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Friday, November 11, 2022

A Gamble Of Gods by Mitriel Faywood (reviewed by Lena & Mihir Wanchoo)


Order A Gamble Of Gods over HERE
OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Mitriel Faywood was taught to read by her great-grandmother, using fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hungarian folklore, turning her into an avid reader by the age of five. Some of her early favourites included J. R. R. Tolkien, Alexandre Dumas, Arthur Conan Doyle and Stephen King.

Despite showing a considerable talent for writing as a teenager and being tipped to become an author by some of her teachers, she gave up on the craft early on and thought she’d never write again. That was until a twist of fate led her to become the beta-reader of her favourite author, Mark Lawrence, in 2014, who re-ignited her love of stories and her interest in telling them.

Mitriel lives in London, where she works in the music industry. A Gamble Of Gods is her debut.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Kristian del Rosso has led a quiet life, burying himself in research and teaching at the University of St Mark. The arrival of a mysterious killer with supernatural abilities and the bloody massacre of a group of Kristian's students changes all that. Kristian’s grief and a need for answers drives him to set out after their murderer, prepared to face the man but unprepared for what awaits him at the source of it all.

Conor Drew lives for the thrill of adventure and to explore the delights of as many beautiful women as one man can in a lifetime. Between dangerous jobs for the wealthy aristocracy and powerful figures in the underworld of the Nineteen Kingdoms, he's seen more than most. And yet it isn't until his greatest friend and biggest enemy both find him on the same day that his true odyssey begins.

Selena Soto is a woman lost in her own world. She struggles to fit into her existence, to find meaning and purpose—even progress at work eludes her. Meeting the right man might be a good first step, or perhaps just defining what it is she really wants from life. Little does she realise that only her own fears keep her from a destiny that's greater than she could imagine.

The trio will soon learn that only by working as a team can they solve the puzzle that has drawn them together. 

FORMAT/INFO: A Gamble Of Gods is published on November 11th, 2022 and is self-published by the author.  It is 438 pages spread over twenty-seven numbered chapters and an epilogue. It is told in first-person POV from Kristian del Rosso, Conor Drew & Selena Soto. It is available in hardcover, paperback, & e-book formats. Cover art is by Karrah E and design-typography is Shawn T. King.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS (LENA): A Gamble of Gods is Mitriel Faywood's debut and all I can say is WOW. 

This is an outstanding novel that mixes scifi and fantasy in a way that could be thought as logical.  We have three main characters, Conor, Kristian and Selena. Each is from a different world that has different levels of technological advancement. 

It all begins when Kristian's class is brutally murdered by someone who was there for him. Until that point, Kristian has been saved and hidden from everyone, including himself, in the University but this murderer wants him out. He wants to avenge his students and so he went looking for the murderer. As he follows this man, he finds himself in Conor's world. 

I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler free as I can. There are so many secrets surrounding Kristian and James (his mentor). 

"Right now, staying alive, preferably without dying in the process, was much higher in my priority list. That and not letting all the killing turn me into a monster, too."

The characters are very complex, and very relatable in their internal struggles, even the antagonist. The three main characters are really funny and they care so much about each other.  

"Conor naturally moved closer to her with a smile on his face. Why did he always have to be like this? He wasn't just enjoying danger; he was literally courting it!"

The plot changes a lot since page one. And even if you think you know where's going, you really don't. I thoroughly enjoyed all the twists and turns. Also I really appreciated the comic relief moments. They gave the narrative a more light-heartedness tone when needed. 

"'Don't worry,' I said. 'Coffins are my specialty'"

I absolutely loved the writing style, it flows seamlessly, allowing the reader to appreciate the whole scene. I loved the mix of technology and swords. Magic powers and teleportation.

The relationship between all the protagonists changes since they first find each other. The way they perceive and how they feel about each other is so beautifully and well described sometimes I felt I was one of them.  The romance, even though is not a part of the main plot, it really does contribute a lot in how we see the couple as a couple and as individuals. I really enjoyed it.

"'People you meet are like seeds.' [...] 'Sooner or later, most of them are blown away from your life, and you forget all about them. But a few will stay and grow roots while you're not looking. Before you know it, they take hold in you so deeply, you can no longer remove them without tearing off a part of you. And sometimes you will find that it is a part you cannot live without.'"

The Order of the Dragon is so interesting. I feel this is going to be explored more in the sequel, specially after that ending.

"We are the fire that keeps away the dark." 

Also, it was wonderful to find a little wink to a Mark Lawrence's novel.

CONCLUSION (LENA): Overall, this is a fantastic debut that promises an amazing continuation of the story, alongside exploration of this huge world the author has created and probably will expand in the sequels, and human nature and emotions through the characters.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS (MIHIR): I happened to know of Mitriel Faywood as being Mark Lawrence’s trusted beta reader. So when I was given the fantastic opportunity to review her debut, I gladly accepted with gusto.

This story is quite a fascinating one as one can glean from the blurb. We are introduced to Kristian del Rosso, Conor Drew & Selena Soto in that order. They literally & figuratively reside in different worlds so as to speak but then slowly (again not quite literally as the plot is quite smoothly paced) and surely their plot threads start coalescing. The main plot while starting out with murder soon involves world hopping, AI, Robots, London parties, medieval escapades and more. This book has everything but the kitchen sink genre wise and it’s exhilarating to watch a debutant author make it work so smoothly.

What I thoroughly enjoyed about this debut was the author’s writing beginning with her character voices, to her worldbuilding, to the prose and the humour that’s laced within the story. Let’s talk about the characters as this book has three distinct ones and each of them is in first person. Now that’s a tall order and could have backfired easily if it were not for Mitriel’s skill. She skillfully is able to demonstrate each persona and their quirks. It was so easy to notice every chapter as it began with a different character and the narrative voice then quickly made it clear who it was. From Conor’s easy going caddish charm to Kristian’s dogged determination to Selena’s sheepish behaviour.  Each of them has a narrative arc within the book and it was fun to see their characters develop and form bonds. For me Selena’s journey was the most satisfying to read and Kristian’s was a close second. Because I love characters who are scientifically inclined and behave intellectually.

The second promising aspect of the story is the incredible world building which showcases some wild scenarios and makes it all work. Seriously, the readers are shown high fantasy, SF, contemporary urban fantasy and comedic fantasy to a solid degree as well. All of this is effortlessly wrapped around the main thread of the story and while it is not entirely explained. It work quite smoothly as the readers just engage with the story. One of the best highlight of the story is an AI horse and I hope we get more of Storn and Kristian. There’s also humour that’s laced within the story and it stays even throughout the story. Lastly this book is very smoothly paced and a lot happens while ending quite shockingly.

Going on to some of the drawbacks, for me the only complaint was that the worldbuilding wasn’t quite explained but then again this is just book 1. There will be more to explore in the sequels. For some this genre mish-mash might not be to their liking but I honestly think that if any reader were to read it with an open mind, they will find much to like here.

CONCLUSION (MIHIR): A Gamble Of Gods is a literary gamble by Mitriel Faywood and it is one that pays off comfortably. Combining rich prose, solid characterization, a cool plot alongside comedy, romance and found family tropes, this debut just won me over. A Gamble Of Gods is a terrific debut in a year of incredible ones and a saga opener that has me marking my calendar for 2023 eagerly so I can get my hands on the sequel.



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