On rare occasions I start a book and immediately feel like the book was written for me. When I started Gunmetal Gods I felt like I was home.
Too often in fantasy characters are one dimensional. This is the hero. This is the villain. Here are reasons to love the hero and hate the villain. In Gunmetal Gods the characters are complex and leave you questioning who you should be rooting for or against. Wait, can you be rooting for all of them? They do evil things, good things, terrible things but they are also fragile and weak. They carry their scars, emotionally and physically, they are cowards. They aren't just good or bad, they are people, flawed and damaged. They follow their faith and beliefs, making decisions and sacrifices they believe are for the greater good.
The world is full and vivid. Without a bunch of info dumps you learn bits and pieces about the world of Gunmetal Gods. Religion, war, history and values all become clear to you as you journey through this world. You learn the creatures that inhabit the world, the gods they worship and the history that these characters hope to preserve or destroy.
The battles aren't often, but they are a huge part of the story. When there are battles, you pay attention because you aren't sure what will happen. You don't know who will live, die or become a prisoner (which may be the worst fate). Reading how these battles play out had me on the edge of my seat and wanting to close my eyes when I read what happens next, knowing the battle is just the beginning. What happens after the battles is sometimes much worse than the battle itself. War is brutal, unforgiving, violent and terrible. Zamil Akhtar doesn't shy away from those horrors or their aftermath.
I was immersed into the world, it's politics, religion, history and battles and captivated by the characters and their histories. Learning about their lives, success, losses and failures was as much fun as I've had reading a fantasy series since the Ash and Sand trilogy.
Favorite lines, no spoilers:
"Peace is a disease"
"...war was eternal. It was inevitable, and you either won or watched everyone you love choke on blood."
Later this month I'll be talking with Zamil Akhtar, P.L. Stuart, @MaedBetweenthePages and @Lana (Lore & Lullabies) discussing Gunmetal Gods. My only complaint is I have to wait until after that to start book two.