Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson

seventhdecimatecoverTitle: Seventh Decimate
Series: The Great God’s War #1
Stand-alone: Yes
Author(s): Stephen R. Donaldson
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: November 14th 2017
Pages: 320
Genre(s): Fantasy
ISBN13: 9780399586132


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.

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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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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!


You can order your own copy now!

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Amazon (USA) – Amazon (Canada)Chapters IndigoBook Depository

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆

Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Seventh Decimate?

Share your thoughts with me!

Till next time,

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41 thoughts on “Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson

  1. LizScanlon says:

    Hmm.. I’ve never heard of this author for some reason… although yours is the second review I’ve read for the book in the same day… and like yours, the other reader wasn’t that impressed either, I believe for the same reasons you mentioned…
    ah well, onwards and upwards!
    Simple is good sometimes, but I would agree that to really blow away a readers mind in fantasy- simple just doesn’t cut it anymore…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I hadn’t known about the guy till I found out about this new trilogy he was working on. I do hope he’ll go in an unexpected and interesting direction! And yep, there’s way too many brilliantly developed fantasy stories out there too. Hard to find arguments that would get people to pick this up over other stories too… Thanks for reading, Liz!

      P.S. It’s been a while I haven’t seen you put up reviews!!!! Give us some of them brilliant thoughts you always have about books already!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • LizScanlon says:

        🙂 I hope the sequel will be a nice surprise, in this case… if yu’re going to read it… 🙂

        Ah man, Lashaan, so nice of you to miss my brilliant thoughts… makes me heart warm 🙂 I’ve just been totally stuck for reading time due to work… some days I start at 8am and finish at midnight and it sucks the life out of me… any free time then goes to take care of home and husband 🙂 but.. I do have next week off – woopwoo- AND I have a Graphic Novel review coming up on tuesday 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          Yeh, I notice when awesome peepz suddenly disappear! 😛 I couldn’t believe that you’d just suddenly stop reading, so I assumed you were having one of those crazy busy times nowadays. But damn. 8am to midnight is just insane!!! You have to take care of yourself too, Liz!!!! I totally understand the priorities though, no worries. 😉 LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR ADVENTURES IN GRAPHIC NOVEL LAND!! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review for this book Lashaan, and I’m glad you enjoyed the story even if it didn’t blow you away. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that the next book is better. 🙂
    It’s a shame the world building was where this one fell down for you. I have to admit the sound of guns being used as weapons in a fantasy book really has me intrigued because I can’t think of any other fantasy book that uses guns. Part of me thinks it shouldn’t work but another part of me is interested to see how it does work in this book.
    Great review Lashaan. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks, Beth! I’ll crossing fingers and toes that it’ll be much more impressive for its sequel too. I know, right? I couldn’t stop imagining characters in Game of Thrones with guns… I’m sure it can be done better though. The author seemed to have left out a lot of world-building and that just made it a bit harder to be convinced by that idea. It also made me think of Native Americans going up against Europeans back in the day… but with sorcerers added to the mix.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Someone who’s known the man! Did you complete and enjoy his series with Thomas Covenant back in the day? I do want to give it a shot, but I fear that it might really feel “dated” and that the very character of Thomas Covenant might not be enjoyable. This one really didn’t show up in the world-building department. It’s a bit sad. Thank you so much, Kim! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sophie Li says:

    Hi Lashaan!
    Great review. I don’t read fantasy novels very often, although I do agree that world building makes a big difference in whether or not I will like a book! Do you think you will read the rest of the series as it comes out?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hey there, Sophie! Thank you! I pay particularly attention to the world-building in fantasy stories I pick up (which is why I do love them big and chunky too). This one was probably one of the shorter fantasy stories I’ve read lately with only around 300 pages and a relatively big font. I’ll definitely give the sequel and finale a shot in the future. They’ll maybe push me to try out the author’s more famous work (which he published yeeeeaaaars ago; around 1970 or something I think).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        I agree that world building is so important for fantasy stories, and that would explain why most fantasy novels are huge! Hope that you will enjoy the rest of the series when they come out in the future 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. La La in the Library says:

    I love the first six Thomas Covenant series books and have re-read them once, and am planning a third read next year. I am surprised by the lack of world-building because he did it so well in the Covenant books. Old age, maybe, ha ha. I still need to read the four new Covenant titles, but I am sure I will get to this new series at some point in the future. I love dastardly characters, so I will probably like Prince Bifalt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and bringing this new book to my attention. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I haven’t read those Covenant books, but I am pretty intrigued by them. They really don’t sound like they’re of the same caliber as Seventh Decimate and might actually be much more fun. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this one though, seeing that you have read a bunch of the authors books! Thank you for reading! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Raven @ Dreamy Addictions says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this book as much as you hoped! I also hate typical fantasy reads and it’s a bummer that it failed in world building too. It’s the first the first thing that I always look forward to when I read fantasy books. Great review, though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek says:

    Fantastic review as ever and very fair too. I’ve only read one positive review for this book, most others have been negative and then yours and another blogger middling. Part of me is glad that I didn’t get an ARC of the book but I have to admit to being slightly intrigued by it and if it really is as bad as some think.

    One other blogger didn’t connect with the characters, which is a big thing for me as is world building from your review, I do like decent world building and this lacking both is very off-putting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks, Drew. I think you’d probably have a couple issues for this as well. It turned out to be a plain doughnut with no additional sugar on it. And yes, there’s barely any window of opportunity to connect with the characters in this. You’ll just be reading to find out about the Prince’s quest and the surprises in store for him, but there’s nothing really that tosses a hook at you and get you to connect with him, or anyone else. I’d still be curious to hear what you’d think about it though, but you won’t see me pressing you to give this one a shot ASAP. 😀 Again, thanks for reading, sir.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      That is absolutely true. If you cut out the sorcerer’s or switch them up with other key characters that could aid or deter our heroes, you could totally get any genre… Ahhh, the importance of world-building. Couldn’t have been more evident through this book.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    Hmm Lovely review Lashaan! 🙂 I would be disappointed in such a MC… I know that anti-hero types and huge character arcs are favorites of readers but this guy sounds unendurable… I do admit that I tend to stay away from any fantasy that uses “God” in the title or blurb. I have no interest in godly variations… though the idea of guns up against sorcerers sounds like an intriguing idea. Too bad he didn’t develop the world building better… It’s hard to sell something that doesn’t quite fit a genre unless you really WOW readers…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks, Dani! 😀 Yeh, I absolutely adore anti-villains, but this one was nothing special to me. He was a Prince driven by a rage against sorcerers and a desire to save his people by killing everyone from the other realm. He makes mistakes after mistakes, and clearly the author wanted to develop him like that so that later on he might do something that could redeem his actions… Didn’t work so well if you ask me. And yes! Guns vs. Magic was interesting, it was just executed weirdly. It wasn’t as compelling to me as it could’ve been! Hopefully the sequel will do much better.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    Oh man, it seems I’ve missed a lot of content on your blog 🙂 haven’t even noticed the passage of time!

    Haven’t ever heard of this one. The cover kind of rocks though. I also love how you do the quotes 🙂 it’s also Pinterest worthy! I might have to steal the idea 😀 although I rarely do quotes… See “ARCs quoting not permitted” :DDDD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Don’t worry. 😉 I’m super happy that you found time to check out some posts though! We can all get pretty busy unexpectedly after all.

      You’re too king about those quote pics!! I’m pretty glad to hear such comments about them. Testing new things seems to be paying off based on what you’re saying!!! 😍 And yes, I totally understand the ban on quotes for ARCs. 😉

      Like

  9. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Well this sounds enjoyable, even if it didn’t break new grounds. Such a shame this didn’t transport you though!! Because, yes, while I don’t think it’s always necessary to have super complicated world building, I do think that like feeling like you’re somewhere magical is what a lot of fantasy’s all about- sounds like a missed opportunity there. Especially by making this standard fantasy fare of going from A to B.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yep, totally. It felt like it barely reached for a “good” world-building and was tip-toeing the fine lines between “bad” and “average” world-building. I think Arthurian fantasy stories tend to have that quest from A to B style narrative, but I didn’t feel like this one did anything special or interesting to be considered “good” Arthurian fantasy though. Thank you for reading!! 🙂

      Like

  10. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    You always managed to touch on what I need to know! I have this in my current stack and have been weighing it against another title. With that said, and this well written review, I am bumping it down the list. World build is everything for me in fantasy. Especially if it is going to be a series. I am not sure I am ready to make the commitment at this time with some of the flaws you mentioned. Would this maybe be a good one for when I want fantasy but not complexity?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh no!!! If you have it, I totally want to hear what you think about it hahahah This isn’t exactly a book that I’ve seen a lot of bloggers read and would love to see what peepz I know, like you, would think of it! But yes. I think it’ll be better when you want something sort of lighter.. nothing too complex. Short too, and quite linear. I’d be curious to see how you fair with it. 😀 I’ll probably never forget that you have a copy of it now! *waits impatiently*

      Like

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