Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2020
War of Men is the extraordinary 5th evolution of the Buried Goddess Saga, following on from ‘Way of Gods’.
War of Men does not disappoint, with a fast-paced book full of action, powerful, emotive characters, and a gripping storyline that not only leaves you wanting more, but takes you on a rollercoaster ride through a full spectrum of emotions.
As with each of the other books, the story is told from the point of view of the various characters: ‘The Goddess’ (Nesilia – the Buried Goddess Herself), ‘The Thief’ – Whitney Fierstown, ‘The Knight’ – Torsten Unger, ‘The Rebel’ – Muskigo, ‘The Daughter’ – Mahraveh Ayerahi, ‘The Immortal’ - Kazimir. and finally, ‘The Redeemer’ – Sir Rand Langley.
This book sees Nesilia really come into her own as she seems to fully grasp the power that Sora is able to give her. It is fascinating watching a deity walk the land, and having those that believe fall to their knees, whilst those that don’t foolishly try to stand up to her, only to feel her wrath. Nesilia truly has returned, and the world is in a lot of trouble for it. One of the really fun things in this book is that there are all these little clues to her return, various creatures that no one has seen forever and things like this, all rising, or coming together as they know their God has returned, but no one else understands what it means. It is these little extras that show the depth of thought that has gone into this story, the world building surrounding the characters, it is just brilliant.
Meanwhile, Whitney continues his desperate mission to find Sora, with the help of Kazimir and what is left of the Troupe, but he will not relent as he knows that she is alive, and that her soul is within her body. Worse still, he knows that it is Nesilia that inhabits her, and he knows he has to do everything in his power to stop her.
On the Black Sands, Muskigo battles with Babrak for control in the absence of the Caleef. Muskigo is also fueled by grief and anger, thinking that his sand mouse is dead. Of course, she is not, Mahi is happily crushing Glassman wherever she goes, as well as any of her own people stupid enough to oppose her.
The sheer scale of the story, the world building, the culture and history that has gone into those of the Black Sands is just amazing, and makes for a fascinating part of this series. Each of the characters, from Babrak, to Muskigo, to the beautiful but deadly Mahi, and even all the minor characters, are just fascinating. This is one of the truly exceptional parts of this series.
One of the truly outstanding characters in this series has been Torsten Unger, who has gone from being the Wearer of White, and leader of the Knights, he has been a prisoner at times and never given up, he has lost his sight, and with it, his position, his ability to fight, and to a large extent, his entire ‘Self’, but he has continued, and even through it all, he has been true to Iam. As a reward, he is gifted with a cloth of sight from a Priest of Iam, someone who you would not expect to bestow such an honour, but none the less, he does, and when the cloth is tied around Torstens eyes, he can see again. For those that have played any DnD there is the Character of a Paladin, a Holy Knight who earns the favour of a God through their acts of virtue, honour, courage, and fighting evil, everything that Torsten is.
This series is only getting better with each book as we move towards the conclusion, in which the forces of good will bring down Nesilia (or the body she inhabits, casting her back to the divine realm), or Nesilia will conquer all of Pantego, and do as she sees fit.
If you are looking for a brilliant fantasy series that has some real depth, not just in its characters, but in its world building and story-telling, this is the series to get into. One thing I really love about this series is that it has direction, the Authors, Bruno and Castle, both know what is going to happen, they have obviously since book 1, and have had it all planned out. Too often in Epic series we see the series fold in on itself as plot lines cross over or get forgotten entirely. But with the Buried Goddess Saga, this is not the case, plot lines are clean, they close off everything they start, and no characters are forgotten, it makes for outstanding reading.
This is one of the best fantasy series out there.