Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Gunmetal Gods’ by Zamil Akhtar organised by Storytellers on Tour. This is the first book in the Gunmetal Gods series, and it is also a Semi-Finalist in SPFBO 7.
I hope that you will check out the book and the authors, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
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.
Gunmetal Gods is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a long time. It was one of those cases where I fell in love with the cover (and I’m still in love with the cover, in fact, I’m in love with the covers for this series in general), and the blurb sold me – as I’m a fan of fantasy where the Gods are directly involved and that was very much the case here. I will say now, having read it, that the blurb really doesn’t do justice to the sheer scale of this book. Also, as a note, Gunmetal Gods is a dark book – there is violence, there is darkness, and it is not always easy to read, although it felt incredibly true to the world that is created and I never found it overdone.
The world-building was my favourite part of this book, and it was there that we really got to see the scale of the world Akhtar has created here, not just in terms of breadth – although as the map (and yes, that is an immediate bonus point) shows just the physical layout of this world is also huge in scale, but also in-depth. Gunmetal Gods is a book of layers and hidden depths. It is also a book that demands your total attention because of just how richly layered it is because even things that appeared simple often weren’t, and this was a world where so many things had different meanings or interpretations depending on the point of view, or even just the point in the story that you had reached, and there were times when it could be some time until you fully understood them. It also meant that Gunmetal Gods takes a little while to get going, just because there is a lot to establish, but that is more than made up for when the book takes off.
What I really enjoyed, and one of the major draws of this book is that it draws from the setting and history of the crusades, a period of history that I’ve always been interested in, and it was fascinating to see how Akhtar played off that in a fantastical setting. It certainly gave added meaning to the Gods being involved, and religion – in various forms, and not all positive – was a major facet throughout the book as you would expect.
‘It was said the creator made the world in seven days but was frightened of her creation. It was a place of total chaos, with no rules to guide it. So the creator made the angels to tame the world and bring it under law. Then, as if ashamed, the creator unmade herself and ceased to be.’
There were a few points where it felt as though the differences weren’t clearly defined, and it might have been interesting to delve a little more into those differing traditions and beliefs. Yet at the same time, it works beautifully because that blurring of the lines, the common points that we got to see, highlight so many important questions and reasons behind the conflict, and the way meaning is often a result of viewpoint. I wasn’t quite as convinced by the miracles, although I did like that they weren’t used to ‘solve’ all the problems, which I feel would have detracted from the power of the story. However, the detail and scope of this aspect were breathtaking, and it wasn’t held in a bubble, feeding into the different cultures and locations, and to the political landscape, and the interests and interactions of the characters from our main POV characters to the complex cast of secondary characters.
Gunmetal Gods is set in a world that feels alive and breathing, partly because of that interconnectedness of all the details, as Akhtar has layered the world in such a way that you can feel the history, the connections – good and bad – without everything being explicitly stated. This in turn was coupled with a writing style that was both compelling and beautiful, which brought the world to life – making it feel as though you could just close your eyes, and find yourself in that world surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells that were written on the pages. Akhtar also infused a lot of emotion into his writing, and across the spectrum, marrying beauty with darkness, and as I talk about later, I wish that there had been more time just for me to sit and savour the writing for itself.
Akhtar has crafted his characters in much the same way to the world, and particularly our two main POV characters Micah the Metal and Kevah are compelling, complex characters in their own right – and so individual, that there was never any danger of mistaking whose chapter you were in. Despite the almost overwhelming strength of the worldbuilding, these two characters, in particular, demanded your attention and again we see that use of emotion coming into play through the use of the first-person point of view, and Akhtar takes us deep into these characters, again utilizing depth to great effect. Similar skill is shown with the rest of the cast, and there is a wide range of peoples within this world, some more or less human than the others, and this was another layer to the worldbuilding – as we had Djinn and spirits, alongside the main sides in the conflict, and it just added to that epic scale of this book.
A lot was happening in this book, and at times the pacing was relentless and it felt as though if you so much as blinked then you would miss some key detail, especially towards the end of the book when the revelations came more quickly. Akhtar does an amazing job of juggling all those balls and bringing it together, and there is certainly never a dull moment and it makes it all but impossible to look away. However, I feel as though if there had been a few more minutes for us to catch our breath, then perhaps some of the impact would have been heightened because sometimes you are so focused on following what is happening and trying not to miss something, that you can’t just breath in the story – and this was a world, a story and a writing style that I really wanted to take that time with. I also feel that would have given us a little more time to get to know the characters better – especially those that we spent a little less time with, as while they were compelling and really well written, it was a little hard to grasp hold of them due to the pace of the book.
Gunmetal Gods was a fascinating read, and for me, the sheer richness of the worldbuilding and the writing which really brought the world and story to life made up for any pacing issues, and I am looking forward to checking out the second book – Conquerer’s blood – which came out earlier this year as soon as I can. I will say, this was not the easiest of reads – it demands your attention, and it starts off dark and only gets darker, and the pacing will sweep you away and may risk losing you in the currents, but honestly, it was more than worth it and I couldn’t put it down, and this is a book that you should certainly add to your TBR.
About the Author:
When Zamil was fourteen, he moved from the dry, dune-spotted Arabian peninsula to the hilly, arctic wasteland that is Western Massachusetts. He despises the cold, isn’t very fond of the sun, and prefers spending all day indoors mashing the keyboard in the hopes something great will come of it. When not dreaming up dark and fantastical journeys, he enjoys binging horror movies, wasting precious time arguing about international relations on Reddit, and occasionally traveling somewhere exotic. He currently lives in Dubai with his loving wife and his badly-behaved pet rabbit.
Prize: A hardcover copy of Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar – US Only
Starts: July 25th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: August 1st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
You can enter here:a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.