Recommended Age: 18+
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Tags: Diversity, Magic, Mythology, Religion, Romance, Royalty, War
- Graphic violence: Battle scenes involving death and explosions, physical and mental attacks, possession, cannibalism, details of bodily self-harm and torture, allusions to human sacrifice.
- Moderate language: Consistent swearing, including a few F bombs.
- Moderate sexuality: Detailed kissing scenes and brief undressing, same sex relationship.
“What if the gods you worship aren’t gods at all?”
Nadya is haunted by silence. Ever since she killed the Tranavian king, and discovered the depth of her own magic, her gods have not whispered to her. She’ll do anything to reclaim her holy title and restore her gods’ place in the world, but her gods leave her with more questions than answers and she’s beginning to suspect that her power is more terrifying than anything of this world. She, Serefin, Parijahan, and Rashid track down Malachiasz so they can make a long journey across countries and finish what they started. But Serefin’s throne is hanging by a thread, as is his sanity as his mind becomes cluttered with the voices of gods long since banished. In order to free his mind he needs Malachiasz, whose obsession with power has pushed his body past mortality and into something dark and lethal.
The girl, the prince, and the monster journey through an ancient forest and face old evils that never should have awoken. But as they face their past mistakes, and make plenty of new ones, they have to decide if what they fight for is worth the risk, and worth their lives.
Wicked Saints is bloody and dark and magical, but Ruthless Gods takes that to a whole new level. There are rivers of blood, altars of blood, eyes full of blood… just blood everywhere. There’s some gruesome violence, involving both hearts and eyes, and lots of meddling from monstrous gods. Anyone who gets squeamish about blood, injuries, or body parts being outside of the body probably has not made it to this point in the series.
This book focuses on Nadya as she works to fix her mistakes and once again become a dutiful cleric, but the discovery of her magic has taken her too far from her path and she can no longer be trusted by the faithful. She believes she is trying to understand her magic, but honestly she’s really good at ignoring her magic and the truth it holds until it blows up in her face. Her dedication to her gods makes her blind to reality, and as she learns more and more about her destiny and the creatures who have a hand in her life, she becomes more reckless. She clings to her old beliefs, and it makes her easy to manipulate.
Her relationship with Malachiasz continues to be baffling and darkly delightful, and the journey she takes to bring him back to her is one of the best parts of the book. They are both too cunning and secretive to have a peaceful relationship, and their end goals will never align. Their kissing scenes are somehow both steamy and bloody, and their love for each other brings out violence as well as vulnerability.
Serefin struggles with his now gods-touched mind, and it is driving him insane. He has even less control over himself than Nadya, and it does not make his transition to king easy. As Serefin leaves his home and once more ventures into Kalyazi, he meets Katya. She’s a very unexpected sort, and a great addition to this already very odd powerful group. Her friendship with Serefin shows interesting parallels between the warring countries in a much more subtle way than we see in Nadya and Malachiasz. Serefin’s struggle is much more internal, and doesn’t always lash out quite as noticeably as his friend’s magic might.
We also get to know a bit more about Parijahan, and the past she’s running away from. Parj and Rashid are the light-hearted humor and composure in all the chaos, but they have just as many secrets as everyone else. They are minor characters, but the way they always seem to be on the edge of things while still in control makes them deeply fascinating.
The plot twists from castles to mines to monasteries to forests, riddled with lies and plots and death. Emily Duncan seems to use the witch Pelageya to cackle at her own destructive creation as her characters make bigger messes and messier betrayals.
After all, wicked saints serve ruthless gods.
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