Inconsistently written and poorly edited
My confusing relationship with British fantasy novelist Tom Lloyd’s ‘The God Fragments’ series continues with the fourth entry in the series, God of Night. Published late-2020, I finally managed to get around to reading it this year and, while I continue to enjoy the series and the characters, I nevertheless remain unconvinced by the author’s prose.
The series has followed the topsy-turvy events of Lynx, a burly hungry mercenary, part of the mercenary company Anatin’s Mercenary Deck – which has used the concept of a deck of cards to organise its members. It’s a wonderful idea, both narratively clever and tactically brilliant, and I continue to relish any opportunity spent in their company.
However, the actions over recent history of Anatin’s Mercenary Deck, better known simply as the Cards, has resulted in a change to the way magic works in the world, and for better or worse, the Cards are trying to make sure things don’t go completely to hell.
What follows in God of Night, then, is a rollicking adventure of betrayal and secrets, bloodshed and relic hunting and monsters. The Cards are good at their job and, having come from some really close calls and suffered several painful losses, they’re ready to do whatever it takes to make sure it wasn’t all for nothing. Lloyd has obviously come to enjoy certain characters more than others, but one of the most impressive aspects of the character development through this series is the way in which Deern has slowly evolved from a character we expect to betray everyone, into someone who is just crusty, was probably always just crusty, but is nevertheless bloody good at his job, and respects those who are also bloody good at their jobs.
Ostensibly the last in the four-book series, God of Night cleanly wraps up events such that there is both a clean break, as well as the potential for more in the future, without relying on an annoying cliff-hanger. I do want to see more from this series and these characters, especially with the direction Lloyd has pointed the Cards, but whether or when is another question entirely.
Nevertheless, Lloyd’s writing has remained inconsistent. The middle two books of the series – Princess of Blood and Knight of Stars – reached heavily contrived conclusions, relying too heavily on the author forcing events to suit his planned ending. Similarly, throughout the whole series there have been numerous editorial issues – grammar, spelling, and structural issues. In God of Night particularly, Lloyd’s preferred “Then” and “Now” storytelling method – where the first part of the story happens in the future, before falling back into the past and catching up to that original starting point – was poorly handled, with no indication that “Then” had reverted to “Now”, leaving the reader confused halfway through the book as to when something was happening.
The inconsistent storytelling and editorial issues have remained an issue throughout the whole series, which simply should not happen these days, and as a result by the time I was rounding the corner of the last third of the book, I was more and more dispirited and found the going much tougher than when I began. It can be difficult for a reader to always be making allowances for the author and ignoring glaring editorial errors, when all we want to do is to get lost in a rich and captivating story.
Which is what God of Night would have been, were it not for these problems. Lloyd has always had me captivated by this story and the characters involved, weaving for me a more enjoyable gritty mercenary story than some of the genre’s more popular names. But, at the end of the day, if the flaws can’t be ironed out of the story, then the reader will suffer.
God of Night was again inconsistently written and poorly edited, which is a shame, because it was otherwise a rollicking good time and a fantastic ending to a fascinating series.
Review by Joshua S Hill
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