Fates intertwine – Pantheon calls – Darkness Grows
Far too many blame their own bad luck on Hanen and Rallia Clouw. When opportunity knocks, they leap to put their past behind them. In the turmoil of a holy order fraught with lies, frustration, and heresy, the paladin Jined Brazstein is called to deeper faith. When Katiam takes up a seemingly ageless seed pod from a botanist’s desk, she cannot imagine the change it will bring. Life stirs within that seed, the path to deeper faith beckons, profits are made upon the road, darkness moves–a winged, deathless wrath invisible to the gods.
For those who seek the heroes path,
Fate takes more than bargained for.
Hubris breeds a deathless wrath,
That always hungers after more.
Deathless Beast is an amazing novel that is perfect for both those who love worldbuilding on par with Tolkien, as well as those who prefer character driven fantasy.
This book is clearly inspired by classic epic fantasy novels, but has a much more modern feel with many unique takes on classic tropes. The world does not feel like medieval earth, all the animals are taken from mythologies of various cultures. Instead of horses, cats, and dogs we get sleipnirs, manticors, and ynfalds. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what these are, I had to look them up too). The gods of this world are also intriguingly different from those of most fantasy worlds. Unlike in most fantasy, we don’t have different cultures worshipping different gods and fighting each other over their beliefs. Virtually everyone is Kallattia believes in the same set of gods, even if they might favor one over the others.
The religious orders of several of these gods play a key role in the world and in this novel. One of the main POV characters is a paladin and we get to see the inner workings of an order of holy knights and through them we get a deep exploration of religion and personal faith as we see them struggle with interpreting scripture and seeking to become close to their god in their own ways. Meredith’s paladins feel much more real than any I have ever read. Most paladinial orders in fantasy are simple archetypes of holy warriors with no real depth. In Deathless Beast, they are humans like any others, and very relatable in their search for deeper faith and understanding.
Meredith’s prose is not flowery by any means, which may be a downside to some, but neither is it simplistic. I never noticed his prose as I was reading but it drew me in and flowed so smoothly that I would often lose track of how much time I had spent reading. He also does not hold your hand, there are multiple occasions where we don’t know exactly what the characters are talking about, and we learn as we go, sometimes not until much later. But when we do need to know something critical to the plot, he includes it without info-dumping. This helps the narrative flow smoothly without getting bogged down in details such as the minutiae of the local currencies, which I’m sure many readers will be relieved to hear. There are many named characters and an expansive world which may be daunting to some readers, but Meredith includes helpful glossaries in the back of the book if you ever get lost or forget who someone is.
While this novel has exquisite and unique worldbuilding, at its heart, Deathless Beast is an exploration of personal faith, truth, and family. Each of the POVs feels relatable in different ways and I became invested in all of their stories and personal struggles. My personal favorite was the paladin Jined, but I didn’t dislike any of them and looked forward to revisiting them all as we switched POVs. Meredith does not forward plot at the expense of characters and I am positive this book will appeal to character driven readers.
This book quickly became a favorite epic fantasy novel for me, and I can’t wait to further explore this world.