They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom. Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers.
Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry.
To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing.
When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars.
Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar is a dark, bleak, and rewarding read based on Middle Eastern Fantasy with a few Lovecraftian sprinkles on top.
I just read Gunmetal Gods for the second time and have to say that I enjoyed it even more after the reread. The first time, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. It is a dark story. War, loss, intrigue, and devastation, are all explored in such detail that it’s definitely not a book for the faint of heart. But between all of this, you find a fantastic story about morals, making decisions without knowing where they will lead you, friendship, and love. And of course, some magic and fantastical elements that are just plain impressive. After the first read, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But after the second read, I’m ecstatic.
I love the description of the world, the religions, the gods, and the magic. Gunmetal Gods is unlike any other book I’ve read in that regard. He takes inspiration from Middle Eastern culture, religion, and Lovecraft, and packages it into an awe-inspiring story. So, why am I giving it 9 instead of 10 stars? That’s because it has some minor things that I’m missing to make it a 10/10 read.
One aspect is the writing. It is fast-paced and doesn’t give you time to breathe. You won’t experience any info-dumps of the world. Zamil is fantastic in exploring everything while the story is racing past you. This is what made me feel a bit lost during the first read (but the second read really helped). The fast pace is also a bit too fast at times and I caught myself going back a few pages a handful of times to reread a scene. Minor nitpicks in an otherwise great book.
The writing in general is very engaging. The book is written from two perspectives (mainly) – Micah and Kevah. The transition between the chapters and with that the perspective of the narrators is really smooth. Zamil is able to keep you glued to the pages through every detail and step of the journey. He pulled out the unique characteristics of every single person in this world. It is fascinating to see what decisions every character makes and how that influences the overall story. While I wouldn’t call it “purple prose”, there is some ambiguity to it. Zamil definitely has a talent for that.
This book is magical. Zamil did an amazing job sharing his experience and making the Middle Eastern culture understandable for someone who has little to no background in it. He dunks your head into the metaphorical water so you can’t do anything else but be fully immersed in this vivid, colorful world. Gunmetal Gods engulfs you in a whirlwind of colors, smells, and feelings. Unlike Game of Thrones (which it is compared to and I’m not sure that I fully agree) or other more straightforward Western-inspired Fantasy, Middle Eastern fantasy is poetic. And Gunmetal Gods is a great example of this – the music, colors, clothes, smells, food, and even religion – this book embodies all of it.
And in my opinion, this book deserves so much more attention and should be adapted into a TV show or movie.
Just note, there are a few trigger warnings. So, if you’re someone who is sensitive to that, please look them up before reading this book.
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