Godblind has the potential to capture the world's imagination, and satisfy its blood-lust, every bit as much as A Song of Fire and Ice.
Fire and Ice comparisons are inevitable and justified. Godblind has violence worthy of The Sopranos, enough swearing to make The Thick Of It proud, and torture to rival the Saw franchise. The "silver dots" sacrifice is particularly nasty and will make male readers cross their legs and wince.
(What's more, the Godblind trilogy will probably conclude long before we get our hands on The Winds of Winter. Let's be honest, Thrones fans, it's never happening!)
The structure in particular recalls Fire and Ice, with character-centric chapters written in close third person, alternating between a core group of viewpoints. However, unlike Martin, these chapters are short and swift, like a Dan Brown novel but good. Godblind is all killer, no filler, and Stephens doesn't waste a single page.
This structure facilitates the frenetic pace of the novel, in which tides constantly turn between the heroic Rilporians who worship the Light and the invading Mireces who worship the Dark.
There is lots to admire about Stephens' writing: dark humour, a gritty grounded fantasy world, and an impressive array of three-dimensional characters. If you subscribe to my theory that you can never have too many characters, then you will devour Godblind with relish.
And the descriptions of the battles are first-class. Action is famously hard to write, as I learnt when writing Besti Bori, but Stephens makes you feel every blow and taste the blood - although that might be because your heart is in your mouth. This is nail-biting stuff.
I am already looking forward to the television adaptation. HBO will need a new project after Thrones wraps next year and Godblind is ripe to fill that void. They better start stockpiling fake blood now. They're going to need it.
The Red Gods are rising and so is Anna Stephens. She has entered the canon of fantasy literature by kicking down the door with a bloody axe in each hand. And Godblind is just the beginning.
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