War God Rising by Tim Marquitz

War God Rising by Tim Marquitz is a stand-alone comedic heroic fantasy that takes all of those long standing heroic fantasy tropes we know and love, like farm boys and prophecies, embraces them, and then pokes fun at them. If you have had your fill of heavy / serious / dark fantasy, you should look to War God Rising as an opportunity to read something light-hearted, fun and just a little juvenile. I've always thought the one thing missing from heroic fantasy was a well formed fart joke with a nice heady aroma.

The story follows two con-artists, Bess and Kaede, as they look to secure a champion to fight for them at the War God tournament. In a small backwards village in the middle of nowhere, Bess and Kaede stumble across a powerfully built strapping young farm boy named Sand, whose head is filled with not much more than his namesake, and who has a penchant for farm animals of the wooly variety. Bess and Kaede plan on cheating the War God tournament to earn a payday that will finally allow them to enter retirement, and Sand might just be the perfect patsy to make this happen.

I should start by saying that War God Rising is imbued with the same humour that you can find in Marquitz's Demon Squad series - a unique blend of witty social commentary, terrible dad-jokes, over-the-top sexual innuendo, and more. If that type of humour doesn't appeal to you, the book probably won't work for you. But, for the rest of us awesome lovers of high and low brow humour, the jokes come thick and fast (like many other substances in the book), and while some of them miss their mark, most of them made me laugh out loud and draw disturbing side-eyes from my wife who was sitting next to me reading some sort of romance murder-mystery book.

The characters themselves are deeply flawed and rather damaged individuals, hard to get behind because they have quite the knack for acting like jerks. That said, I had a lot of time for Bess, the main character, who gives so much more than she gets, and has no qualms about doing what is necessary to get the job done. Sand plays the big dumb lump of muscle, who at times I felt sorry for because of his lack of situational awareness. And Kaede, he is a very cool character who spends a lot of the book being a parody of that dark, mysterious, yet highly competent mentor. I wanted to know more about him, more about his life as a pit-fighter, more about his weird relationship with Bess and how they came to be working together at all. These three characters provide a great lens through which we can examine the finer points of heroic fantasy, particularly those overused tropes that in need of a good ridiculing.

War God Rising is a light hearted book intended to be enjoyed over a couple of reading sessions, designed to elicit a few laughs at the expense of the genre we all know and love. I know I can't speak for Marquitz himself, but I don't think he is trying to rail against the system with this book, given he writes a lot of heavy books himself, I think he's just trying to provide an alternative to all the darkness that seems to be permeating fantasy at the moment. It is good to have alternatives like this, they provide a measure of catharsis  that allows us to go back into those dark worlds with renewed vigour. For that reason alone, I would recommend this book. That I happen to think the book is hilarious is just an added bonus.

9/10 War God Rising is a light hearted book intended to be enjoyed over a couple of reading sessions

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