Dead God’s Due by Matt Gilbert
Review by Noelle Nichols
This book surprised me, and not quite in a good way. I had absolutely no idea where it was going at first, and I didn’t even fully understand the point of the prologue until the end of the book, which had me questioning why it was even included. The beginning prologue and first chapters usually give you a good impression of what’s to come, and I was a little blind-sided by what this story turned into.
My overall impression of the first part of this book was very Romanesque world, but the book suddenly shifts about six or so chapters into the novel to be more of a political, game of thrones cut-throat world where it’s about backstabbing and betrayal between houses. I personally enjoyed the beginning of this book more because I enjoyed the details of the world and the adventure of those characters as opposed to pages and pages of dialog and people yelling at one another.
Matt Gilbertt has a wonderful gift for description, which I wish came more through in the latter half of the book, though there wasn’t much opportunity for it. The last half basically takes place in the same setting, leaving no room for details other than facial expressions and colorful language. There are, however, some wonderful passages where you’re completely transported into the world with fresh details throughout the book, but they are few, and I find it a shame because I enjoyed them a lot.
The writing style, when the settings calls for it, is rich and detailed. The dialogue is well written. There were a couple on instances where more “modern” phrases and clichés were used (birthday cake, “sue me”, “pale in comparison”, pregnancy test, “need to know basis”), which kind of pulled me out of the original impression of the Roman world where very archaic words are used. Personally, I hate most modern phrases and words in fantasy, unless it’s in an Urban fantasy setting, and if I were beta-reading this, I would have noted them to be thought about by the author.
Totally a personal preference, but I was digging the ancient Roman feel to it.
I thought the story, once it veered off from the beginning, played out at good pace. There were a few scene changes I felt were too rush, particularly nearing the end where the character POV could have benefitted from being a little longer. This story is told in third person, omniscient, but with direct character thoughts which allow us a glimpse inside the characters’ heads to feel closer to them. This was very well done by the author, and I enjoyed that aspect.
The main plot mostly revolved around the Southlanders (the original main characters of the story) traveling to another place in hopes of discovering the ancient evil foretold by the prophecy (in an attempt to stop war, I believe—it was a little vague). There they meet the people living there who are afraid that is why they came and the political turmoil ensues.
I had a few characters I really liked, particularly the Southlander more Roman-type people. They were proud warriors, just like the Spartans, but we don’t get to see too much of their story after the shift. Maybe in book two? I liked their crude humor.
Despite all my critique, I did enjoy what the story ended up as. I feared for the characters’ lives, enjoyed the small respites and saw a world created by a talented author. My hopes for the the next book is that we get back to the magic and the power of the Meites that is barely touched upon in the first book. It’s hard to say where the second book will go, but judging from the first, I would say we’re heading back on course to the prophecy.