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Idols Fall by Mike Shel (Iconoclasts #3)

9/10 Idols Fall is a god-murdering, throne-grabbing, dungeon crawling rip of a read.

"We would wish you godspeed, but that seems ill-suited for your endeavor. So instead, we wish you success and a safe return, without appeal to any gods. We are all of us toppling idols. They have already fallen in the hearts and minds of those who are privy to your dark revelation. But you, you will bring them crashing down before you, in person. You will be the greatest revolutionary the world has ever known. But remember this, Sir Agnes Manteo: history remembers its iconoclasts, but not always fondly."

Mike Shel’s Iconoclasts series has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis over its three volumes. Aching God drew me in with its layered history, focused plot, terrific dungeons, and a well-developed cast of heroes and gods. Sin Eater shattered boundaries, introducing us to an expansive world with shifting environments, dangerous quests, new character focus and a bombshell ending that changed everything. If Aching God was a D&D module then Sin Eater was a full-fledged campaign. Idols Fall had some big shoes to fill. Well, it’s time to sharpen your swords and lather your horses, because Idols Fall is a god-murdering, throne-grabbing, dungeon crawling rip of a read. There is a balanced mix of heart and horror, and a nagging dread that anything could happen on any given page. And it often did.  

While there are many stories that reference mad gods, this book leans further in by telling the story of humans on a path of vengeance to kill these devious deities. We rejoin Agnes Manteo and her talking Djao sword right where Sin Eater ended, returning from her long journey. Meanwhile, Ilanda, the rightful crown heiress, attempts to claim her throne after her kingdom descends into chaos following the fallout of the last book’s events. While Agnes aims to return to the Barrowlands for her mission of wrath with companions new and old, Ilanda and her distant, border-defending uncle try to quell a horror-infused rebellion from a meddlesome rival kingdom. There is also a new wild card sect of religious fanatics who are torching cities across the land, because why would anyone need a breather in all this chaos. Tough rookie season for Ilanda, no doubt. 

"Agnes’ faith was in tatters, too, but how would she feel if she had dedicated her entire life to a god’s cause, knowing that it was all a deception, a sordid con?"

Welcome scenes of philosophy, humor, odd character moments, and sheer madness are spread throughout the story. A hilarious dinner party that was two parts Mad Hatter and one part Hannibal had me wide-eyed and grinning like a fool. There was some excellent political puppeteering from Ghallo, the Machiavellian jailer boy. I was surprised by an unexpected and lengthy battle filled with horrifying monsters and bloody twists. And there was a fist-pumping moment of fantasy FaceTime that I won’t soon forget.

Before writing Iconoclasts, Mike Shel has had a storied career writing adventures and scenarios for the Pathfinder RPG, and his experience shows. His polished, tight prose, precise tone, and excellent character work is quite frankly amazing – not just for a debut series, but for any trilogy of its kind. As an avid role player and lover of party-led quests, his first book roped me in; by the end of the Idols Fall, Shel managed to subvert my expectations and craft a story that combined the best of his first two books while adding new layers of politics, philosophy, and mayhem. Although I loved the end of Ilanda’s story, I thought Agnes’ ending was a bit jilted. There were a couple of questionable decisions that stood out about reasons for traveling to a certain area, as well as something spoilery at the very end that niggled at my brain, but that is all a drop in the bucket to what has proven itself to be a phenomenal series that any fan of dark fantasy will love. Whether you’re a fan of RPGs and want to immerse yourself in the crown jewel of an expert storyteller, or if you’re simply looking for a rousing adventure filled with ancient religions, dark beings, cursed ruins, land and sea battles, world-spanning crusades, shocking twists, horror, humor, and characters you’ll love and cry for, then you’ve found your series.  

Review by

Mike Shel's Iconoclasts series


Aching God

Iconoclasts #1
8/10

Sin Eater

Iconoclasts #2
9/10

Idols Fall

Iconoclasts #3
9/10

Idols Fall reader reviews

from US

Great book... love how the story run...

9/10 from 2 reviews

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