In an epic fantasy kingdom inspired by African legends, a young assassin finds himself hunted by the brothers and sisters he has trained alongside since birth.
A teenaged assassin is hunted by his own Brotherhood as he seeks to uncover a supernatural conspiracy before it’s too late
Neythan is one of five adolescents trained and raised together by a mysterious brotherhood of assassins known as the Shedaím. When Neythan is framed for the murder of his closest friend, he pursues his betrayer, and in so doing learns there’s far more to the Brotherhood, and even the world itself, than he’d ever thought possible.
A brotherhood of assassins? Inspired by African Legends? Supernatural conspiracy?
Consider me sold.
Lost Gods is a book with a fantastic premise, written by an exciting new author, and published by a pretty awesome publisher (Angry Robot).
Our “main” point-of-view character is Neythan, and we follow him as he makes his first kill for the brotherhood and receives his first real assignment. On the way to complete this assignment, Neythan’s best friend is murdered by another assassin and Neythan is framed for the murder. From here, he decides to hunt down his betrayer, while being hunted down by the Brotherhood himself.
Outside of the confines of the Brotherhood, Neythan’s world begins to grow. He begins to reconsider ‘truths’ that he’d taken for granted, and meet people that he wouldn’t otherwise have met. More importantly, he begins to question the doctrine of the Brotherhood. He might be an ultra-competent assassin, but he has this sense of vulnerability that makes you want to root for him.
There’s a good mix of plot and character-work here. The action never overshadows or outpaces the growth of the characters, but there is always enough story there to keep things interesting. Likewise, whenever there’s a lull in the action, the characters are interesting enough to carry the story.
I did notice, however, that Yongo has a tendency to start his chapters with a bit of an info-dump about the world and its history. Quite a few authors do this—including the likes of Robin Hobb—but I did feel that this exposition could perhaps have been woven into the story a little better. Rather than adding flavour and context, it sometimes seemed to throw off the pacing, and made it far too easy for me to put the book down between chapters.
But hey! If you’re a sucker for worldbuilding, then I bet you’ll love it.
Neythan isn’t the only point-of-view character in the book, with a few of the side-characters getting some screen time to show what’s going on in the wider world. While it can often be frustrating to POV-jump in a book that has a clear main character, I think that Yongo manages to pull it off. We see just enough of these other characters to tease us, to make us want to learn more about them, and then we are artfully distracted by the lure of the next chapter.
As you’d expect from an epic fantasy book about assassins, there’s quite a bit of fighting and killing going on. The combat scenes are exciting and engaging, written in an almost clinical fashion that focuses more on the technique than the emotion. This makes perfect sense considering that Neythan has been trained from birth to be an assassin, and it really adds a sense of legitimacy and competence to the character.
It’s clear that this is the first book of a series, and as a result the story isn’t really self-contained. Instead, it’s an intriguing opening to what looks to be a very exciting epic fantasy series, written by a very talented author.
Lost Gods will release on July 3rd.
[I received a digital ARC from Angry Robot Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]