#Review: Seventh Decimate by Stephen Donaldson @Gollancz
The war between Amika and Belleger has raged for generations. Its roots lie in the distant past, beyond memory. Sorcerers from both sides rain destruction down on the battlefield, wielding the six deadly Decimates of fire, earth, wind, water, lightning, and pestilence.
Prince Bifalt hopes that Belleger’s new weapons technology, the rifle, will provide a decisive advantage. But when Belleger’s sorcerers are mysteriously deprived of their magical abilities, leaving them unable to defend against Amika, he must set aside his own deep hatred of sorcery and work to solve this new enigma.
Grasping at any chance to save his beloved homeland, Prince Bifalt of Belleger sets out on a hazardous journey across the unmapped wastelands to the east. With Elgart, his last comrade, Bifalt pursues the long-hidden trail of the one object that might be able to turn the tide of the endless war – a book entitled The Seventh Decimate.
The events that unfold force Prince Bifalt to weigh his stubbornness, his patriotism, and his hatred for sorcerers against his sense of loyalty and of what he knows to be right. And as he learns, Amika and Belleger may simply be pawns within an even larger struggle…
It’s fair to see the return of Stephen Donaldson is something to be excited about, I was particularly fond of The King’s Justice novels which I highly recommend. I had high expectations for Seventh Decimate and this is maybe where I fell down a little, because when you set your expectations that high can anything truly live up to them?
Two Kingdoms have been at war for as long as anybody can remember, Amika and Belleger, are tearing each other apart, Prince Bifalt son of the King of Belleger is sent on a quest by his Father to to acquire a book which could give them the upper hand, the mysterious Seventh Decimate. He leaves with a travelling party but as a series of unfortunate mishaps befall them he spends a large chunk of his journey alone.
The story is told in third person, and unusually not told in chapters but in five parts split into sections. The way it’s told made me feel I was slightly disconnected from Bifalt which made it hard for me as I progressed through the book. I really wanted to connect to this character who I felt had a lot to offer. On the surface he was strong and loyal, completely dedicated to his kingdom, his father, his people. But there was also a lot of depth to him and as the book progresses he becomes more paranoid rightly or wrongly and reads threats into everything which is said or done by others quite often to his own detriment. But through all this I don’t feel any emotion from him and that is what I missed most from the book just feeling that I was going through the motions.
I also felt that there was a lack of strong female characters something I really leap on these days and love to see. There is a female assassin but we don’t see much of her in action, otherwise the female characters are few and far between, just bit characters that don’t really stand out.
Overall, this is an enjoyable book, but it lacked a few elements that I was hoping to see that would have raised it to the next level for me.
Huge thanks to Stephen Donaldson and Gollancz for providing me with an ARC so that I could read and review this novel honestly.
Book & Buy Links
Title: Seventh Decimate
Series: The Great God’s War #1
Author: Stephen R. Donaldson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Magic
Publication Date: 16 November 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery