Title: Seventh Decimate
Series: The Great God’s War #1
Author(s): Stephen R. Donaldson
Release Date: November 14th 2017
Stephen R. Donaldson returns with a new trilogy that fails to break new grounds, but remains a typical and captivating adventure that will decide the fate of countless people. Seventh Decimate merely sets the table to a potentially exciting sequel as we follow Prince Bifalt and his arrogant self into treacherous grounds.
The author of one of the most hated anti-heros in fantasy, Thomas Covenant, from his famous trilogy, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, presents us with the first book in his latest trilogy, The Great God’s War. Seventh Decimate is in fact my first encounter with the author’s writing, and unfortunately I just wasn’t blown away by what was delivered. However, the story still manages to hold onto my gaze until the ending. That will have to be my one and only sign that this series can definitely get better if Stephen R. Donaldson plays his cards right.
The story tosses you right in the middle of a war between the realms of Belleger and Amika. Magisters (sorcerers) are present in both camp and draw their powers from six different Decimates of sorcery. From fire to wind, they use their unique skills to wreak havoc on innocent lives. However, the Amikans have succeeded in using the seventh Decimate which strips away all lesser magic. Prince Bifalt, son of King Abbator of Belleger, however plans on reversing the circumstances by discovering a hidden repository where a book containing the seventh Decimate can be found. The fate of his people now lies in his hands, but the path to this repository is no walk in the park.
Prince Bifalt was not a character that you could easily warm up too. He is hot-headed and incredibly arrogant. He is reckless and makes mistakes more often that you’d imagine. There’s honestly nothing about him that inspires love or respect from me, and I have the feeling that author wanted to portray him as such so that his development would feel dramatic. That however still didn’t redeem his character further along the line as he had grown into a disgrace too quickly. Burning with a red hot hate for sorcerers and anyone who comes from Amika, the only thing that really kept me going is my own desire to see how he’d change or what would happen to him.
Where the story really failed for me is the world-building. Stephen R. Donaldson contents himself with the simplest of setting. Nothing in this story stimulates your imagination and everything is kept at a minimum. Fantasy stories that don’t attempt to put colour and life into their world can only go so far. With characters here and there who are quickly described and settings limited to places like deserts, mountains and woods, Seventh Decimate is not one that wants to transport you to magical places. In fact, this is merely a standard fantasy quest where a group of characters go from point A to point B and have a couple obstacles along the way. Then again, this kind of story has its upsides. After all, I was still curious enough to reach the ending.
Another element of the world-building that sort of felt awkward was the fact that Belleger had guns and guns were their ultimate weapons against sorcerers. Guns are a new invention and the author introduced it as a weapon that was only at its first uses, so flaws to their prototypes were explored, as well as the many uses of gunpowder. It came off weird to see guns go up against sorcerers, but as the story progressed, you just couldn’t help but succumb to the idea and indulge it. Bellegers were also not used to mystical beings, making them seem like they lacked a lot of knowledge, but the story does slowly introduce these ideas and use the protagonist as a learner. It felt like there was a lot of development and ideas that could’ve been better fleshed out in this story, but Stephen R. Donaldson simply restrained himself.
Seventh Decimate turned out to be a standard and typical fantasy story that stayed close a plot featuring a big quest and a protagonist who’ll learn a lot from this experience. His exceptional case also drives him forward into places where you just have to question if there’s anything that he does that is left to his own will or if he is simply a pawn in this whole war. Although Stephen R. Donaldson’s new trilogy kicked things off in an unspectacular fashion, I still have hope that its sequel might pick up all the right parts and make a great mosaic out of it.
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆
Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Seventh Decimate?
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Till next time,