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Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Paean To Myrillia: The Godslayer Chronicles World And Series Analysis w/ An Announcement By James Clemens (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Order Shadowfall HERE
Order Hinterland HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Q&A with James Rollins (James Clemens)

A few weeks ago, Sarah of Bookworm Blues put out a call for unique magic systems that have been devised by authors. Thinking back, the first and foremost name that came to mind was the Godslayer Chronicles by James Clemens. A lot of readers have barely heard of it, since the first book Shadowfall was released in 2005. I happened to be on the lookout for it as I was already a fan of James Clemens after reading his debut series; The Banned And The Banished.

WORLD OVERVIEW & BACKSTORY: What Shadowfall did was, introduce the reader to the wonderfully, dangerous land of Myrillia. The backstory as revealed in the first book goes as such. Nearly four millennia ago, the Gods arrived on Myrillia (from where no one knows exactly). After their appearance for nearly a few hundred years havoc and chaos ruled the land of Myrillia as the Gods (both male and female) went about slaughtering, doing weird shit, reminiscing about their homeland/dimension/planet (?), etc. However one of the Gods named Chrism decided to repent his savagery and fed his own blood into the land. His actions while suicidal had a curious effect as sanity took root and his essence bled into the land making it his domain and ridding all the other Gods from that piece of Myrillia. That lead to the foundation of Chrismferry and thus began the enlightenment that was to follow in several lands of Myrillia. Soon other Gods began to follow Chrism’s example thereby settling in and around various parts of Myrillia giving rise to the nine lands of Myrillia. There are hundred gods that have settled in those nine domains thereby giving rise to various Hinterlands in and around those nine parts as well.

These hinterlands house the raving, rogue Gods who could not find root and thereby remain maddened because of that. These rogues are known to avoid the settled lands as it is anathema to their existence however all the hinterlands are their domains. See the first map (at the very top) to view a solid majority of Myrillia (both settled and hinterlands) topographically. The story then focusses on how the world of man has been shaped by the arrival of the Gods who can be divided in to the four aspects of Air, Fire, Loam and Water. There is a litany that focusses on several body humors of the Gods that help or harm the environment around them. That can be read over here and now that you have been grossed out a little, welcome to the dark and disturbing imagination of James Clemens.

The second intriguing aspect of this world is the way the world has adapted to these Gods. I believe this world and series can be classified as God-Punk for the unique take on how a world would be if an immortal god lived among human beings. The world showcased within is entirely shaped and run by the application of the Godly body fluids. A very perverse but entirely plausible way of creating a world that will disgust and delight the fantasy reader spectrum. Within the first two books the author highlights how such a world might function and also debase itself as seen by the monstrosities and perversions present. As a world-building junkie, I would have loved for the author to explore the minutiae of this world but that would run counter to plot and therefore isn’t entirely the case. The author though has created a language and script for this series called Littick that is the language of the Gods and for those who love puzzles, it will be fun to try to decipher it.

Lastly the author has also littered the story with several observations as well as facts about the world that help in realizing it to be a three dimensional one such as several sayings, games, drugs utilized, etc. So for those readers, who want to read a fascinating story with an ever-intriguing world, be sure to get your hands on the first two volumes of the Godslayer Chronicles and now onto the mini-reviews of both the books:

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: We begin with Shadowfall, the first chronicle of the Godslayer wherein we are introduced to Tylar De Noche, a fallen shadowknight and also a cripple, broken in mind, body and spirit. After some shady dealings in his past, he has had to pay an exorbitant price that has taken a toll on his life, relationship and mental status. He happens to witness something so bizarre that it basically triggers another painful turn of events that will have ramifications all across Myrillia. From here on we are given a look into another POV character, a young girl named Dart who is an orphan and has been bullied all throughout her life. She’s in an orphanage in Chrismferry where an odious attack turns her life upside down and sets her on the path to find out her true heritage. Lastly there’s Kathryn Ser Vail who shares an agonizing connection to Tylar and soon will be pulled into the intrigue and machinations surrounding Tylar.

Why do I love this book and series so much, in two words; FANTASTICAL WORLDBUILDING! From the first chapter, the author quickly and surely immerses the reader in a world that is beyond a doubt one of the most fascination ones created by using Gods. Sure Steven Erikson’s Malazan series does similar things and more but James Clemens makes his books much more accessible than Erikson (though some might complain that his writing is too straight forward). But for most fantasy readers, this world will be like no other they have experienced before. James Clemens is the nom-de-plume for renowned thriller writer James Rollins and as was the case with his adventure thriller books, James always creates memorable setting for his books. Myrillia encompasses a huge chunk of his imagination and further highlights are revealed when the readers are told more about the world via its policing system the Shadowknights. The Shadowknights are an organization to themselves who help the Gods with their lands and also help protect the innocent populace against the ravages of fiends and rogue Gods from the hinterlands. Then there’s the whole aspect of being “a hand to the Gods”, which will be exciting for the readers to discover.

The story basically is a thriller masquerading itself as a dark, epic fantasy. Beginning from the prologue and first chapter one, things are constantly cascading towards the impressive climax. Things of course are bit more clearcut with Tylar but with the other POV characters, the author takes some myriad turns. Also one more thing about this story is that it is vehemently dark, what I mean about that is that both male and female characters face the threat of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. For those who can’t stand violence or rape scenes please be forewarned this book has one that which while not gratuitous, will cause uncomfortableness that I believe is the intent of the author.

