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Friday, January 6, 2023

The Sapphire Altar by David Dalglish - Review

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Buy The Sapphire Altar HERE


OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: David Dalglish graduated from Missouri Southern State University in 2006 with a degree in Mathematics. He's self-published over fifteen novels, as well as had twelve books traditionally published through Orbit Books and 47North. He also has a lovely wife and three beautiful daughters, with all four being far better than he deserves.

FORMAT/INFO: The Vagrant Gods was published by Orbit Books on January 10th, 2023. It is 544 pages split over 53 chapters. It is written in third person from multiple POVs, including Cyrus, Stasia and more. It is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Reeling from recent revelations about his homeland and then man who trained him to be an assassin, Prince Cyrus has left his revolutionary group. Despite his desire to free his people from the tyrannical Everlorn Empire, Cyrus can’t condone the actions his mentor took in pursuit of the cause. Cyrus is aimless, until rumors reach him that one of the country’s slain gods has been reborn in a remote region of the island. Cyrus sets out to confirm the rumors, but what he finds will shake not just his faith, but the faith of some of the most powerful paladins in the country.

The Sapphire Altar is a return to the dazzling set pieces of The Bladed Faith, tempered by a heavy dose of introspection. The author knows how to write an excellent fight sequence, and you’ll find plenty of them here, between demigods, paladins, and outright gods alike. It almost became too much of a good thing; how do you continue to up the stakes when you’re constantly living at eleven?

The set pieces are balanced by a lot of soul searching by the characters, and this was where I struggled a bit with the book. While The Sapphire Altar starts with a clear trajectory, the plot point in question is wrapped up early in the book, leaving the characters to wrestle with the emotional fallout. Multiple characters are having individual crises of faith, grappling with both their pasts and their futures. There are a lot of interesting conversations about religion, about the nature of gods and what shapes them, as well as redemption. How does one truly makeup for the sins of their past?

As a person who generally loves when books spend time digging into their characters, it surprises me that I bumped on this, especially when the character growth happening IS necessary. I think the pitfall of all this introspection was that a lot of characters were siloed into their own personal journeys, only slightly overlapping with each other. The result was that the story didn’t feel like it had a cohesive goal until someone shows up to take everyone to the finale. There wasn’t a clear objective everyone was working towards; they were simply continuing to fight the good fight against their oppressors, one day at a time. And sure, some days struggles are like that, you aren’t building towards anything big, you’re just trying to survive. But for me personally, it didn’t feel like the plot was driving towards anything, and instead I felt a loss of momentum.

CONCLUSION: That said, The Sapphire Altar does continue a tradition of intriguing reveals and unlikely allies heading into the finale of the trilogy. The stage is set for some significant confrontations in the last act, especially as the readers know some key pieces of information that our heroes do not. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together when the final book of The Vagrant Gods releases.

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