Acclaimed author Sam Sykes returns with the exhilarating conclusion to his Bring Down Heaven series.
The great demon Khoth-Kapira has broken free of his prison and taken his first steps upon the mortal world. And he owes it all to Lenk. Believing that the demon will mend a broken world that the gods have ignored, Lenk serves as a reluctant champion to Khoth-Kapira's cause. But as the desperate and fearful flock to Khoth-Kapira's banner, begging for salvation, Lenk begins to doubt his patron's good intentions.
The city of Cier'Djaal, meanwhile, has become the battlefield for the last great war. And as the mortal races prepare to tear each other apart, none are aware of the march of the great demon who comes to tame them.
At the tip of a spear or beneath the heel of demons, the reign of mortals ends.
Sam Sykes is the author of Tome Of The Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. Suspected by many to be at least tangentially related to most causes of human suffering, Sam Sykes is also a force to be reckoned with beyond literature.
At 25, Sykes is one of the younger authors to have arrived on the stage of literary fantasy. Tome Of The Undergates is his first book, published in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland, and Canada. He currently resides in the United States and is probably watching you read this right now.
I'm a big fan of Sam Sykes and his twitter presence. I've enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy and was excited to finally get this book. There are three things I expect from a Sykes book: 1. Sword fights 2. Tender smooches 3. Elf butts
There were a slew of sword fights, on against a giant demon, and all of them were clothed. Sykes has previously tackled naked sword fights, so it was good to see him move in a new direction. But the sword fights weren't even the best part this time, and not just b/c the characters were wearing clothes. He put in an awesome wizard fight. You could practically smell the burnt flesh and ozone as lightning bolts ripped apart combatants. There was also a great battle scene with a phalanx defense that would make Myke Cole jealous.
The smooches in this book were some of the tenderest. Lenk, who has been fairly slow to learn throughout the series, really developed in this book. That's probably why he had pants on during his sword fights. His relationship with Kataria was really fleshed out and believable. They aren't a happy couple but they're working on it between giant demon attacks and I think things look good for those two kids. Even Asper gets a sword fight in this book. Which makes sense b/c she really is a major focus of the plot line.
You may be asking if were there elf butts? There were hella elf butts.
I like Sykes's focus on characters. There's a decent amount of world building but I think it's kept to the proper limit so you can really focus on the characters and how they fumble throughout the story. The magic system is described enough so you know it's not some fix all deus ex machina device that's going to rear up and save the day, but you get to focus on the wizards and what kind of people they are. BTW, they're awful, awful people. My only real criticism is that the cast was a little too big so some characters didn't get as much attention as I would like. I mean Dreadaeleon didn't get enough attention. He's a total dick and a real piece of magic spewing garbage but he's my favorite and I worry what this says about me.
It's an art to create a world with characters you miss when you close the book. And this is as I feel now. Sam Sykes is definitely my best discovery this year and I think I am about to read everything he creates.
His books are mostly about characters. There's world out there and there's plot, but protagonists dominate above it all - and it's good. They are strong, but they are also very flawed and not once lose the battle with their weaknesses.
Sam Syke's prose doesn't disappoint. He writes a really long books but somehow his words don't bore me at all and it happens often in other long volumes.
The end of this trilogy was satisfying. It wasn't perfect, but there was a lot to like about it. I'm glad that I still have an earlier trilogy to read and see how it all started. I'm looking forward next Sal The Cacophony book, but if Sykes decides to return to this world, I definitely reach for that kind of novel.
The last book in the trilogy, though it doesn't feel like the book was successful in giving a proper closure to the story. The ending was rather anti-climactic. It is the only shortcoming I had after completing it. As usual there is a ton of action, bloodshed, and magical mayhem along with a giant demon coming to enslave(?) all. Everything converges for a final battle in the city of Cier-Djall. This is a book rife with tension and violence, and the story is devastatingly grim and bleak.
