Review | Gunmetal Gods – Zamil Akhtar

About the Book

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.

475 pages (paperback)
Published on October 2020
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I got this book on a lark. It was on Kindle Unlimited and it looked interesting so why not. I was immediately sucked into the nonwestern feel of the world. The Middle Eastern roots of this story are obvious from page one, and I loved it. In fact, the worldbuilding was my favorite part of this work. It was lush and layered, and large, expanding further and further as the book went on, hinting at things beyond the borders of this lone book. 

In fact, Gunmetal Gods truly astounded me in scope. The book was epic in every sense of the word. Nothing was simple or surface, from the world to the religions to the conflicts to the characters. Everything had other layers, other meanings, other reasons for being. Sometimes it was immediately obvious, but more often than not, the reasons would become clear as the book progressed. There are hints sprinkled throughout this word, and if you pick up on all of them, you’ll have an absolutely delightful experience connecting the dots, and understanding just how deep the world building goes.

Gunmetal Gods is not a book you’ll want to read if you want any lulls in the pacing. There are none, and this is both the benefit and the downfall of the book. Sometimes things were happening so fast, it was hard to keep track of what was going on where and why. Occasionally, the sequence of events was jarring, and I felt like things happened between point A and point B that I missed. There were instances where the character development lacked a bit. I would have appreciated a bit more time on some plot point, and characters, for example, so I could understand a bit more of who they were. I felt, basically, that slowing the pacing down, would have created a lushness to the execution that I did feel the book occasionally lacked.

That being said, Gunmetal Gods is an all-out thrill ride. There’s never a dull moment, and as things really get spinning, the darkness just keeps getting darker. Told in two first-person points of view, the book gets into the psyche of its protagonists. As they advance upon their various quests, not only does the action ramp up and intensify, but both characters become darker and more violent as well. I will say, it got pretty exhausting toward the end. I would have appreciated more moments to take a breath, but I think a lot of readers won’t mind this at all. The pace is breakneck, and absolutely absorbing. 

The characters, Micah the Metal on one side, and Kevah on the other, are fascinating. Multi-layered and well-crafted, they really command the book in every respect, and steal the show when they take the stage. Most of this book is based on religion, belief, and various forms of redemption arcs through the characters. Both characters evolve over time, and get darker as the book goes on. Some of the graphic violence may be overwhelming to some readers, but it was true to the nature of the book itself.

There is a wide array of characters that populate this world, from paladins, to horse warriors, to janissaries, to djinn and evil spirits, and magi. The unique qualities, even the magical aspects of this world unfold apace with the book itself. As I mentioned before, the world building is some of the best I have come across, both firmly rooted in reality, with a nice dash of realistic otherworldliness thrown in for good measure. I found myself as interested in how the author worked these elements into his story, as finding out just what would turn up next. 

The writing was beautiful, and if you know anything about me, you know I am a sucker for books that marry beauty and pain. Gunmetal Gods did this beautifully. The prose dips a toe into poetic waters without going overboard. The scenery came to life, which was a huge plus for me because seriously, this worldbuilding was intense and amazing, and the prose made it truly shine. There were times when I felt like I was transported to the scene I was reading about. I could smell the air, and taste the food. It was so real to me. I honestly enjoyed this book as much for the style of writing, as for the plot itself. 

Gunmetal Gods is a book that reached out and grabbed me. It was impossible to put down once it got started. If I feel like the book could have used a bit slowing down, a bit more time spent on all its different elements, it was more than made up for with the story itself. Honestly, the book blew me away. For fans of bloody, dark, fast-paced epic fantasy full of layers and complications, you really don’t need to look further than this.

I will be watching this author closely. I think he’s going to have a brilliant career ahead of him. 

4/5 stars

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