Book Review: Lost Gods – by Micah Yongo

Lost Gods #1

Fantasy, Epic, Dark Fantasy

Angry Robot; July 3, 2018

432 pages

2.5 / 5 ✪

Lost Gods is the debut fantasy for Brit fantasy author Micah Yongo. It features a setting and world-building reminiscent of feudal Africa, centering around five young warriors of the Shedaím—a brotherhood of assassins that help control the nearby tribes and kingdoms through, well, killing. In particular, the brunt of the story follows Neythan, one of the initiates who is raised in the early stages of Lost Gods and given his first assignment. All five are raised, in fact, and prepare to depart Ilysia.

Twins Josef and Daneel are the first to depart, as their assignments lie farther distant. The other three—Neythan, Yannick, Arianna—follow soon after for Dumea, where Neythan is to kill the chief scribe’s wife. A day from the village, however, Neythan’s priorities change.

He awakens to find himself covered in blood. The bed and room in which he slept are a mess and in a chair nearby lies Yannick, his best friend, his throat roughly cut. Arianna is nowhere to be seen. Men break into the room, and upon seeing the body, finger him for the crime. Neythan eludes them, escaping the room and seeking out Arianna, whom he believes is the true killer.

His search for Arianna leads him out of the town to a river, and to a Watcher, a mythical being of great power and sight. It also leads him to Caleb, an unlikely companion. But Arianna eludes him. Neythan’s chase will take him across the five realms, where he has adventures, does favors for favors, and attempts to seek out the heart of the mystery.

In addition to Neythan, there are three other POVs—Yasmin, wife of a local governor; Daneel, another young assassin of the Shedaím, whom, along with his brother is tasked with killing Yasmin’s husband, Hassan; and Sidon, the young king of Hanezda.

I found Lost Gods very cliché. The noble assassin. Being framed for a murder he didn’t commit. It certainly wasn’t anything I’d call new or groundbreaking. Combined with characters that lacked depth, a story that doesn’t live up to its ambitions, and a mystery that was often not explained well. There were several times that I kept reading but was in the dark about what exactly was going on, and rereading didn’t seem to do any good. I will say that the world’s description was lush and unique, though its characters lacked the same definition. So many of them just seemed to be there to inhabit the space, while the POV characters moved around them.

Another main issue I had with this was its pacing. So often Neythan is described as being impatient or upset that he needs to find Arianna, only to look off at something completely random and then spend the next couple pages describing it. Or entertaining a flashback that isn’t terribly relevant. Or going drinking. The other POVCs are even worse. The plot is one that seems to demand urgency, and yet the characters ignore it. It’s like a chase scene with no running, no panic. Instead like an intense chase-stroll in the park, without any intensity. It just doesn’t make any sense.

The mystery made Lost Gods readable. While not great, there were a couple twists that I didn’t see coming. Although, as I mentioned before, the mystery itself was often not explained well, paving the way for many things I couldn’t’ve seen coming. The POV characters (well, the young Shedaím, at least) were interesting and deep. A few even underwent character growth and development. But not all—not enough, even.

All in all, Lost Gods was an underwhelming debut. A story that tried to little, and mostly failed when it did try. Bland, uninteresting characters detracted from a lush and ofttimes vibrant world. I’d read another, but don’t think I’d pay much for it.

The Lost Gods saga will continue with Pale Kings. It comes out August 13, 2019.

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