and, more importantly, monsters, demons and gods(!) punctuate this epic throughout. A smashing debut that promises a potential full blown 5* to follow this 4* story and performance. In fact, I'd say 4.5* if I could. Very real characters meet apparently real mythological beings - the research for which is evident and incredible. I'll look forward to the sequel for sure.
What's not to like about a tale involving gods, demi-gods, heroes of old and a 4000 year old dog. How this book only came third in last years SPFBO I don't know. Only one question remains. Where's the sequel, Dyrk?
I read an amazing movie, but a novel, in my opinion, it was not.
Dyrk Ashton's Paternus is a curious thing. The entire concept is mind-boggling, but its execution leaves me wishing for a more "conventional" book.
Don't get me wrong, I love the story! I just dislike its execution.
What is it about? Imagine every myth has a kernel of truth, but not in a religious kind of way, everything science knows is correct, but key events are missing due to the fact that no human knows about them. Until now, or then, or sometime maybe today but it could also be tomorrow. We got the teenage protagonist and her love interest, we got bad guys and not so bad guys, and we got a truckload of secrets the protagonist and her beau discover over the course of 24 hours.
I love Ashton's ideas, the concept is incredible, prepare for the big and wholly subjective but.
But it is written like a screenplay, or a comic book. The majority of its parts are written in present tense, with no truly distinctive separation in points of view. I can handle the tense, but having perspective shift without so much of a paragraph separator was beyond annoying.
Ashton worked in Hollywood, and I understand the differing conventions between novel and screenplay, but we readers aren't potential directors or actors, usually. We don't need info dumps that help define characters but do very little to the story, other than tossing a wrench into the story's momentum. Switching from screenwriter to novelist and vice versa is tough. Sure, both are typed out stories, though one relies more on other sources to provide the visuals while the other is limited by the very nature of that there never will be massive ILM special effects displayed on the pages.
To me this is the greatest drawback of the novel. Paternus is a good movie to read, but a novel it is not. At least to me.
Paternus is a surprisingly phenomenal debut by up and coming author, Dyrk Ashton. Just about every mythological god, goddess, demon, etc. you grew up hearing or reading about is represented here in full detail. From Norse to Greek Mythology, Christianity to Hinduism, monsters and Gods alike clash around the world, bringing the third holocaust to fruition.
You can tell throughout the novel that Ashton did his homework. The characters and environments are thoroughly fleshed out and detailed. All of the fight scenes feel cinematic on a grand scale, like you are watching a movie rather than reading a novel. Even though so much is introduced to you early on and can be a bit confusing at times, Ashton takes the time to explain each and every side story and brings them all together perfectly.
The only issues with the novel are the cover and the first chapter. Not that they are necessarily bad things, just that they may turn people off from reading this masterpiece. The cover doesn't represent the depth of information hidden in here and the first chapter makes the book feel like it's another YA romance novel. But if you can get past those things, which you should, you'll love this book as much as I did. I also thoroughly enjoyed Nik Magill's narration. He really brought the characters to life and set a great pace for the novel.
Ashton has spoiled us with just a glimpse of the story as Paternus leaves tons of unanswered questions and more gods and demons to encounter. Looking forward to the sequel or sequels he gifts us in the future.
This book is like a crazier, raunchier American Gods with a healthy dash of Michael Crichton-like rollercoaster pacing and action. If the idea of gods, myths, and legends in "the real world" interests you, you might like this one. The book goes into quite good detail of the various myths, and the descriptions are very vivid. The writing is done in present tense, which gives a good feel of the action up close, and flows quite well. This is a great example of the creative variety that indie writing has to offer. It won't be for everyone, but those looking for action, adventure, and great interactions between a cast of characters (some crazy, some not so crazy), it's definitely worth a shot. There was definitely a lot of laugh-out-loud moments.
The only thing is that Ashton clearly didn't read Chapter 2 of Writing Fiction...*shifty eyes*
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Imagine a novel or story that’s hard to describe, there have been quite a few of them over the past few years. Now with those stories, you can break them down and still make sense to whomever you are describing them to. But then there are those books that even when broken down, they are hard to encapsulate within genre, style or even plot. These are those rare gems that can go either way but usually have a core following and considered classics by many. I’m glad to say Paternus can be added to that small list as well. Paternus was a SPFBO finalist chosen by the fine folks over at Fantasy Faction & I can’t thank them enough for selecting this amazing debut.
