The Valley of the Gods by Phil Tucker

A rollicking adventure that explores the nature of divinity, the abuse of power, and finding balance between the two
The Valley of the Gods book cover

We all make mistakes. ‘To err is human, to forgive is divine’, or so they say. But what's so great about divinity, anyway? There's constant pressure to do the right thing, or perhaps the power will go to your head. Do you address your followers, or fall silent to their praise and let their faith guide them? What is true divinity, and what should its purpose be? If only there was a book that explored these themes through an Egyptian fantasy adventure that features a crew of half-blooded gods battling their way through hordes of netherworld demons while avoiding assassination in a pharaoh’s court... ah yes, here’s one! Phil Tucker’s The Valley of the Gods, the final book of The Godsblood trilogy, is a rollicking adventure that explores the nature of divinity, the abuse of power, and finding balance between the two.

Between each shining star a fainter star shone, so that the heavens appeared smeared with nacreous specks, like pearls crushed across a slab of obsidian.

Historically, Tucker’s skillful prose and vivid imagination are two of his greatest strengths, and once again they are on full display here. Our heroes face a creative mix of challenges of both mind and body, such as battling undead deep in the netherworlds or surviving a political coup. There are many scenes that feel cinematic in nature, yet the story also provides plenty of philosophizing as well as more than a few scenes of comedy. Anyone who listens to the Crit-Faced podcast will already know what kind of tools Tucker is capable of bringing to a story.

There is one issue that I felt could have been improved upon. Outside of Annara, I didn’t completely like how Kith was portrayed. Her character felt thin. She didn’t have much to say on her own besides supporting her man, and the one opportunity she had to stand up for herself, another man jumped in and spoke for her. We then cut to a different scene instead of hearing what she would have said. Also, I'm not sure if this book passes the Bechdel test.

Overall, I enjoyed this trilogy quite a bit. Setting a fantasy story in an alternate Egypt (or thereabouts) is something I haven’t come across, and Tucker did his homework on making this world feel lifelike and partially based on our own history. The Valley of the Gods is an exceptionally entertaining conclusion to the Godsblood trilogy that asks as many questions as it answers. It’s a lot of fun. New fans and old will find a lot to like here. Go pick it up!

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