Sunday, February 15, 2015

Book Review: The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar


Lucia’s people, the Rezzians, have been at war for ten years, and there’s no sign of it stopping. Now, her younger brother Caio has been named Dux Spiritus of the army, and he’s determined to see the war end. A favorite of the ten gods, a Haizzem, Caio is a spiritual man and a healer, desiring no more than to bring peace and life to the Rezzians.

On the other side, the Pawelon prince, Rao, seems to want the same. A sage with mystical powers and strong belief in karma, Rao wants to see the end of the war as badly as Caio does. But the rulers of their countries seem determined to see the war end with blood rather than talk.

Could trial by combat between the two princes be the answer? Lucia doesn’t think so, mostly because one of the gods, Lord Danato, seems determined to torture her as much as possible, and a peaceful end to the war just wouldn’t be interesting enough for him. What sacrifice is he going to ask to end this bloody decade?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One.

Her father-king wants war.

Her messianic brother wants peace.

The black god wants his due.

She suffers all the consequences.

King Vieri's war against the lands of Pawelon rages into its tenth year, and with the kingdom's holy savior, his son Caio, en route to the fighting in the storied canyon, victory ought to come soon. Feeling abandoned by his god, King Vieri forces young Caio to lead his army to victory.

The Black One, Lord Danato, tortures Lucia with nightly visions promising another ten years of bloodshed. She can no longer tell the difference between the waking world and Danato's nightmares. Lucia knows the black god too well; he entered her bed and dreams when she was ten.

As the epic battles rage, Lucia struggles to understand the messages of The Black One, while Caio wrestles with his conscience: Can someone who only wants to heal the world bring himself to kill another man?


The Black God’s War is very unlike most fantasy I’ve come across, and I’ve read a lot. Granted, the majority of the fantasy I read is Euro-centric, reminiscent of Western European cultures. In this novel, the best guesses I can make are that the two cultures here are heavily influenced by Greek and Indian cultures. Please keep in mind I could be very, very wrong. If I am, I don’t care so much, because the “unusual” cultures are refreshing, setting this world apart from so many other’s I’ve read (and written). There is much to get accustomed to, but it isn’t a chore or a challenge to sink into the world and characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the differences in Rezzian and Pawelon cultures when compared to the bulk of fantasy I come across.

Another thing that really struck me was how tight the timeline was for these events. So much in media, not just books, is all about doing things bigger. Bigger battles, bigger wars… I mean seriously, the third Hobbit movie spent 45 minutaes trying to outdo itself over and over again in battle epicness. So to have an entire novel that spans a narrow timeline, in a war that’s already spanned a decade, when the bulk of the fighting has already happened, it a great change from the norm. Even so, it is by no means a boring book. It’s proof that you don’t have to go nuts trying to outdo what’s been done before. There is nothing wrong with more subdued but tense action.


In pretty much every way, Siregar breaks up the “usual” when it comes to fantasy. He doesn’t write down to the reader, but at the same time, he’s informative in the right ways to bring the reader into his world. He doesn’t rely on the “outsider” to inform the reader about the world. He brings the reader along, handing out details as needed or to add the color for the world itself. There are moments that left me a little baffled, but they weren’t common or serious. 

I think the biggest challenge in reading The Black God’s War is in keeping events straight. The issues I had in names and sides were minor, but they did add up. The names Caio and Rao kept getting confused in my head for some reason, even though I knew which was which. Secondary characters, like Briraji, Indrajit, and Duilio, blended in my head for whatever reason, more their roles than their names. And while I loved Siregar’s treatment of important moments— displaying them more than once from different points of view— it did get a little repetitive toward the end of the novel. Even so, it was a great technique to get me to keep reading rather than stopping. I wanted to see all sides of events, and Siregar is great at keeping the reader turning pages.

My Thoughts

The Black God’s War shattered a lot of fantasy stereotypes (or traditions, or tropes, or foundations, or whatever you want to call them). Siregar has taken the tired thought of a fantasy book about war and torn it down to its most bare blocks. Then he rebuilt it from the bones up and used a whole different set of paints and fabrics to dress it up. The result is a novel that is both a little bit of a challenge and a great bit of a pleasure to read. It’s hard to get bored with The Black God’s War, although I did have to read it in smaller sessions rather than a big binge session. It made me pay more attention to it than if he’d used some of the more common fantasy elements. This is brilliant on Siregar’s part, as I gave his book much more brainpower and consideration than I have others. He captured my mind early and refused to let go. I’m eager to see more in this world.

Would I Recommend This Book? Oh, so very yes! Besides the fact that it breaks a lot of old habits in the fantasy genre, it’s a solid book with a intriguing, complex plot. Considering the majority of the plot takes place during a war that’s grown stagnant with those fighting it, it all feels fresh and new to the reader, and there’s nothing that gets tedious or predictable. There are great possibilities in warmaking presented in this book, and aside from that, it’s highly entertaining. I give The Black God’s War a deific 4 of 5 stars.

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