The great demon Khoth Kapira is released and now walks in the world, and Lenk acts as his reluctant champion with the hope of a better world without war, disease, and poverty. Meanwhile, the Shicts are coming to war with a millions strong army destroying everything in their path. The Tulwar are amassing outside Cier Djall and preparing to ransack the city with full force. The city itself is fragmented with Sainites and Karnerians battling, the Jackals and Khovura tearing each others throats, the wizards killing each other in a coup-de-grace, and Asper trying to unite them as a prophet to prepare for the war that is coming. Everything is fucked up pretty bad here, and the picture that Sykes depicts is pretty depressing.
The characters are all messed-up with their own issues. Gariath is one hell of a blood-thirsty brute. The tulwars appoint him as their leader of war, and the only one able to keep him in check is the disgraced Mototaru. Kataria also suffer from emotional conflict, torn between her feelings for Lenk and Kwar. Dreadelon is captured and later released by the wizards machinations, and undergoes a terrible change realizing the cost of power. All these characters confront each other battling their own issues and personal demons. All of them are caught up in the war, and tries to be good or of use in some way.
Khoth Kapira is a deeply complicated character, and though a demon bent on control, his overtures for a balanced world is more rational than the others. I was hoping that Sykes would elaborate more on Qulon and Mundas, and the Renouncers, but they were left pretty vague in my opinion. This a book about characters, and the events surrounding the story is based upon the choices and decisions the characters make. While, the ending is left open and unresolved it also work in a certain way, for the characters learn to accept themselves for who they are. I hope that Sykes comes back to the series some other time.
Tough to rate, because it's wonderfully written, occasionally even inspiring, but there's so much goddamn angst. The thing is that I can't tell if it's just the news lately that makes me sick of that sense of helplessness in the face of disaster/tragedy, or if it's unpleasant on its own... Reviews are hard.
-The story is occasionally epic in scope, and even though I typically prefer character-focused stories, the zoomed-out looks at the hugely varied cultures, the People rather than the Persons, are easily the best parts of the book. You see people from vastly different walks of life, all of whom are convinced that their way is the most correct, and by the end of their section you end up agreeing... until perspective moves to the next culture over and you become convinced of THEIR innate rightness instead. No one is portrayed as wrong, and everyone has a good, believable reason for why they think their culture is best. I've never seen a story that portrayed a conflict with this many sides that had me rooting for each of them to succeed at some point or another.
-The central adventuring group has great banter between themselves, and you can really feel the history they have. There's a very tangible sense of development throughout the trilogy and it's fascinating to look back and see how far they've come.
-...Okay, the angst. I gotta address this. Every character wastes too much time sitting around and going "oh nooo I fucked it all up, I wish I had done things differently, life is unfair." Sometimes there are entire paragraphs of this. Sometimes entire PAGES. There were times where I had to backtrack because I realized I had glossed over an important plot point because it was hidden in the midst of woe-is-me tearwanking.
But despite all this, it's a satisfying end to a satisfying trilogy, and I would easily recommend it.
I enjoyed this trilogy, discovering a talented new writer, is always pleasing. The cast of characters was tight, the barbs traded genuinely funny, and relationships were intense. The world building inventive and creative, the action was violent, encompassing, and at times brutal. The story progressed, however, it dragged in some places as well. Sam Sykes talent carried my interest and imagination, which caused me to continue on and I am glad I did. The intensity of the relationships between characters, were a definite highlight for me, and I feel a strength of this authors writing talent. The future looks promising for Sam Sykes and I look forward to reading more of his work.
Usually when I finish a book, I can draw conclusions and thoughts pretty quickly. With the Bring Down Heaven series, things aren't so simple. These books work very contrary to expectations I've created for how fantasy should be and this is a good thing. Character motivations are not simple and often contradictory, but never in a way that doesn't make sense. If I had to describe these books with 3 words, they would be chaotic, violent, beautiful. And maybe throw in frequently hilarious. I'll try to do a full review for this later, once I figure out how to actually word one. But... read these books. So so so good.
Could barely make it through the last hundred pages or so. Really lost interest in pretty much all the characters. Also, once . Yeah, all the characters are still unlikable which is fine in the first book, but becomes really grating after several thousand pages. You start to side with the demons who want to end the world.
Firstly, I will begin by saying that the Bring Down Heaven trilogy has been an anchor to me since I discovered these books around September 2017. Sykes has a gift for spinning unique tales about unexpected characters. His writing is punchy yet gentle, and even in the midst of heated fight scenes, genuinely poignant and striking thoughts can come from his characters.
Sam’s work has been a delight to have found and is one of the few book series I’ve had the pleasure of reading that has left me speechless by the end. In some cases of reading either a series or trilogy, there can be a risk that perhaps some books are not as good as the first or the ending can be a little disappointing, but in Sam Sykes’ case that is not true. I hesitated to read God’s Last Breath because I simply did not want this world and these characters to end; I knew it was going to be hard for me to say goodbye. Now, having finished it, I hesitated to post this review out of fear I wouldn’t do the book justice.
Allow me to try.
Picking up where The Mortal Tally left off, God’s Last Breath takes on and explores the consequences of Lenk’s unleashing the captive God-King Khoth-Kapira unto the world. For the other characters – Kataria, Gariath, Dreadaleon, and Asper – they must also face the mistakes and aftermath of difficulties they confronted in both The City Stained Red, and The Mortal Tally. Finally and completely separated from one another at the start of the book, they reflect upon their actions and further grow as people; adding onto the transitioning instigated from Book One. A particularly delightful aspect about each character in this trilogy is that each has their own distinct voice, manner of speech, and thought. If their name could be omitted or removed from a chapter, it would still be clear who’s perspective was being read, so strong are their mannerisms. Love and so much crafting clearly went into these characters and as such, each has left a distinct impression upon me.
What makes Sykes’ work such an enjoyable experience is that the characters are not heroes, not in the typical sense. They are not selfless or noble or believe in a greater good. As Chapter Twenty-Five’s title so succinctly puts it, “Heroism, but for assholes”. These elements of selfishness, self-preservation, and thoughtlessness are what grounds all the characters in a sense of tangibility. They are real because they have faults, their actions are believable and take the plot into interesting places or situations – they do not fool themselves by thinking they are the hero and have been all along. They are heroes of necessity. Not wanted, but needed, however unfortunate that may be for them. A stark parallel drawn to this in Asper’s speech in which she states, “Heaven demands champions”, just as the story of the books demand heroes to step up, regardless of how reluctant they might be.
God’s Last Breath was as much of an emotional ride as I hoped it would be. It’s always hard to say goodbye to characters we have come to love but this novel is one of the few that left me feeling an aching sense of loss by the last page. I read this trilogy during a rough patch in my life and it was a lifeline for a time to get lost in the story. These books have brought me joy, new friends, and new tattoos inspired by it. They became such a big part of my life and I know I'll revisit them again and again, over and over, until their spines break.
They deserve such love and recognition in the fantasy literature community as a breath of fresh air into the genre. Sam works so hard on his books and it's clear from both the books themselves and his twitter that he is passionate about the worlds and stories he creates. He has become an inspiration to me in my own pursuit of fantasy writing and a friend who'll talk to me about dogs, memes, and his books on twitter.
I will honestly miss these characters dearly unless Sam writes about them again and I sincerely hope that one day he does choose to revisit the setting. All I can honestly say is thank you to Sam for the happiness the Bring Down Heaven trilogy brought me this past year and that I’m immensely looking forward to reading An Affinity for Steel whilst waiting for Seven Blades in Black.
I'm not going to lie. I hated many of the characters at the start of Black Halo for their choices, their thoughts and views. But this story was just that well-written. They were all written from perspectives that many people have even in our world, and we were gifted the luxury of third-person viewing which illuminated many faults. I will admit that Dreadaeleon surviving was infuriating as his character I loathed the most, however, the ending was quite satisfying. Nothing is more enraging that having a character who has both a superiority complex as well as an inferiority complex and access to powerful magic to boot.
Gariath finally learned the lesson that he was learning since Black Halo and would use it to help the tulwar, although I was still saddened that it seemed to be the end of both the Rhega and the Drohga now. The various races were quite creative and I did enjoy learning about them.
