A very interesting but challenging read.
Set over two different timelines, the first in the ‘present day’ which only covers a few days and the other set over a long time. We have two different POV’s, that of Eolo in the present day and that of ‘The Strength and Patience of the Hill’ who is a god which covers the other timeline. Eolo is an advisor to Mawat who is the heir to the Raven god of his country. They are a kind of civil and religious leader who after a certain amount of time are sacrificed to the God. His father is the current ruler. Eolo appears to be a good person though it’s difficult to truly understand him due to the narrative style which I will get to in a bit.
The other POV which I will just refer to as Patience is a god and his narrative takes place over millennia though most of it is set around a hundred years before the current timeline. It’s an interesting voice and I think the author does a good job in showing how detached it is to time and people though that does change.
What makes this book difficult to read is that it is actually told all from the POV of Patience. So even though Eolo is the other main POV it is all told in the second person which can be annoying to read, I bounced off of it a few times in the beginning. You do get used to it somewhat but I am still not a fan of the device and it’s the third book this year in this style (after the first two Broken Earth books)! I understand why the author used it but I definitely think it leaves a detrimental distance between you and the character.
The world itself is really great and that is what makes this book so interesting to read. It’s full of gods and I really loved the actual Patience sections. There is a mystery going on from the start in relation to Mawat’s father which is at the heart of the story and the two main gods of their country, the Raven and the forest god. It delves into the nature of that godhood and what they can do and even more interestingly what their limitations are. The world itself is very primitive though well realised and I like that there is a relatively small cast of characters. FYI don’t read the end sections about characters etc as there are spoilers contained within. Characters are interesting though fairly superficial due to the style.
It’s a fairly quick read once you get into it and I really found myself getting immersed in the story. It’s also a standalone which is a rarity in the fantasy genre. As others have mentioned maybe give a sample a try before buying as the second person telling might not suit but if you’re ok with it this is a great little read with some interesting ideas.
4.5 stars rounded down.