Gateway of the Saviours by AJ Dalton

(8.3/10) Thanks to its rich tapestry of characters and incident there is never a dull moment.

Jillan and his companions have won the battle of Godsend, and an uneasy peace has settled on their remote corner of the Empire. But the Saviours cannot allow such resistance to go unpunished, and embark on a series of punitive assaults on the few who have rejected their reign. With his friends scattered and his reason for fighting taken away from him, Jillan is faced with new and terrible decisions to make. Tricked into a bargain with the manipulative God of Mayhem, Jillan embarks on a new journey, aware that he leaves his hometown undefended. Unsure of his fellow travellers, barely in control of his magic, tied to a destiny he is only beginning to understand, things have never seemed bleaker. And from another realm, the Declension watches. Their servants, the Saviours, have suffered setbacks. The God of Mayhem is loose. A young boy with remarkable powers is on his way to Haven, where he may find a way to destroy them. A renegade member of their race is rampaging through their realms. Everything is going to plan.

I must say I was curious but also a little daunted by this epic fantasy adventure. There is a lot going on and lots of people to learn about. Thanks to author A J Dalton’s writing style and a healthy dose of humour mixed in with the action, I soon managed to find my feet, even without reading the first entry in this series.

Like most fantasy fare, there is magic as well as Physical combat. Dalton makes sure the reader understands and appreciates how desperate and important each struggle is, and the implications for his characters. Thankfully the sardonic humour and banter lightens the tone as this is quite harrowing at times.

The gods are conniving and sly, so expect lots of plotting and layers of intrigue. Apart from Saint Praxis and his minions who, by their deeds, are clearly beyond the pale, it is hard to know who to trust. Praxis is a vile, corrupt, amoral villain, who thinks nothing of torturing and murdering entire villages to achieve his goals.

Other notable characters are Samnir, a bold, but aging warrior; Torpeth, a wise yet cranky old man, who hides his vast knowledge behind a veil of eccentricity and colourful language and Ba’zel, a being who is just realising the consequences of the power he wields and understanding the huge responsibility he has.

Apart from the central character of Jillan, there are plenty of well-drawn and multi-layered characters, all wrestling with their own problems and demons. It is hefty at 466 pages, but thanks to its rich tapestry of characters and incident there is never a dull moment.

Gateway of the Saviours by A J Dalton
Published 2013 by Gollancz
ISBN: 978 0 575 12318 2

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