It is a bittersweet ending when the team finally understands how to cooperate and get along within the final moments to face down Khoth-Kapira, just to have them split and go their separate ways. Sort of like Nanny McPhee where I guess they only needed to be with each other until they realized they did not.
I used to be so angry with Asper in Black Halo for being weak and falling down crying in every fight, but I must say, I do miss that a bit. I won't lie that her character development was incredible and she was revealed to be strong on the battlefield without her arm but she was still trying to heal. Unfortunately, war does that.
I will admit that the battle (does it even count as that) between Khoth-Khapira and the grey-haired warriors was anti-climatic considering their pumped importance as 'demon-slayers'/paladins (?) across the two series. But the focus back onto the mortal armies did put more emphasis on fixing issues yourself rather than relying on a god's power which I felt was a valuable lesson given to these characters.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading this book as the conclusion to the series. It was planned out and many of the horrors involving wars, genocide, drug abuse and moral ethics were addressed in a fantasy setting. The characters have resolved endings but the ends are not tied tight enough so as to not give the reader the wisp that there is more to their stories. The worldbuilding was amazing and was written well enough that the reader can build it for themselves. I would (and have) recommended this series to others.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
When I first started Sykes's Bring Down Heaven trilogy, I had just come off of a bad streak of reading books I wish I had never picked up. I was bummed out and feeling very distant from the fantasy genre--a genre that had inspired so much of my childhood and continues to inspire me to this day. Then one night, I made the (unbeknownst-to-me-then) fateful decision to buy The City Stained Red.
After reading TCSR, I compared the experience to the idea of returning home and visiting and old restaurant you loved after tasting so many others that didn't quite work. It was a breath of fresh air. And that idea of rediscovering something you love(d) never left through the experience of reading this trilogy.
By the time I reached God's Last Breath, I had found so much love, sadness, anger, and everything inbetween with the characters' journeys. I don't know the last time I read one novel (let alone THREE!!) where every character mattered as much as the characters in this trilogy. Sykes has a way of giving you many reasons to invest in each character his world brings into view. Regardless of whether these characters were protagonists or antagonists, I found myself empathetic to their desires.
Every action taken was true to each character's motives and desires. Sykes's plot is character-driven and emotionally compelling. The Big Reveals were stunning, and nothing felt forced or unneeded. Every word I read reminded me how new these concepts were for me.
By the end of the novel, I felt like the journey had come to an understandable close--though I was far from ready to say goodbye. I spent nearly six months and 1,800 pages spending my sleepless nights, work breaks, lunches, and whatever other spare moments I could find by these characters' sides. I hope I never forget these rag-tag adventurers, for they have impacted me in ways I never expected.
I have a few thoughts about this one that I'll list in no particular order: 1) Throughout the series, characters (particularly bad guys) like to wax poetic and ramble on about philosophical things. That was getting tedious. Then, suddenly in this book, other characters start telling them to shut up. Lenk, in particular, no longer bothers listening to these rambling monologues, and he often calls out the characters making them. I loved that. 2) The middle of the book was a bit of a slog for me. I don't know why, since that section was the build-up to a massive battle, and the then battle itself. 3) The battle mentioned in #2 is a truly horrific thing. It's a big, nasty, world-changing mess. It's amazing. 4) This book doesn't have anything even approaching a happy ending. That would disappoint me, but in this series it really works. 5) Everything that happens after the major battle is freaking awesome. I was able to fly through the last few chapters and enjoy ever word of them.
So, now that I've finished this trilogy, what do I think? It's awesome. It may not be for everyone, and I probably would have enjoyed it more if I could have read them faster, but it was very well-written, with awesome characters and I'd be happy to read it again.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
What a great trilogy! An interesting fact is that I didn't realized there was a previous trilogy with the same characters, but it in any way rindered my reading of God's Last Breath. Actually, I kind of liked the way they talked about the past without being too specific, it really made them seem like real people. And Rhega. I can't understand the low ratings the books in the series have here, they are really good, the characters are some fucked up, interesting and entertaining creatures. I really liked, hated, cheered and really desired them to die horrible, horrible deaths. The stoy in itself is not something new, but it's well written, I didn't note any big holes in it. The races of some of the secondary characters are really different, would love a trilogy with the main characters being a tulwar, a vulgore, and a couthi. The fights are great, really well described, they are that kind that you would love to see in a movie, because you already picture them like a movie scene. All in all the series deserve more attention and praise, all hail The Prophet!
