Review: God’s Last Breath
I’ve never really gotten into comic books — Ahem. Excuse me — “Graphic novels”. Hey, gimme a break. I’m a child of the 80s and old habits die hard. Anyhow, where was I? Oh yes. I’ve never really been that into graphic novels. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve read a few. And ElfQuest was one series that I voraciously devoured when I first stumbled upon it. Still, despite my very meagre affair with this medium, I can’t help but feel like I need to make a comparison between this book and a graphic novel. I’m fairly certain it’s the fact that the author’s writing style is so visual and visceral that does it for me. It’s what makes this book read like a really detailed graphic novel. The simplicity of his words to imagery. The strong dependence on character to relay the story. I’m not sure exactly. Whatever it is though, no one else does it quite like Sam Sykes.
GOD’S LAST BREATH is the third and final book in the Bring Down Heaven trilogy, but the sixth book in the string of “adventures” for our favorite bunch of characters. Stands to reason that I’ll probably have a spoiler or two in this review for previous books in the series. So, if you haven’t read those yet, you can find some links at the bottom of the page for them. Just be sure to cover your eyes as you scroll.
As with previous novels in the series, the story revolves around the six characters of interest: Lenk the sword-wielding adventurer, Kataria the shict (violent elf), Asper the Priestess, Dreadaeleon the magic user (don’t call him a wizard), Gariath the dragonman (what exactly is a “dragoman” Mr. auto-correct?), and Denaos the rogue-thief-assassin. They’ve all sort of been wandering apart from one another for the large majority of this series after having tailed their source of payment for a job-well-done to the merchant city of Cier’Djaal. After splitting up for their various reasons, they’ve found numerous other things to keep them busy and us entertained.
A serious plethora of races, factions, and rampant animosity have turned the city into a maelstrom of violence and war. At the beginning of the novel, some of our characters are lounging with near god-like beings, while others are being tortured near to the point of death, while yet others are leading even more violence and mayhem toward the very doors of this once-great city. And though they are spread far and wide, the crux of the story has revolved around this city. Thus it is that all of the adventurers that initially came to this city as a group will gather to it again once more. And the city will be all the worse for it, as the various forces swirling around each of them clashes in a massive battle of death and destruction.
Said like that, the plot seems pretty simple, and I guess it really is. But it’s action-packed and oodles of fun. The super cool part of this book though is how much more development of the world we get. If there’s anything that the previous book have been lacking in, it’s world-driven back-story context. This go around, Lenk interacts with some divinely powerful stuff after the end of the last book where he released the great demon, Khoth-Kapira. A lot of his arc relays in abundance the relationship between the extremely powerful gods, and aeons, and demons of the world to the humans and other various races within it. Gariath’s continued interactions with the tulwar and their grievances against the humans that will ultimately lead them to war. The structure and political machinations within the Venarium (magic users guild…sort of). We also get several glimpses into the minds and motives behind the curtain, so to speak, that seem to be pulling the strings. While there are some that want this war to happen, there are others that will stand by, incredibly powerful all, and stick to their promise to no longer interfere.
A few of the characters make some fairly drastic changes as well. Sykes has been building a couple of these for a few books now. Asper’s change was the one that really surprised me. Dreadaeleon’s kind of came out of left-field, but solidified for me the idea that there’s yet more going on behind the curtain that we haven’t become privy to. Whilst the changes of these two were very much about outside forces working upon them though, Lenk’s change was very much internalized as he makes some very difficult decisions about who he is and what he wants out of life. He left the boat with his companions at the entrance of Cier’Djall wanting to put an end to his life of adventuring and violence. We don’t usually get what we want out of life though. There’s always another mother of a curveball to be thrown, and they usually end up hitting you up-side the head at 90+ mph.
As I was reading, there were quite a few instances where I’d find something that I didn’t particularly care for. I didn’t keep a list of them all or anything, but I remember several times throughout the book where if I hadn’t been having such a freaking great time reading the book that they might have started to bother me. But I found it almost impossible to let any of those minor annoyances build up because of how often I found myself laughing out loud, getting the chills, or making that decision to read just one more page before closing my book and heading back to the office after lunch.
Overall, just as much fun as its predecessors. Sykes continues to write great stories that are wildly entertaining and brilliant-good fun. Can’t wait for the next, Sam!
- Recommended Age: 18+
- Language: Lots and frequent and frequently hilarious
- Violence: Squishy, bloody, rampant, ubiquitous
- Sex: Enough to keep it on par with the other two ratings here