SPOILER WARNING – This review contains potential spoilers for the first two books in the trilogy, Godblind and Darksoul. If you haven’t already read those you may want to skip this review until you have.
This is the final volume in Anna Stephens’ Godblind trilogy, and boy, what a finale it is. Following on almost directly from the end of last year’s Darksoul, it opens with the army of Rilpor in hiding and the Mireces invaders firmly entrenched in the city of Rilporin, their chieftain Corvus having proclaimed himself the new king of Rilpor.
To say that things look bad for the good guys at the start of this book would be an understatement of the highest order, and yet despite their losses and the setback of losing their King, General and capital city all at once, the remaining Rilporians, led by Mace Koridan, are determined to take the fight back to their enemies and take back their land.
Meanwhile, back in the city Major Tara Carter finds herself the slave of Corvus’ second, Valan, and is determined to enact the orders given to her by the Crys Tailorson, the Fox God, before he abandoned her to her fate; find a way to kill Corvus and the Mireces’ Blessed Lady, Lanta, in order to stop them from resurrecting their dead goddess.
Thus is set the scene for one hell of a roller-coaster of a novel. As well as the usual fantasy melange of warfare, blood, death and despair, there’s also a fair amount of hope and positivity hidden in this narrative. There’s also more than a little humour, though in many cases it’s tinged with a hint of pathos. Characters we’ve followed for the entire trilogy are fated to die, and Stephens doesn’t pull her punches in this regard. Indeed, throughout the novel we’re repeatedly told outright that certain characters are going to die, whether we like it or not. And yet despite the nihilistic undertones we’re presented with, Stephens’ writing keeps the narrative flowing and makes you want to keep turning pages until the story’s done.
It is the writing that makes this such a wonderful novel to read. Whether she’s describing the visceral horror of a massed infantry battle or the touching moments between lovers during quieter moments, the author’s skill with words never comes into doubt. Each scene resonates with emotion and detail that draws the reader in and makes you feel like you’re there in the thick of the action, living and breathing and fighting with the characters on the page. Even though this is only her third novel, I have a sneaking suspicion that Anna Stephens is going to be an important player in the fantasy arena for the foreseeable future.
All in all this is an amazing end to what’s been an amazing trilogy and I genuinely hope to see more from the author in the years to come. Definitely worthy of all five stars I’m giving it, and definitely another one to add to my favourite books of 2019.