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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Black God's War by Moses Siregar (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Read an excerpt HERE 
Order the book HERE 
Get the FREE Novella (first fifteen chapters) HERE (Kindle) and HERE (Smashwords)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Moses Siregar is the third of his name. As a child he was fascinated by Robotech the anime series that lighted a passion in him for epic fiction. He has since then striven to hone his writing skills via various non-fiction writer stints. He has also indulged in podcasting over at the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing and guest blogged over at Grasping for the Wind. He lives with his loving family in Arizona and this is his debut. 

OFFICIAL BLURB: Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One. 

Her father-king wants war.  Her messianic brother wants peace.  The black god wants his due.  She suffers all the consequences. 

King Vieri is losing his war against the lands of Pawelon. Feeling abandoned by his god, he forces his son Caio, the kingdom's holy savior, to lead his army. Victory ought to come soon. 

To counter Caio's powers, Pawelon's prince enters the war. Rao is a gifted sage, a master of spiritual laws. He joins the rajah to defend their citadel against the invaders. But Rao's ideals soon clash with his army's general. 

The Black One tortures Lucia nightly with visions promising another ten years of bloodshed. She can no longer tell the difference between the waking world and her nightmares. Lucia knows the black god too well. He entered her bed and dreams when she was ten. 

The Black One watches, waiting to see Lucia confront an impossible decision over the fates of two men--and two lands. 

CLASSIFICATION: The Black God’s War is an epic fantasy book set in a medieval world featuring nations that are facsimiles to Greece and India; the prose style and world settings of the story seem to be a cross between Brandon Sanderson and Kate Elliott

FORMAT/INFO: The Black God’s War is 382 pages long divided over eighty-five numbered and titled chapters. Narration is in the third person via many different characters such as Caio, Rao, Lucia, Narayani, Ilario, Aayu, Devak, Indrajit and a few other minor characters as well. There is an Acknowledgments section, an Afterword page and a map showing the regions mentioned in the book. This is a standalone story. 

July 31, 2011 marked the Trade paperback and e-book publication of The Black God’s War and it was self-published by the author. 

ANALYSIS: The Black God’s War is an Indie debut that has slowly gained a multitude of reviews and heaps of praise since its release last year. The author had contacted us for a review request and I was very intrigued by its blurb to not give it a try. The book was originally released as a novella that contained the first fifteen chapters and the novella is still free for those interested in giving it a shot. 

The blurb details two nations at war. The Eastern kingdom of Rezzia is ruled by its kings and a theology that involves ten Gods. They are awaiting the birth of a special child who is prophesied and is titled “Haizzem” whose birth will herald the nation’s ascent in the war and finally lead them into victory over the western nation of Pawelon. The main story deals with the two protagonists who are the princes of each nation and who are tasked with resolving the crisis facing their nations. Rao is the Pawelonian prince who has acquired a reasonable command of his “Sadhna” or magical prowess. Caio is the Haizzem prince who has his magical powers and the blessings of the ten Gods to contend with. Lucia is Caio’s elder sister and the one person who understand the enormous pressure on him. She however has bigger problems as one of the Ten, Lord Donato the Black One seems to be hell bent on punishing her for reasons hitherto unknown. It will however be up to these three individuals to figure out their destiny and possibly save their nation. 

Moses Siregar’s debut is a much nuanced one, it basically focuses on a war between two nations that are analogues for Greece and India but the actual story is focused via the individual characters. The story has many strong features beginning with its characterization; which is such a strong facet of the story that makes it that much more of an engrossing read. We get narrative threads from both sides of the field and from both major and minor characters. This gives us a fully three dimensional view into the happenings on the field of war and off it. Not only with Rao & Caio but also with Lucia and Narayani, Moses shows his versatility in showing characters from different social and marital backgrounds as well as gender. The characters are what emphatically power the story and the readers will be strongly enticed to discover what each and every one of them truly wants. 

The world and back history is quite vast and makes for an intriguing read. Originally this was supposed to be the first book in a trilogy but the author has recently revealed that this is a standalone book and will serve as a prequel to the upcoming trilogy. The book perhaps takes a while to get into the meat of the story but the author wonderfully utilizes the time to build up the story via the world and its back-story. One thing that I liked a lot about the story was how the author used two of the oldest civilizations and then created dual facsimile nations that share a border and are at war for theological and political reasons. These nations have their own theology which point towards Greek & Buddhist mythological roots and this was a very cool thing to read about. Another plus point of the story is the tight focus provided by the author who narrows the narrative lens to the characters throughout the story and thereby maintains a very intimate view of the events. 

The prose is another highlight of this story as not only does the author vividly describe each nation and its practices, he does it with aplomb and while he draws upon real world influences. He gives enough originality to his creations to distinguish them from the real-world counterparts. As a reader it’s always great to see something other than the pseudo-European medieval landscape and in this case, Moses hits a double whammy with his world-building skills. Lastly the story heads to a strong climax a la Kane and Abel however the end twist is something that will be hard to predict. 

The story however loses some points because of its lackluster pace in the first half of the story, while the eventual plot is being set up and the characters are introduced. This setup is very reminiscent of Brandon Sanderson’s books wherein the book gains pace slowly and surely. The author also doesn't quite convincingly explain many parts about the back history of the world. Perhaps this was done purposefully as originally this book was supposed to be a part of trilogy and therefore the author would have had further unveiled the world in the future books. This partial non-disclosure however might not go down all too well with some readers. Overall however the negatives are few and are decidedly overshadowed by the positives. 

CONCLUSION: Moses Siregar has written a debut that showcases talent and a desire to tell stories that are epic in scope and also incite wonderment. Give this Indie debut a try as it’s one of those that heralds the debut of a talented author, who hopefully will continue to enthrall his readers for a long, long time.


Anonymous said...

Wow That was a great read, really enjoyed the book....


Dave said...

Glad to see this book getting some publicity here. There are some indie novels that really do deserve to be popular but they're had to find as amazon reviews seem untrustworthy these days...

Rick Robinson said...

I don't think the adjective "epic" means anything any more, it's become one of those placeholder words.

Moses Siregar III said...

I know what you mean, Richard. The things I've written so far fit the ancient meaning of an epic (more like Homer than Tolkien, let's say). Some people don't consider this book "epic fantasy" because it's not big enough--it's just over 120K words.

This book is an experiment in trying to write a tightly paced standalone fantasy that feels like an epic fantasy more so than a heroic fantasy. Now I'm working on a trilogy that follows The Black God's War, and that will definitely give me a bigger canvas to paint on. So far I'm really enjoying the challenge of that, although it's challenging to write a tight standalone epic, too. Either way, Mihir is right, I do like my stories to feel big. :-)

The Reader said...

@ Dave

Sadly that's very true, right now I crosscheck Amazon reviews with GR to be sure.

@ Richard

It has but it still is true in cases of Anthony Ryan, Moses Siregar & Brandon Sanderson to name a few ;)

@ Moses

I'm now awaiting the sequel trilogy, I want to know more about the world within :)

Charlie N. Holmberg said...

You know, I really loved the idea behind this book when I picked it up, but I have to disagree with you on the prose. I didn't think it was very strong, and the characters' emotions were weak. I put it down after a few chapters, though I thought the plot, at least, had promise.

M R Mathias said...

It was an entertaining read. I think I reviewed it at B&N a while back.


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