“She was a weapon, a crude weapon, ready to take her Blessing from the gods to her enemies.”
Pitched as “The Wheel of Time meets Redwall”, The Rest to the Gods is an incredibly intriguing and captivating prequel novella that provides a tantalising glimpse into Joshua Walker’s upcoming The Song of the Sleepers series.
Told through two alternating timelines, about a hundred years apart, we intimately get to know the (totally badass) Sleeper Nischia as she learns to grapple with her powers and fights to find her place in a war-torn world. On the surface, this is a thrilling and action-packed fantasy adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But if you dig just a little deeper, you’ll find a soul-stirring tale of bravery, sacrifice, duty, overcoming fears, and powerful self-discovery.
I’ll admit that the first chapter of The Rest to the Gods can feel a bit overwhelming, as Walker just throws you into the deep end and doesn’t hold back on the in-world terminology. However, this is one of those stories where that feeling of slight bewilderment and confusion only works to its benefit.
And what’s more, just being patient and trusting the author more than pays off in The Rest to the Gods. Within just a couple of gripping chapters, Walker is able to establish a rich and intriguing world, a positively entrancing atmosphere, and a cast of vibrant and dynamic characters with beautifully complex relationships.
I did personally prefer the past timeline digging into Nischia’s troubled youth over the present war-focused timeline, but only because I generally enjoy a more character/emotion-driven narrative rather than one driven by action, battle, and adventure. Yet the way that these two storylines complimented each other was quite impressive, and resulted in one of the more satisfying and powerful journeys of character growth that I have ever read, especially in a novella.
There is simply so much packed into The Rest to the Gods, and it is truly beyond me how Walker managed to tell a fantasy story that feels both familiar and comfortable yet also completely unique and bewildering. From the vivid and immersive scenery in the Aobian forests, to the fascinating symbiotic relationship that the Sleepers have with the Great Tree in which they live, to the culture of the non-human, anthropomorphized Nestlers, and to the cinematic Luminosity/Orb magic system itself; these are just a few of the wholly original concepts that filled me with wonder and left me hungering for more in the best way possible.
Whether you are a true fantasy veteran or a newbie to the genre, I think The Rest to the Gods is an excellent way to get a taste of the exciting creativity and beauty that the modern fantasy genre has to offer. I will personally be counting down the days until book 1 in The Song of the Sleepers series, An Exile of Water & Gold, hits the shelves. Walker is without a doubt an author to watch!
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