Paternus is a doozy of a story and I mean it in the nicest way possible. To summarize the start of the main plot like I do with all my reviews is going to nigh impossible with this one but I’ll try my best. The first 10 chapters reveal a constantly rotating cast of characters some of them human, most of them immortals or near immortal as you can get. The storyline while beginning from a current time standpoint has its roots in a conflict that spans eons or yugas (this will be clear to fellow aficionados of Hindu mythology). The few humans who are introduced into this conflict are Fiona Patterson and her friend (maybe boyfriend) Zeke. Fiona is a teenager who has been orphaned and interns in a geriatric hospital wherein she takes care of a guy suffering from dementia named Peter. Fiona or Fi as she’s fondly called by everyone close to her, lives with her uncle Edgar who is as docile as they come and encourages her while successfully straddling her exasperating teenage antics from time to time. Fi and Zeke have a weird turn in their blossoming friendship but before things can settle down. They both learn a few secrets about Peter, Uncle Edgar and Fi herself. It’s from here on we are taken on a ride of global proportions and epic intensity as they run into several other beings who also take POV turns and find out more about the true nature of the world.
The biggest plus point that I can reveal about this story is the author’s imagination and his love for the various world mythologies, lore & religiosities. Plus I cannot state this enough as to how masterfully Dyrk Ashton has seemingly combined them to put forth a grand unified theorem for world mythologies. So far amidst all the various urban fantasy and literary fantasy books that I’ve read not one book has even come close to the mythological finesse that is showcased within Paternus. Kudos to you Dyrk Ashton for managing to write an epic story that combines all of the world mythos and makes it coherent. Especially with this I would like to point out one very cool thing that the author has done, I’m a big mythology nerd and being Indian, reading all of Hindu mythology's myriad texts and stories has been a lifelong hobby of mine. So you all can imagine how thrilled I was to see the author include Shiva, Parvati, Nandi, Indra and several other cool aspects (Deva/Asura/etc.) of Hindu mythology. Also with the usage of several Sanskrit terminology, the author not only managed to get the words correct but also made it very contextual within the plot. As a desi reader to see a non-subcontinental person utilize these things so solidly made my inner mythology nerd do an orgasmic Tandav.
The next thing which I enjoyed about this book was the characterization and I’m not talking about the humans here. This book focuses a lot on various individuals who can simply be described as gods, demons and a whole bunch of other mythological personae. To give them all distinct personalities and not anthropomorphize them is a Herculean task. However it is one which the author manages to perform adroitly. It was interesting to read about these beings and see their thoughts about the modern world (a particularly funny example of this is one such being who is trying to make a specific species of beasts classified as "endangered" as they are his earthly brethren and hold a special place in his mother’s heart).
These beings were so crucial to the storyline and to make them distinct and showcase them not simply as monsters but truly as higher order creatures with their own agendas was what made me enjoy this story even more. Also the author doesn’t just use European and Christian mythos, he goes beyond anyone else I’ve ever read to include Indian, Sumerian, Japanese, African, Mesopotamian and several other Asian mythologies. This felt truly global and the interactions that occur as well as the backstory for the eons-old struggle that is going on has been laid bare in a very methodical & quizzical way. There are hints laced throughout the story and it’s particularly fun to try to connect the dots along with the characters. I must admit that I didn’t quite get them all but those which I did, it was exhilarating to see them pan out in the story later on.
The action sequences are truly mind boggling as the story progresses become more and more frequent as well. There’s an undeniable horror element to these action sequences which involve the immortals and it is entirely fitting. Some reviewers have described these scenes as very blockbuster-esque and I’ve to agree. If this book were ever to be made into a movie/tv series (HBO), I would be first in line to watch it. The book’s latter half more than makes up for the lull in action in its preceding half and also ends on a humdinger of a climax (thankfully no cliffhangers here). Lastly the humor level in this book is often an understated one, there’s no laugh out loud moments but there truly are some comedic moments that are carefully woven in and brought a chuckle whenever I came across them. For most readers though, this effect might be completely dependent on your comedic tastes.
The one thing that I could say that is a big drawback about this book is for the starting few chapters the reader is introduced to a myriad number of characters and a lot is thrown at the reader which doesn’t make a lot of sense (at that moment). The readers will have to persevere through and it’s not a slog but it gets a tad exasperating to be introduced to a different character after another and not get a longer view at their lives. This was the main reason as to why this book scored an 8.5 in my view. This also is the sole negative point about this book IMHO. There’s also a couple of minor characters who seem a tad caricature-ish but then they are absolutely minor and I think one of them is also presented that way for comedic effect.
