“After ten years on the run, dodging daemons and debt, reviled magician Edrin Walker returns home to avenge the brutal murder of his friend. Lynas had uncovered a terrible secret, something that threatened to devour the entire city. He tried to warn the Arcanum, the sorcerers who rule the city. He failed.
Lynas was skinned alive and Walker felt every cut. Now nothing will stop him from finding the murderer. Magi, mortals, daemons, and even the gods – Walker will burn them all if he has to.
After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s killed a god…”
Thanks given to Netgalley and Angry Robot for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve had my eye on The Traitor God ever since I saw the stunning cover art by Jan Weßbecher, so when the opportunity came to review an advance copy I all but jumped at the chance. In basic terms this is a revenge story wrapped in a mystery, and told against the backdrop of a living, breathing epic fantasy world.
I have to admit that reading this book was a strange experience for me. Johnston does a fantastic job of setting the scene, introducing our protagonist Edrin Walker, and paving the way for Edrin’s bloody revenge. And no time is wasted throwing Edrin into unravelling the mystery surrounding his friend’s murder, and the mystery surrounding his own murky past deeds. This all sounds right up my street, however there were times when I didn’t feel invested in the story because I kept noticing discrepancies in Edrin’s character. I found this jarring, but the worldbuilding and magic of Johnston’s world were enough to keep me reading on. And I’m very glad I did!
After about the halfway mark, the story really kicks up a gear and I found myself itching to read on. The stakes keep climbing and the worldbuilding and magic truly come into their own. There’s a wonderful coarseness and vivacity to the world Johnston has created, and the magic and monsters featured are as horrific as they are fascinating. And I’m glad to say that some of the issues I had with Edrin’s character were addressed later in the book which made me appreciate the first half more in retrospect.
The finale is truly epic, and about as thrilling as they come. And Johnston raises some questions and possibilities for future instalments that have me incredibly excited to read on. I’d be a tad worried that some readers experiencing the same issue regarding the depiction of Edrin in the first half of the novel may give up on The Traitor God, but I’d recommend any fans of gritty, epic fantasy with a leaning toward horror to stick with it. The book really does reward the commitment.
Overall, I give The Traitor God four out of five stars. And I can’t wait to read a sequel!
I really liked it.