It’s been a good long while since I’ve reviewed a book here. Part of that is just due to reading a lot less lately (removing one’s train commute cuts down on reading time), and part of it is due to reading things that I feel have been covered to bits. However, as I was going through Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar I knew it was one I wanted to talk about.
Why is that? Well, I stumbled ontoGunmetal Gods quite by accident (so, Twitter was able to do at least one good thing in the world), so I was fairly certain that not a number of folks had heard of it. Secondly, Akhtar was actually responsive on Twitter (not something all authors are), which is a great thing to see. Being able to engage with someone who creates art you enjoy is always a good thing.
Thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – is thatGunmetal Gods presents us a different sort of fantasy. Yes, we have clashes between empires and an unwilling “hero” (at the end of book one, it’s not 100% clear where he falls, I’ll be honest) getting pressed back into service. Unlike a great number of fantasy books that you and I have read, however, it’s not set in a pseudo-medieval European world. No, here, the story draws from Middle Eastern history and mythology.
For me – a generic white dude from the Midwest who started with The Hobbit all those years ago – this is like a bucket of cold water to the face. How the world is structured is just… different from what I was used to, and I found myself using my Kindle’s dictionary a good bit more to learn what some words meant (outside of guessing from context clues). Of course, you could just blast past all of that, and accept it as “here’s another weird world” but I liked getting to understand things a little bit more. As well as figuring out where pieces you’re familiar with DO fit in.
I also really liked howGunmetal Gods built a new methodology of magic that relies on… well, I’ll leave that for you to discover. Suffice to say, it’s more than just some well of energy or knowledge in a person that things are coming from. I won’t say it’s as crunchy or well-defined as some other series can be, but you definitely have a sense of how it’s done. Then again, actually running into a magus in this world is a rarity, so it actually makes sense that it’s not made 100% clear to the reader by the end of the book.
Suffice to say, I rather enjoyedGunmetal Gods, and how you have each chapter told from the point of view of a specific character, and see how storylines are charging towards one another. I know I’ve been a bit vague about some things here, but I don’t want to spoil anything for a reader stepping into this world. So, to help you make a decision (my vote: do give it a read!), here’s the jacket summary:
Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights in this blood-soaked fantasy epic inspired by the Crusades, featuring Lovecraftian gods, mischievous djinns, and astral magic!
They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom. Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers.
Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry.
To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing.
When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars.
It is of course available over on Amazon for $2.99 in Kindle (paperback and hardcover options available), and it’s also part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription if you have that. The second book in the series (Conquerer’s Blood) is also out there for $3.99. Check out more about the books – and the author – over at zamilakhtar.com