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THE GODS ARE BASTARDS

Blends themes almost impossibly.

By aew3, member

Dec 9, 2016: excuse the formatting errors this is from my wordpress – odiumsite@wordpress.com. <em> Set in a world post- “Age of Adventurers” our all-star cast of god-killing archmages, archbishops, paladins, arch-demons, pirate princesses, thieves and otherwise special individuals find their way in a world which finds itself pushing into a world with ethics, morals, viewpoints, governance and culture that is growing remarkably close to a modern, first world nation of today a la Sanderson’s Wax and Wayne trilogy. Sustained by intrigues of a relatively low scale which keep promising to reveal the true stakes, TGaB (as it will be henceforth referred to) is a lesson in how one can keep the stakes realistic when compared to real life whilst keeping maintaining the grandness of old-school fantasy.</em>

<h2>PREVIOUS RATINGS IN SERIES:</h2> n/a : Web Serial, not broken into large enough sub-segments for separate reviewing. Chapters published tri-weekly and split into arcs and volumes. <h2>RATING BREAKDOWN:</h2> Writing: 7/10 Enjoyment: 7/10 Pacing: 5/10 Characters, development and world-building: 10/10 Plot: 5-8/10 Creativity: 10/10 <h2>OVERALL: 7.5/10</h2>

<!—more—> <hr> Forewarning: This serial is uncompleted but is already well established. I am reviewing it as of completing chapter 10-16.

TGaB combines political intrigues, a modernised world, familiar fantasy tropes, and not-grim in a way which I would have thought impossible. There is often very little physical danger to our protagonists. Because in the modern world, violence only solves some things. We are constantly reminded that people who are otherwise good natured in this story can do horrible things in the name of good, bad or their own self-interest, but only reminded – much like we are reminded that there are bigger stakes at play in the background. Our PoVs are either important players on the world stage or powerful students at a university for powerful people. We however are treated to what about to a number of side intrigues in the grand scheme that plays out in the background, of gods and goddesses; age old secrets and conflicts. The players on the chessboard move at the whim of those still mostly unseen, but in this tangled web Webb has created, sometimes the chess pieces are more important. And sometimes the players don’t know what the game is. Subtleties and complexities are what you will find- not only in its often hard to judge characters but also in its yet-to-be-revealed end-game.

This of course does take some time to come to fruition as our initial PoVs- the Unseen University Class of 1182 – who hog most of the early screen time, despite being fascinating characters, who find themselves in this web, are not yet involved directly in it.

Stories love to preach about how morality is not black-and-white. This is one of the better executions of that. There are no real antagonists- Shook and Syrinx are about the only characters of import whom I truly dislike completely – and there are no sides. It’s not a matter of trying to pick sides when they are grey – it’s a matter of finding a definite conflict. The conflicts we can discern as of now don’t have high immediate stakes and are between two sides of shifting goals and morals. Many of the conflicts we only see as one group/individual counteracting another one because they need to curb their power/influence but we don’t know the whys, only the whats. Of course the characterisation is excellent with excellent character development as one might expect given how I praised TGaB’s complexity and nuance.

As a result of many of the aforementioned points, TGaB suffers from a lack of consequences. Death has not been used as a plot device yet, and so far our fight sequences have been unimportant mooks- leaderless and goalless demons sent by unknown powers, Chaos as a magical metaphysical effect, and barely sentient centaurs. I hope that secrets will eventually be revealed and stakes raised, but not yet of course.

Despite, or perhaps due to, its complexity and nuance, TGaB suffers from what I will call plot discrepancies. Not complete holes or errors- it still makes sense- but enough things which just don’t really fit to annoy me. These discrepancies presence in characters themselves may be intetional – to keep us guessing who did what, wants what and therefore needs what. But some of it makes the serial feel comical- larger than life or constructed for a witty one-liner only. Despite how plausibly real this is (minus the magic) as compared to real life, too often it strayed upon the ridiculous, which lessens how well it achieves everything else. The ridiculous is not anywhere near common enough to set the tone, nor is the serious common enough to either.

