For thousands of years, five great fortresses have stood sentinel between the Borderlands and the rapacious Orcs. But the Orcs have allies, and these allies are about to set a chain of events in motion that will lead to war…
Heroes will rise to answer the call.
Saethryth has just returned from the Orc Lands where he has been killing them for over twenty years. He is one of the last Orcslayers left alive.
Melress is a Half-Elven Battle Mage, recently promoted to Captain and sent to the fortress of Knight’s Perch, where there are rumours of a traitor.
Tierra has been sleeping with the enemy, and now she wants revenge.
And Bazak-Kul, well he just wants to get home alive.
They and others will face the onslaught at Knight’s Perch, but battle is the least of anyone’s problems because The Eighth God is on the rise and everything can change when the Gods are playing.
There are some books that are tough to put your finger on. These can include those which have an odd combination of genres, those which are fantastic in some areas but very poor in others, or those that deal with strange subject matter. I honestly have no idea which of these categories The Eighth God falls into.
I received a copy of the audiobook from the author in exchange for this review, and in the conversation leading up to this, Paul mentioned that he wrote “Comedic Grimdark”.
“That’s… That’s a thing?” I asked.
“Apparently,” said Paul, “because that’s what I write.”
Paul then preceded to send me not one audiobook, but two. There was The Eighth God, obviously, but there was also a small short story collection: Tales From Ashen Falls.
These stories give some background to the world and a few of its characters, and I found that they lived up to the “comedic grimdark” tag that I had come to think of as GrimLOL — thanks to Steve Thomas for that one. The stories were both a little dark and a little cheesy, with some over-the-top voices used by the narrator, and a fair few funny moments. Pock and Cock — two brothers who work as bouncers for an Ashen Falls inn —stole the show. Having had my doubts about GrimLOL put to rest, I was ready to start the main novel.
Unfortunately, I feel like the comedic essence of the short stories got a little lost in the larger wordcount. While there were some genuinely funny scenes scattered throughout the book, It felt more grimdark than comedy, with the usual excessive violence and some rape-happy orcs. But though the story is dark, the characters still manage to be entertaining.
One of the aforementioned orcs is our first main POV character, Bazak-Kul. He’s actually a half-orc, and can magic up a disguise that allows him to pass for an elf. While undercover in a human city, Bazak seduces and subsequently sleeps with the captain of the guard — Tierra. To be clear, when I say “seduces”, I mean it in the rapey, magical way. Tierra gets a little miffed when she eventually puzzles this out, and so she swears revenge, teaming up with Saethryth the Orcslayer in order to get it. The Orcslayers in this book are a Pretty Big Deal, and Saethryth carries a sword that talks/sings when it kills orcs.
Meanwhile, Melress the half-elf battlemage necromancer is out there raising the dead along with his talking crow familiar, Caw. Melress has the honour of being the designated “nice” character. While everyone else is either a villain, a victim, or the patented grimdark Morally Grey™, Melress somehow manages to avoid becoming a raging cuntgoblin.
If you’re wondering… No, cuntgoblins don’t actually exist in this world. At least, they don’t exist in this world yet.
The story unfolds at a decent pace. Quite often we’ll be introduced to a new POV character after a previous character has been in their vicinity, or interacted with them in some way. This gives the book a decent flow to it, which is impressive considering how many action scenes there are. Action-focused stories can too often seem episodic or pointless, but The Eighth God does a good job of keeping them all entertaining and purposeful.
The tone fluctuates between brooding and jaunty, and this difference is emphasized by the narrator of the audiobook. It’s quite a bizarre mix. There are scenes with the loathful, despicable orcs as they chat about mass murder and world domination… and then there’s talking swords and winged armour and zombies talking about eating the cocks that raped them (seriously).
The narrator was… not bad, but not great. Some of his voices were a little absurd, and he stumbled over his words a few times, but he did a decent job of telling the story. He often opts for a more cartoony style, with outlandish accents and anime-villain orcish. The sample on Audible should give you a good idea of what to expect.
As I’ve said before, I can’t put my finger on this book. Is it poking fun at the over-the-top violence and grimdark novels, or is that just the way it was written? I honestly don’t know, but it is certainly unique.