The last in the Bring Down Heaven Series, our adventurers definitely have a superhero complex. Each, working through their separate story line, feels they must be the one to save a race, a city, a person. Their struggles, both physical and deeply emotional, are the back bone of this novel. Sykes does a wonderful job exploring the depth of each of our adventurers and knitting everything back together in a satisfying conclusion to the series.
There is plenty of action ranging from demons to wizards, elf-like archers to sword wielding infantry, and a little bit of stomping. It’s refreshing to have broken and real characters, experience their follies and achievements, and have that all wrapped in a well written interesting world. I hate and love them all. The gods are watching you - will you behave as expected?
No holds barred in this one. Lenk finally gets some answers even though it’s not what he would have liked. Khoth Kapira, owner of that annoying voice he’s had in his head all this time is finally in the world and revealed in all his glory. Maybe not quite the right description and it’s all down to Lenk. Brutal , nothing going right. The erstwhile comrades are all split up, one of them mostly dead. The other gods are conspicuous by their absence and not helping at all. There is fighting, blood, lots of it in fact and destruction everywhere. Humans, Shicts and Tulwars all fighting each other and Lenk is trying to do the right thing before what looks like the end of everything. Great characters, flawed though they are. Sam Sykes breathes life into them even as the god breathes his last breath. What next? Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Honestly, this is at least a 4 star book. But the narrator killed it for me, as he sounded like he was reading a children's book. So the juxtaposition between his voice and the words he was reading just clashed, like Winnie the Pooh going "I've got one arm broken but that leaves me three good limbs to shove up your ass." Like, wtf. Add to that his "voices" and the fact that he'd read something in a rush that "so-n-so said slowly" and you have a recipe for annoying listening. It's like he didn't even read what he was saying. You might as well have Siri reading it to you.
Narrator aside, when I could tune him out and just listen to the words, it's still Sam Sykes kicking ass and taking names. Funny, heartrending, brutal, and hopeful by turns, Sykes never fails to entertain. But apparently his publisher can't pick a good narrator. O.o
It starts out small and starts building into something bigger and bigger and you cannot look away. This story is compelling and I cannot help but continue to read. Here in this final novel of the trilogy all of the conflicts come to a head and the main characters come crashing into each other.
The developments in this final novel are consistently surprising. Furthermore, the sense of humor that Mr. Sykes has stays present all the way to the end.
Unfortunately, this is the final novel and while I thoroughly enjoyed the story and all of its characters I felt that not enough of the conflicts ended. Even after the story ended, I felt that many characters had not finished their arc or not enough of the problems plaguing the characters were satisfyingly ended.
A fitting end for the series, though one that doesn't picks up every thread... Because the story isn't really over. Regardless, there is a lot of interesting things going on. A war is fought, a god is slain, people get transformed into horrible abominations and a couple of lovers decide to try harder. Also, Lenk gets most of his shit together, but not soon enough.
After much thought I decided that the reason I'm denying this book 5 stars is because it doesn't really ends. It's not like it ends in a cliffhanger, more like the sense of looming doom you'd get from watching an armada approaching from the coast. But it's not a proper end and I've anxieties (which is why I mostly don't deal with ongoing grimdark series: my heart can't take it), so I'll dock it a star in revenge.
This is the great conclusion of the Bring Down Heaven trilogy. I loved it. At the end of book two, the characters were scattered to the wind and it looked like there was no way for them to ever have closure in a meaningful way with each other. Sam skillfully managed to do this. His characters grew in unexpected way, where one was full of hubris at the beginning of the trilogy and thoughtless to other people's emotions, they became much more empathetic. Another character may have felt helpless, but was able to rally people to their cause in a manner that would have felt absurd if it was told that after starting the first book. Sam made these transitions feel authentic and earned.
