You will be a phantom killer. A merciless shadow. A god among mortal men.
- Release date : April 5th 2022
- Publishing house : Orbit
- Series : The Vagrant Gods
- Pages : 512
Cyrus : Living happily with his parents, he had never imagined that his island could be attacked by the Empire. Everything crumbles down and he’s just kept alive to show that the previous prince accepts them. A few years of training with the head of a revolutionary group will help him get back his island.
What I loved about him is the duality within him. All along the book, he wonders if he’s ready to lose his humanity for his revenge. Some disputable actions by Thorda will make Cyrus sever his ties with him.
The rebellion abhored the way Paragons were made as ten seeds (people who had a strong faith) were sacrificed to give to another person powers way beyond what a human should be capable. But without telling anyone, Thorda told the empire that they’ll be able to find several important members of the resistance in a house and these people were captured and were to be hanged. The resistance planned to free them but someone in their ranks betrayed them and forty people were hanged, giving to Cyrus the powers of their faith and making him a paragon.
“To wear that new face. To become a heroic killer stalking the streets of Vallessau. You will be a rumor at first, one we will seed with whispers in the right ears in the right places. You’ll fight alongside my chosen elite as their figurehead leader, and receive all the glory for your combined exploits. Together, you will challenge even paragons. With every kill, you will make real the rumors that we have sown. And then our whispers will change. Who might this killer be? What identity does the cloak and skull hide?
We also follow other characters such as Stasia, Mari (both daughters of Thorda) and Rayan Vayisa (a paladin serving Cyrus’ family, Arn (a paragon turned traitor), Magus (the imperator) and Sinshei (in charge of the church here). Some had several chapters while others only had one or two.
I loved reading about Mari’s transformation. She is a kind-hearted young woman and a god-whisperer, meaning she can ask the gods to lend her their power. She asked Endarius (a lion-shaped god) to wield his power to help the rebellion. If at first, she dislikes the taste of blood and everything that goes with killing someone, she gradually comes to relish hunting and killing and it makes her terrifying too.
When I hunt, there is pleasure in the blood upon my tongue… War makes monsters of us all, but that is why I become the Lioness. I hunt so no one else must be a monster. I hunt so others may know peace, and love, and live in the joy of their gods and the beauty of their rituals. For me, that is enough to grant my soul peace.
Situated far from the Everlorn empire, Thanet thrives under the rule of Cyrus’ parents. One day, this powerful empire sets their eyes on them and their resistance is futile in the face of such a force. During the attack, most of their forces are killed, their navy they were so proud of is destroyed and Cyrus’ parents along with the two gods protecting this place are dead or imprisoned. Held as a political prisoner ever since, Cyrus witnessed the work of the empire to destroy his culture and impose their own culture.
A chance to reconquer his island will come when Thorda Ahlai, a wealthy merchant from a conquered nation called Miquo, plots to save the goddess from being killed and ends up saving him instead. This man and his daughters will put him through arduous training to turn him into the figurehead of their rebellion.
I don’t want a prisoner. I have no need of a slave. I want a weapon. I want a god of death the empire one day fears. Is that you?
Personally, I prefer more interactions and world-building for the first book and it was a bit unbalanced. For instance, I really wanted Keles and Cyrus to further their relations! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the action scenes. The way he built the tension was well-done.
As for the magic system, it is faith-based. As I’ve said above, the paragons are the result of the sacrifice of ten believers whose faith was stronger than others. Other people can use the faith they have in their respective gods to improve their physical abilities. If one believes enough, miracles can happen and greatly enhance their abilities.
It’s the first book I’ve read by David Dalglish since his series Seraphim, which I loved. I think he did a good job in creating characters I was interested in. Each character has something that embodies them: revenge for Cyrus and Thorda, faith for Rayan and love for Mari and Stasia. The end of the book got me excited for the second book!