- C. L. Schneider
Book Review: 4* - Gods On The Mountain, by Ben Willoughby
First, I have to say, that reading this book put me in mind of the 80’s fantasy movie Willow. The two plots aren’t even close. Yet, Gods on the Mountain conjured up the same magical feeling as that movie did many years ago. Considering I’ve seen Willow multiple times over the years and count it among my favorite classic fantasy movies of all time, I have to thank the author for evoking such a fond memory for me.
Gods on the Mountain is a classic high fantasy tale, constructed with all the enduring elements that fantasy readers love to find among the pages: elves, dwarves, dragons, ogres, humans, battles, and magic. It’s a journey story, revolving around a quest to discover what has happened to the dwarf tribes. It’s an adventure with a nice bit of intrigue sprinkled in. But at the center of this story is its heart, which is depicted in the form of Edmund (a human) and Diane (an elf), and the budding friendship that develops between these two diverse characters. Edmund is a Magi, a powerful enchanter, capable of wielding magic. Diane is a Dagger Maiden, as adept with her blades as she is her sharp tongue. Thrown together without any say in the matter, these two brave adventurers must work together to not only survive, but to unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of all.
Gods on the Mountain is a well-crafted exploration through familiar fantasy territory. The races were all portrayed with detailed description that shows the author’s affection for the genre. The characters were all well done and enjoyable to read. I particularly liked Fulk, the odd but endearing carriage driver (there is definitely something going on with him!), and Diane, the Dagger Maiden. Diane is an amusing, enjoyable thorn in Edmund’s side, especially in the beginning. Yet, he grows to care for her just as she grudgingly comes to admire and care for him, too. I see their relationship developing into a deep friendship in the sequel (which I believe is in the works).
The comic relief was entertaining and often made me smile. Only a couple of times did I feel like it might have been a bit over-the-top. I did find myself more glued to the pages during the action scenes. The violence and tension were on par with the mood and style of the story, yet at times I was wishing the danger felt more fatal. That’s more of a personal preference, though, as I typically read darker stories. I liked the insight into the main antagonist later on in the book. It gave the reader a chance to understand the motivations of the Infernal One (an antagonist not to be trifled with!) Though, it did feel slightly thrown in. Personally, I think that could have been avoided by doling out smaller pieces on the character earlier on in the story, rather than giving us his background all at once. Though doing so did help to stretch out the mystery that surrounded the character.
Gods on the Mountain is bursting with adventure and charm. It has all the traditional elements that any lover of classic fantasy will enjoy. If it's not on your TBR yet- add it! You won't be disappointed.