This book did a fantastic job closing the series which I loved from beginning to end.
I'm always hesitant to start a new epic fantasy series for fear I'll be disappointed. But like Brian Staveley's Emperor's Blades series, Sam Sykes latest trilogy grabs you from the beginning, teaches you, bashes you about the face and neck, yanks the tears out of your eyes, pats you on the butt, and sends you on your way. Just when you think you've heard ever new race, you get the dragonmen. Just when you think you know about gods and magic, you get Asper and Dread. And just when you think you'll get a "hero" or an "anti-hero", you get Lenk. Katarina and romance top off a dish best served as soon as possible. Do yourself a favor and read this series.
I've decided that I don't really care what direction Sam Sykes takes his stories, so long as I get to spend more time with the generally lovable band of rogues we first met in Tome of the Undergates. That and his amazing grasp on dialogue and descriptions, which are consistently hilarious.
God's Last Breath is the final book of the Bring Down Heaven trilogy and I really think it was a great way to end the series. Sykes finally ties together all of his characters' tales in one huge and bloody conclusion and I was entertained from start to finish. I daresay this is not the last we'll hear from Lenk and company, but this is definitely a good enough ending for now.
While I was reading this book at a Barnes and Noble one of Sam Sykes friends came up and asked to take my picture. Apparently they have a joke that no one reads his books so she was taking a picture to prove otherwise.
Don’t worry Sam. People do read your books. I mean it was a library book so I didn’t necessarily give you money... but I still read it! It was an enjoyable read so keep up with your writing!
The ending was left very open. I guess the intention is continue with these characters in another series. I admit I am disappointed that there wasn't more resolution between the characters. It felt like they were in constant turmoil. This was likely the author's intention, but not my favorite character arcs. But the way he writes, the conveying of emotion keeps me hooked despite my disappointment in the characters.
An epic conclusion to an epic fantasy series. There is some pretty intense action and end-of-the-world vibes in this book. Combined with the excellent cast of characters and an interesting setting, this makes for an enjoyable ride for fans of the genre. Sykes has made a very neat, character-driven trilogy that is sure to delight.
The Bring Down Heaven Trilogy is a wonderful romp through a fantasy world with some deeply flawed characters, that ends up examining some core facets of the human condition. One of the most fun trilogies I have read in a while and it is clear that Sam Sykes is having as much fun as you are. I would highly recommend the trilogy if you enjoy comedic fantasy and even if you don't, I would recommend giving it a go.
I'm not sure I've read a fantasy trilogy where the world was in WORSE shape at the end than when it started (though I guess that's a matter of character perspective) This is certainly some of the messiest stuff I've ever read, but in a really good way. All the characters felt unique and real and were total disasters. It doesn't give any neat storybook endings, and could spawn an endless saga of drama and death and war. But I think that's the point.
God's Last Breath is the final book in Sam Sykes Bring Down Heaven trilogy bringing to an end the story of Lenk and his... friends is a strong word... umm... collection of people who work together sometimes. They are brilliantly flawed and, while the world they inhabit is unique and the action scene frenetic and fun, it is the characters that make this book so enjoyable.
The first two books had a colourful world that was jam-packed with action, drama, giant demons and epic battles. While all of that is also present and correct in God's Last Breath, it almost feels like a side dish to the main course, that is the conflict between the main characters. While this is done in a lot of books I've never seen it done to this level and friends fighting friends makes for great reading.
The best compliment I can give the book is that the closer I got to the end, the more I rationed how much I was reading in one go. I didn't want the book to finish and my journey with Lenk and his band of misfits to end.
A pretty good end for the series although unfortunately I just never really got into any of the characters other than Lenk and Kataria which is really what stopped me from giving any of the books more than 3 stars since they are just so long and I only really like 1/3 of the main characters [although the thief guy and the wizard fuckboy are honestly barely in this one]. Still glad I read them because I do really like Lenk and Kataria but the rest of it is kind of a lot to get through at times. This one definitely felt like it had a better pace than the second one though.