There is so much to say about Bid the Gods Arise. I could rave on and on, because I absolutely fell in love with this story, but I would rather you spend time reading the book, instead. It will serve you better. For those that insist, my review follows.
Often, when writers write, it is because the story they want to read is yet to be written. As a writer, I understand this to be true. It doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the works of other writers, but it does mean that we have very particular tastes in books. I am no exception to this rule, perhaps being pickier than most. In short, my list of favorite authors is, well, short.
While they are not without their blemishes, I do enjoy the works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Rothfuss, Sanderson, and Hickman & Weiss. It is far from an all inclusive list, but they have given birth to some of fantasy’s great epics. They all created stories of worlds and characters so wonderful, that we are able to overlook most of their shortcomings. As I sit here and reflect on the journey I just took through the pages of Bid the Gods Arise, I realize that I must add Robert Mullin’s name to this list.
I was skeptical when I first started reading BtGA when I realized it was going to be a blend of fantasy and sci-fi. I wasn’t sure how the Robert would blend the two elements. However as the story progressed, it was clear that the sci-fi elements fit perfectly within the world, rather universe, that Robert had created. In fact his worldbuilding was so meticulous and well thought out, that as the reader develops questions about the sci-fi elements (technology), the story answers it. The concerns of destroying the suspension of disbelief and the inclusion of Deus ex Machina were ultimately unwarranted.
Robert’s worldbuilding was truly awesome, especially considering what he actually accomplished in under 500 pages. Generally speaking, when you find an author who excels in worldbuilding, you will find books that are over 700 pages and they are slow moving throughout much of it. That is not the case in Bid the Gods Arise. The depth is there, but the pacing and danger is always there to keep the reader turning the pages.
Robert was able to effectively develop characters from multiple worlds, each with their own cultures, traits, and belief systems. The distinct features and behaviors of new races of “people” like the Maolori, Reamar, and the Talormines were very inventive and well developed, rather than just using the traditional fantasy races. This is important, because this really help establish Bid the Gods Arise as a novel that stands on its own. Unlike a story with dwarves and elves, the reader can’t make assumptions about the Maolori, Reamar, or Talormines, instead you remain intrigued with every interaction with these “people”.
If I were willing to post spoilers, which I am not, I could write an entire review on the Reamar alone. They are one of the coolest races of “people” that I have ever read about, and quite frankly, I am jealous that they are not my own creation. Everything from their beliefs to their very nature, is so creative, and vividly portrayed by Robert. Metaphorically speaking, they are so transparent, yet they leave you with so much intrigue, that you will turn the pages to discover them alone.
While BGtA does play out primarily on a single planet, the fact that Argoth is but a single world in a much larger universe is a key component of the story. So with that comes the inevitable fact that there are diverse ways of life and belief systems. The author masterfully teaches about Baelon, Yasul, the Glorious, the Vigilant, and the soul-stealing Reamar (who are amazing, by the way).
Robert has done an excellent job creating a story that remains full of excitement while still weaving so much depth, it is simply remarkable.
No story is about races alone though, it is really about the individuals in the story, and Robert does not disappoint. As the story comes together, you find yourself rooting for a truly Motley band of adventurers, who have more than their fare share of character flaws and misfortunes. You will find yourself loving some characters and being eternally irritated by some, yet you will still find yourself cheering for them, against all odds. Not to mention creating some antagonists that leave your feeling ambivalent, while others leave you utterly disgusted. That is not something every writer is able to pull off, but Robert has done just that. All this being said, this book is a great start to a series that can’t be written fast enough. I eagerly await book 2, Forsake not the Gods. Do yourself a favor, and begin your journey into The Wells of the Worlds series.