CONCLUSION: Paternus is a hard book to classify but not a hard book to like or enjoy. It can be a considered a classic in the making as it’s one of those books that doesn’t have any predecessor. But in the future will be considered the pratham of its own sub-genre. Paternus is an absolute gem of a story and Dyrk Ashton is a bloody, terrific genius. Miss out on this one at your own risk
I got to the point where a bad guy chewed off a little girl's "soft grubby hands and gnawed one of her arms up to her elbow"...
Yes, I AM aware that it gets better after the first 100 or so pages (read other people's reviews), and Yes - I AM a huge fan of well-researched mythology mixed with Urban Fantasy and this book sounds right up my alley! Unfortunately, I found myself feeling rather disturbed from the start (too much gore for me) and I can't say the characters were interesting enough to keep me going.
Anyways, sounds like the author did an enormous amount of research which I totally respect and people are genuinely enjoying this book! And Yes, I do get disturbed pretty easily XD
If you're looking for more books with kids being tortured to death (XD), here is another popular recommendation that I couldn't handle:
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I bought Paternus for my Kindle. On this occasion I didn't read any reviews first, I just got stuck into reading it and what a find!
Certainly difficult to categorise, Paternus has Gods and monsters, both male and female, humans from myth and legend and the normal everyday people of our modern world, (at least, that's what we are led to believe at first).
The amount of research that must have gone into this book is astounding. Myths and legends have always been something that I'm quite interested in, although, Dyrk takes this interest to the very extremes. His knowledge of world geography is impressive, (mine is awful) and the way he ties in his characters with background from their native countries highlights how well read and travelled he is.
You have people of various nationalities here and languages are something else that has been taken into account for this novel. One God or creature or human for that matter can be known by so many different names in different regions of the world.
The plot itself is pretty complex, with parallel worlds being reachable via 'Slipping'. Timelines have always been an interest of mine too, though it can make the mind go a bit wonky if you're not concentrating on the story.
I like the way it all starts with what looks like and appears to be a simple brawl. That first chapter really grabbed me. It did slow down for a couple of chapters after that but it was necessary in order to begin the introduction of characters. The two main characters being Fiona and Zeke, two fairly ordinary (or are they?) young adults who have more than a passing interest in one another.
I won't go too 'in depth' with the plot as there's too much, to sum up. What I will say, and the author and people who have read Paternus may identify with, is that I wouldn't mind being greeted by Mrs Mirskaya (minus the moustache), that sounds like a very safe and comfortable environment!
If I was going to be really picky about the book, I would say that some of the chapters are too long. That takes nothing away from the story itself, it just means it's less eye-straining for the reader. Other than that, it was a brilliant book made all the more remarkable when you consider this was Dyrk's debut novel. I look forward to reading part 2 in the near future and thoroughly recommend others to read Paternus.
So, basically it's American Gods if it was a action horror movie rather than a whimsical Gaiman-esque road rtrip. This is a compliment to the author because there's a staggering number of mythologies mixed together in this particular oddball stew of Christianity, paganism, Hinduism, and Arthurian lore. Oddly enough, I'm also reminded of Wildstorm's W.I.L.D.C.A.T.S but that's more to show what a strange person I am rather than any influence on Mr. Ashton.
The premise of the book, loosely, is that the Ashura and Deva have been warring for millions of years on our planet. There's the Good Gods and the Bad Gods except the Good Gods are jackases and the Bad Gods are complete monsters so it's more Neutral Gods and Bad Gods. Virtually every deity in human history is one of the First Born children of Father, the Sky-Father of all mythologies, and most of them have multiple guises among various cultures.
Two times, the Bad Gods have risen, only to get themselves slaughtered but weakened the Neutral Gods significantly until they're now a shadow of their former selves. Oh and Father is senile, frequently going into decades or even centuries-long comas due to being a utterly mad god. In a scene which I suspect is a subtle nod to Kevin Smith's Dogma, a pair of teenagers find Father comatose in an assisted living facility and help rouse him just as the next slaughter is about to begin with the Bad Gods having raised just about everyone in their ranks from the former two wars from the dead while the Neutral Gods remain diminished to the point of uselessness.
I have to say this book was a surprise as I didn't know what to expect within it but was pleasantly surprised to find a deep and coherent mythology built around the concept of an eternal war. All of the deities, many of whom are freakishly deformed despite their great power, are affected by the terrible conflict they've never not known. It's an interesting premise and one which I haven't seen before outside of, ironically, a few cartoons where the characters can be battling for millions of years. This is a serious story, though, with even the most benevolent among the deities considering humans little better than servants and uninteresting. The best of the gods fight for themselves, not mankind, while the worst just consider us food or sport.