Lastly once you finish Shadowfall, you’ll be hard-pressed to seek out the sequel Hinterland as the amount of secrets and plot twists that are revealed in the first volume make the second volume a must read. Dark, imaginative and disturbing are the three words that come to my mind when I think about Shadowfall and as far as adjectives go, these are great ones to describe a series that seriously defines the “God-Punk” subgenre and is critically unknown among fantasy fandom.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: With Hinterland, we are once again thrust in to the malevolent and shaky world of Myrillia, wherein Gods, humans and monsters strive to achieve a balance. This book is set nearly a year after the horrific and world-shattering events of Shadowfall. The Gods now know that Tylar Ser Noche is the genuine article and his previous title as Godslayer is far from the lie they believed it to be.

With this book, we gain a new map (see 2nd map above) as well as a new POV character. Brant was last seen in the last book and he made a strong but fleeting impression on Dart. In this volume we get to know all about his past and how it might tie into all the curious happenings so far. He comes from Saysh Mal in the Eighth land and the Huntress is the God who rules it with an even but firm hand. Laurelle is another handmaiden and a friend to Dart who gets a POV turn with this book. Tylar, Dart and Kathryn have all been shaken by past events however stand firm against adversity and are now connected to each other. The events of this book will bring all of these POV characters in a swirling miasma of betrayal, politics and death that shall reveal a lot more behind the secrets of the Gods. With the sequel, the author takes a step further and gives us another sideway glimpse into the world beyond Myrillia, there are a few more revelations about the nature of the world, Rivenscryr and a few Gods.

The second volume takes a similar route as the first one by having several characters in different situations that narrow down to an action-packed climax. But with difference being that there are two major theaters of action, the first story is focussed upon Tashijan, the headquarters of the Shadowknights and the second is within Saysh Mal and the hinterlands beside it. We see more of the Cabal as well as the Wyr and we get a rather strange inkling about the Gods and the relationships they had prior to their arrival on Myrillia. The ending while a twisted one fails to match the colossal impact of its predecessor but the epilogue of this volume is a game-changer and gives us a very strong clue about what will be coming up next in the third volume which is tentatively titled God-Sword.

SERIES ANNOUNCEMENT: However since 2006, the series fell off the publishing wagon for reasons that were never clarified by the author or the publishers. However recently I had been in communication with the author and he has confirmed that the Godslayer Chronicles will be re-released soon with each book coming out at seven-eight month intervals. The third book has been written and is complete while the author is busy on the fourth. This series is set to run for six volumes only and so if you love dark fantasy, epic storylines and fantastical worlds, The Godslayer Chronicles will be a must read!


UPDATE (05/12/2014): After recent correspondence with Jim, he has revealed that now the Godslayer Chronicles will be five books in total. The original plan was to finish the first arc with God-Sword (book III) and then continue with another trilogy with most of the characters set in the same world. Now due to the publisher's request, the latter trilogy has been combined into two big books. So now the Godslayer Chronicles will be a Pentalogy similar to his debut series. Jim has completed book III and is currently 50-pages into book IV. The current plan is when Jim is in the finishing stages for book V, the publishers will begin the official relaunch.

At this stage however when that announcement will come is looking a bit dicey. Jim is writing his fantasy series as well as his YA series (Jake Ransom series) along with his contracted Rollins thrillers. This makes his writing speed a bit slower than what it was earlier in the last decade when he was releasing a Clemens and a Rollins book within the same year. So as of now based on what Jim has revealed and what I can extrapolate about his writing style and speed. The earliest this announcement can come looks to be in 2016 barring any unforeseen hindrances and this is entirely my informed guess. I would love to be proved wrong by Jim & have him give us an official announcement next year. But that looks a little sketchy at the moment. Rest assured, if there's any change in plans, I'll be adding another update here.

NOTE: Both maps courtesy of James Clemens.


Anonymous said...

Woo Hoo! I never got into the Wi'tch series but loved Godslayer series. Thank you for passing the news on. So looking forward to book three. Now I just have to find which shelf I stuffed volumes of series I thought were dead without fully arriving as it were

RobB said...

I'll be on the lookout for this. Will ROC be the publisher or has James switched publishers?

Nayan said...

At long last....this announcement reaffirms my belief in God :-) this has been an answer to my really long time.

The Reader said...

@ Anon.

Hopefully there will be an official announcement with lots of details.


The Reader said...

@ Rob

I'm not entirely sure but I'm trying to find out more about this.


The Reader said...

@ Nayan

Looks like we'll be able to get our hands on the long-awaited third volume soon enough :)


JRVogt said...

This is a series I read and greatly enjoyed as well, years ago. I was always saddened that it ended with Hinterlands, and keep checking back to see if it ever gets resurrected. Thanks for spreading awareness of it!

The Reader said...

@ Josh,

Glad to spread the news man :)


ricky shorter said...

Hi, hopefully you'll see this, three months after this article was written!
Did you ever find out any more details on this? My own searches have only led me here.

Anonymous said...

Hope this is true. Read the first two to my disabled daughter and they held her interest enough to pull her partly out of her depression. Hoping the same proves true with as many sequels as James cares to write. Grey Lens.

The Reader said...

@Ricky S.

I've gotten a few extra details but Jim has asked me not to reveal them at this moment. Plus his Clemens website has been revamped recently so that must mean that more announcements are on the way.


The Reader said...

@Anon./Grey Lens

This is true as far as what Jim has mentioned to me. Any further news that I find, will definitely be posted over here.


Ellen Claesen said...

Hopefully it will be released soon, i really liked the first 2 books and i have been waiting a long time for this.
Any ideas on the date yet?

Scott Drummond said...

Do we have any update on this? I have been waiting for this news for a long time and cant wait to see what happens next.

lesh said...

Me waiting is still.

Silverstormm said...

Any more news? Been awaiting GSCIII for a longgggg time now...

Nayan said...

Would love for an update from Jim on this one

Anonymous said...

Hi, is there an update on book 3?
Would love to hear something about it.

Anonymous said...

I too am wondering if there are any recent updates...

Anonymous said...

Update! Please?

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