A prequel to the Age of Dread trilogy
The gruff and mysterious warrior known as Vargus has meant many things to many people over the course of his long life. But when he hears of a village suffering strange attacks in the dead of night, he must take up the role of the Gath — the people’s protector — once again, before any more children go missing.
Of Gods and Men is a very good introduction to the fantasy world Stephen Aryan has created. In this novella, we are introduced to Vargus, one of the main characters of the novels.
I enjoyed the novella — Vargus is an interesting protagonist, and through the mystery that is at the core of the story we learn a fair bit about him: who he is (albeit, with a fair bit of mystery remaining in place), what his motivations are, and what his relationship is to Lanny. To begin with, I was a little confused by certain things — who was who, for example, wasn’t immediately apparent, but I quickly oriented myself.
Aryan’s writing is very good, and I never felt overwhelmed by world-building (of which there’s actually not very much), and the characters are realistic and well-drawn — even peripheral characters didn’t feel two-dimensional.
I’m really interested in learning more about Lanny’s and Vargus’s pasts — there is a fair amount of information presented, but the remaining mysteries are quite tantalizing. I assume this will be addressed in the novels, so I have even more incentive to read those now (the whole trilogy is available now). I enjoyed the way Aryan wrote the two characters, and how they interacted.
It’s tricky to write any more without spoiling the plot and small revelations that come out over the course of their mission. Needless to say, I enjoyed reading Of Gods and Men. As a quick introduction to Aryan’s writing and fantasy world, this is excellent. Definitely recommended for fans of the series, and for those who’d like a tightly-plotted shorter introduction.
Of Gods and Men is published by Orbit in the UK and US, and will be available at the beginning of February.
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Review copy received from the publisher