I actually found myself more interested in the human characters of the story, Fiona and Zeke, who are a pair of teenagers kinda-sorta in love. There's some nice subversions with their all-too-human story before they get caught up in the conflicts of the gods like the fact Fiona is eager for sex while Zeke is scared. Watching the characters develop and their inevitable power-set emerge was interesting. I also liked how it wasn't a "Chosen One" narrative where one of them suddenly became stronger than the million-year-old beings around them.
The combat is excellent in the book with the clashes between the gods being huge and epic with weird connotations like in the old myths. They don't just fight with swords or guns but legions of dogs, living thunderbolts, and so on. Every surviving god is a seasoned warrior in a manner older than most Earth nations put together but that doesn't mean they don't die, often in surprising or shocking ways. The author isn't afraid to kill his characters and that adds to the brutality of the conflict.
Keeping track of all the players in the conflict was a bit confusing due to the fact all of them have multiple names but I eventually got the hang of it. I also liked how things were set up for sequels in a manner which didn't leave the book feeling too disjointed. I'm anxious to see where the author takes this series and give him my full regards. Grimdark urban fantasy is rare and while I'm not sure this quite qualifies, it's close enough for government work.
First off, I should let you know that the version of Paternus that I read was an early copy with the old cover (I won it in an r/Fantasy charity raffle), so keep in mind that everything I say might not be 100% accurate regarding the current version – hopefully Dyrk can let me know if I mention anything that has since been revised!
Paternus has to be one of the most ambitious debuts I’ve read. I don’t typically read a lot of Urban Fantasy, as I tend to be drawn pretty heavily to secondary worlds, but in this case the use of mythology got me intrigued. The basic premise is that all of the gods and mythological creatures of the world (known here as Firstborn) are real and living amongst us in disguise, locked in an eternal war that rages on while humans sort of blithely go about their lives without really noticing. It would be easy (and obvious) to compare it to American Gods, and while there’s an influence there, Ashton takes it in a different direction and it’s definitely its own thing.
Our main protagonists are Fiona and Zeke, both of whom are hospital workers dealing with everyday problems – they have been on a couple of dates and they’re having those early relationship insecurities, trying to gauge how interested they are in one another and generally being a bit self-conscious. Fi works with an elderly man named Peter at the hospital who is very dependent on his carers and unable to communicate – she’s a nice person who takes her duties seriously, so she goes above and beyond to give him the best care she can. When the hospital is attacked by monsters who seem to want Peter, she and Zeke are the ones who step up to protect him.
What follows is a fast-paced cinematic adventure in which Fi, Zeke and Peter are largely on the run from all manner of fearsome mythical creatures, each of which appear to have been thoroughly researched and imbued with their own personality. Zeke is conveniently a bit of a mythology buff, so he acts as our guide and gives us a little bit of information about each new creature we run into as the larger picture begins to unfold. The mythology is really what drives the story and it’s always lovely when you get to learn a thing or two from reading fiction, so if you have any interest in world religions this is for you. The very cinematic, movie script nature of the novel is unsurprising given that Ashton has worked in the industry, and I think largely it works well but it might not be to everyone’s taste. The pacing is a little muddled in the first third so I’d say it requires a little bit of work from the reader, but past that point it evens out and gets exciting. There’s a strong sense of danger and dread, good chemistry between the characters and some amusing dialogue to keep everything trundling along.
It’s not without a couple of issues, however. Once the action begins, it’s so breathless that the character development doesn’t get much wiggle room. As a result they end up a little patchy in places, and lacking in agency – this latter part makes perfect sense given that these are humans up against inconceivably powerful gods and monsters, but some readers don’t enjoy passive protagonists and that may be a problem for them. There’s also a shift in identity from being a rather relatable human story with some YA elements to being on the more adult side, and flirting with grimdark in its violence and disturbing imagery (the leech, yegods!) so it will require a bit of patience, but that’s to be expected from a novel that is so ambitious both in its scale and ideas. I’d say overall I’m not the target audience (being a secondary world fantasy/character development kinda gal who isn’t usually into action focused novels), but I found it to be well written, engaging and extremely promising. A strong debut, and I’ll be curious to see how the author develops.
There are rules. Paternus breaks them all, because f**k the rules.
"No head hopping". Pfffft, get in the bin. "Don't write in intense present tense". Ugh, boring!
Seriously though, there are things that other authors have tried and failed to do that Dyrk just takes and smashes out of the park. I'm a huge sucker for mythology, ANY mythology, so this all-in, mash-up, chuck-the-rule-book-in-the-sea take on the history, myths and legends of our world is exactly what I didn't know I needed in my life.
I would write more, but I'm too busy reading Paternus: Wrath of the Gods on KU while I wait for the paperback to arrive.