The tyranny of the gods is absolute, and they are capricious, malevolent and almost all-powerful, playing cruel games with the fates of mortals for their own ends.
A vibrant and powerful epic set against an alternate Bronze Age, this tale of gods, men and monsters, conspiracy and war, is a rich, compelling and original read from a master of the historical and fantasy genres.
The people caught up in toils of the gods are merely trying to survive. Victims of vicious whims, trapped by their circumstances or pushed beyond what the mortal frame can bear, a handful of god-touched mortals – a scribe, a warlord, a dancer and a child – are about to be brought together in a conspiracy of their own.
A conspiracy to reach the heavens, and take down the corrupt and aging gods… Who are already facing troubles of their own…
Thank you to NetGalley and Gollancz for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
When the order is epic, Miles Cameron sure delivers. I have only read one other book by the author, and that was Artifact Space, Cameron’s first foray into sci-fi, which immediately became one of my favourite books thanks to its well-rounded characters, fascinating world, and intriguing plot. Against All Gods is no different, and really speaks to the vast imagination and great skill for writing that Cameron has, because it all just slots together so easily and his storytelling draws me in immediately. You can also see the attention to detail that went into this book, which is a historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age, and the descriptions were all so vivid that I really felt like I was there, with all the chaotic sounds, colours, and smells of the period.
Against All Gods has a big cast of characters, but the three main points of view are those of Pollon, a scribe and archer; Zos, a god-born warrior; and Era, a dancer. The three are scattered across the map when we meet them, but right from the start they are being pulled towards one another by the machinations of the Huntress – also known as the Black Goddess, the Enemy, and Temis – who is always plotting against the other gods. And what gods they are…
Cameron has drawn from a number of the mythologies present in our own history, but the pantheon he has created is entirely unique, and each deity bursts with character. I cannot say that any is entirely likeable (though I do love Druku), but all are fascinating, right from the opening scene in ‘Heaven’ where the gods dwell, and we witness the wrath of the Storm-God upon his not-so-competent subjects. And these are the ‘New Gods’ who, a thousand years before, overthrew the ‘Old Gods’ in a great and violent war. This aspect of the world-building is felt throughout the story, and still tinges all godly interactions, which I found fascinating. The gods are also characters in their own right, affecting the course of the plot just as much as the mortals; it does not feel at all like a deus-ex-machina situation, though, because a lot of the time the pantheon knows only as much as or even less than the humans do, so they tend to make things worse by interfering, which is greatly entertaining!
I will admit, though, that there were a few moments when I myself was a little hazy on what was actually going on, and I think this is definitely the kind of book that will open up even more during a re-read, which I am already planning… what is clear is that Cameron has a big picture in mind, and is skilfully unwrapping it layer by layer, showing hints and giving clues, but leaving so much still to discover. Needless to say, I cannot wait to see what happens next, because this story is just so good!
Published: 23rd June 2022 by Gollancz
Series: The Age of Bronze, book one
Narration style: third person, multiple points of view
Format read: eARC
Content Warnings: violence, blood, sexual content, language, slavery