Avin del Bors has a problem. His brother Drew has run off to fight in a war against the wolves, even though the wolves weren’t responsible for the vicious attack against the humans on the Free Plains. Avin’s companions—the warrior Ax, one-armed sorcerer Jocen, plucky owl Ulkia, drug-addled cheetah Summon the Wind and raccoon stand-up comic Onesso—all have their own reasons for accompanying him through the animal territories across the Bladebone Mountains. Their travels will take them from the highly regimented wolf cities, to the richesse and luxury of the Equine Commonwealth, all the way to the vertiginous tunnels of the serpents’ underground Net and across the waters of the Autonomous Dolphin Collective—to whatever unknown awaits them.
What neither Avin nor his companions yet understand is that the real force behind the Free Plains attack is neither canine nor feline, nor yet crocodile, insect, raptor, bear or shark. Far to the east, in the scorched wasteland known as The Barrens, lives the ragged clan that calls itself The Godless. There, Avin will confront his brother, his companions and himself, and discover two truths: one that changes everything he understands about himself, and another that threatens the balance of the entire world.
WHAT I THOUGHT
Impressive is what I thought.
Picture this – human beings have destroyed the earth, they stuffed up and put a huge dent in creation. The gods (yes, plural, I will get to that in a minute) have decided all creatures should live separately and not seek dominance over one another, all are equal. Separate territories are created for each set of animals and each territory comes with its own language, or way of speaking, and its own way of living. Each territory also has its own god: there is a god of humans, a god of woodland animals, a god of swift-running predators, a god of hoofed animals, et cetera, et cetera, you get the point. As well-intentioned as the gods are you just know this set-up sounds too good to be true, too good to last. It seems early on that the humans are in a war against the wolves. It seems that the plan is not going the way the gods thought it would. It seems we have an adventure on our hands!
The beginning had me, I was in and I wanted more. This idea of separate territories, different gods and a supposed order of the world was definitely intriguing.
After the introduction it was time to meet the characters. I loved how Maine did this, slowly but surely. Rather than introduce all of the main characters in one chapter they were spread over several chapters. I loved learning about each character’s society. It really is like another world and Dave Maine has created this amazing world by providing the reader with all of the important details in such a way it seemed to me that every sentence was especially crafted. In my opinion it definitely feels as though a lot of work has gone into this epic fantasy known as The Gamble of the Godless and although Maine is not usually known for fantasy work such as this, it certainly seems as though he is no stranger to the genre. He knows what he’s doing!
The characters maketh the story! I’m sure everyone who reads this book will have a favourite by the end of it. I loved them all, even if they were ‘baddies’, and I loved the way they lived and how they talked, how law and order was practiced and how they viewed the world. Whether your favourite be a human, a sorcerer, an owl, a cheetah, a raccoon, a horse, a snake or one of the other countless animals in this story there is no doubt your favourite is so because of the way Maine has managed to give him/her/it a ‘realness’ and has been able to describe the character without the feeling of one dimensionality. Don’t call me crazy – perhaps I shouldn’t say it, but I will – they felt like real people/animals, like they could seriously be living in the hills near my house. Just goes to show what a way with words Mr Maine has. Oh, and by the way, I will disclose that Ulkia the owl was my favourite – I’d love for her to land on my fence one day!
So many characters are joined together, so many happenings take place, so many reasons to keep this series going and so many reasons to read the next book! If you haven’t read this one already you should. Explore this fantasy world, let Maine’s writing explain to you the details and let it excite you! Explore, explain, excite!
Many thanks to Dave Maine for providing me with a copy of The Gamble of the Godless – thanks, Dave!
Check out Dave’s author profile by clicking here
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