June 26, 2011

Review: Godslayer, by Jacqueline Carey

Godslayer (The Sundering, #2)
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Title: Godslayer
Series: The Sundering
ISBN: 978-0765350985
Publisher: Thor fantasy (2006)

Go to Amazon page

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Once human but now immortal, Supreme Commander Lord Tanaros fled the realm of Men and chose darkness when he killed his adulterous wife and his liege king who cuckholded him. A thousand years have passed in service to his master, the dark god Satoris. The world view Satoris as Evil Prime and the name of Tanaros is the byword for treachery.

The races have united in their quest to rid the world of the Dark God and his minions. The key to the prophecy is the beautiful Elvish princess Cerelinde--and Satoris has captured her.

Yet not all tales told are true and evil may have another face. Satoris refuses to act like the monster that he is made out to be for he recognizes in Cerelinde a spark of the love that he once bore for his fellow gods. But this spark of light might prove to be a danger to Satoris...and a greater danger for Tanaros and all that he holds dear. For Cerelinde might remind him that the heart that he willed to iron an eon ago is still very much mortal.

Godslayer is not quite the second book of The Sundering series. It is the second half of a single story, and it is impossible to read one instalment without reading the other.

While Banewreaker depicted a world tethering on the verge of war, closing off with the inevitable fall into conflict, Godslayer offers us an agonising resolution to the epic struggle of thought versus passion: the tension mounts with every new development. Even when we think that the rope is so taut that it must surely break Ms. Carey keeps on weaving her tale, taking us to higher and higher places... And setting us up for an ending that should leave no one untouched.

The Sundering series is a deconstruction of the Lords of the Rings so the reader knows – thinks he knows – the ending. Actually, we think we know what is going to happen from the very beginning. And... we are not wrong, entirely. We are far from right, though. The characters, who are the ones driving this particular story, add all sorts of nuances to the tale. There are twists we would not expect, gestures that leave us gaping in wonder, and an underlying hopeless hope for Satoris to be left alone and in peace shadows our every step of the way.

This is perhaps the best aspect: suspension of belief, perfectly achieved. We know, but we hope. And thus the tension is born and it never lets up.

Another most interesting aspect of Godslayer is the way it makes us think. Fantasy is often used to address issues such as racism, sexism, good versus evil... Most books do this using half-breds, charismatic heroines and orcs versus elves. It is nothing new. But to change the point of reference, to explore the views of those both sides, to be able to empathize with both sides of the field... That makes for an entirely new level of grey, and for some nutritious food for thought. And on top of these classic themes, Jacqueline Carey presents us with a chance to reconsider the meaning of loyalty, of heroes, of destiny, of fate, of the choices we make and of so many other things. I could not have asked anything more from a book.

The characters keep the same voice and feeling they had in Banewreaker, while they react and evolve according to their circumstances and to the events. They are alive in their own world, and they are consistent with their motivations, their beliefs, their hopes. Particularly touching is the Sorceress from the East and her loneliness. Or Satoris and his honour, his humanity even in godhood. The Lady Cerelinde, whose kindness is an invisible knife in truth.

And Tanaros, always Tanaros.

Godslayer is not just a great book. The Sundering is not just an amazing series. I feel I'm the richer person now that I've read it.

Godslayer made me cry. Not many tales can touch you so deeply, and I'd never change that experience.


  1. As you can see, I discovered it not that long ago... But it's right up there, with the very few 5 start books I have - books that touch me so deeply that I feel like they are a part of me after I've read them.

    I hope you will get around to reading it, and that you'll enjoy it as much as I did!