Have a read. It starts off somewhat slow (and with a fair bit of exposition), and some PoVs might be slow or disinteresting, but most play out, and those that don’t fade away. Give it a few arcs before you give up.

3 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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THE GODS ARE BASTARDS

Absurdly feminist but otherwise fantastic

By Vegetate, member

Nov 26, 2016: Even though I have numerable issues with the story, this story absolutely excels in pretty much every other area. The character interactions are fantastic. At times they are funny and at other times they show humanity and lead to believable and meaningful character growths. The world is extremely fleshed out and I absolutely adore how it is essentially sci-fi disguised as fantasy. Subplots weave together very well, and I found it easy to sympathize with many POV characters besides the villain POV (which to be honest was somewhat boring to read about).

While it is an otherwise great story, the author’s rather extreme political and social views seem to bleed into the story a little too heavily for my taste. The only people who are allowed to believe that males and females are different literally either hate all women and think of them as being "only good for sex" or take multiple wives and believe that men should have supreme power over women. On the other hand, you have a paramilitary that only accepts women into their ranks (which is quite ridiculous because if most of your soldiers died on the battlefield you would have significantly less children in the next generation) and a disproportionate number of absurdly physically strong women. As an example, the named Thieves’ Guild enforcers (the people that actually fight and intimidate) that actually do things productive for the guild are all female.

Another criticism I have is that no one besides mooks and redshirts ever die and little else ever happens that truly seems like a real problem. I would say that this is primarily due to the fact that the Big Goods are way too OP. The most senior university professor is the greatest archmage ever that has lived for millennia, and she is on good terms with the human gods, an equally powerful shaman, the most powerful nation in the world, and a sentient dragon. And since our protagonists are under her protection, they have never been in any real danger for 12 books. Another reason that nothing really happens is that everyone with a lot of power is good-natured even to their enemies (with the probable exception of only 1 relatively weak character), so the job of being evil usually falls to the mooks. While this could be explained by the actual existence of gods, it makes for less entertaining writing in my opinion.

11 of 23 members found this review helpful.
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THE GODS ARE BASTARDS

5 things some people may not and 10 things I definitely like about "The Gods Are Bastards"

By APansirus, member

Oct 12, 2016: 5 things some people may not like about "The Gods Are Bastards": – the beginning is a bit rich on exposition, and although I like it, not everyone does – some of the longer books take a while to get to the end due to the multiple plotlines and groups of antagonists and protagonists, though if you binge-read the archives (you probably will . . . ), that hardly matters – on the contrary, I wish the books were longer 😀 – the death rate and change of the death rate over time – not all of the typos get fixed – probably at least a week of your life will be gone after you start reading this (not lost – but gone)

10 things I definitely like like about "The Gods Are Bastards": – the unique, detailed and intricate setting (influences of fantasy, western, science fiction, steam punk?) – the actual developing, alive characters – the banter and dialogue – the storylines and suspense (while it’s not as high suspense as Worm, it’s really well told and more about the characters, their stories, and their decisions and relations) – the continued insistence that violence is not the best way to solve your problems, that things are connected, and that (most^^) characters actually try to solve their problems other than by brute force – show, don’t tell! – at the same time IF there’s action, there’s ACTION – the actually diverse cast – the first time a gnomish character encountered the ("normal"-sized) steps to her living quarters I had to laugh out loud about the sheer genius of thinking about accessability in a fantasy setting! – the great writing of the mentally ill, quite a few of one of the newest character’s reflections resonate – the great nuanced handling of the problems the protagonists face instead of "kill the bad guy, save the day" – though what may actually be my favorite thing about this series is that I keep learning/understanding things about life, whether it’s an explanation of why "asking about asking" is a good idea, discussions about different perspectives/angles of feminism, or an explanation about rulers and strength – there are a lot of "fishes out of water" who need things explained to them, and I really appreciate the insights they gain – and every time I reread it so far, I find something new^^

4 of 5 members found this review helpful.
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