Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #2
Published by St. Martin's Press
Published on: September 5 2017
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A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
Last year, NEVERNIGHT, the first book in Jay Kristoff’s NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, was at the top of my Best Books of 2016 list. The writing was brilliant, the story and characters compelling, the world-building was fantastic . . . I was smitten.
So I was understandably excited about its sequel GODSGRAVE. *sighs*
The story was still compelling, just not as compelling, the writing was likewise not as brilliant, and the old characters manifested new flaws while several of the new characters were downright contemptible.
It took awhile for all of these slightly lesser versions to fully establish themselves, so initially I was more hopeful . . . Which only served to make the eventual disappointment that much worse.
For example, I love all things gladiatorial (b/c bloodthirsty). The obstacles, the arena atmosphere, the fighting to the death, be it man vs. man or man vs. beast, I don’t care, I LOVE ALL OF IT. *laughs maniacally*
So when it became clear that Mia’s endgame was dependent on her becoming enslaved and entering the arena, I did a happy dance in celebration . . . A celebration that turned out to be premature . . . B/c boring.
You: Shut up, nothing about arena fights-to-the-death is boring.
Me: One would think . . . And one would be mistaken.
You: *taps foot impatiently* Explain.
Me: Only one of the four fights resembled anything like traditional gladiator fighting View Spoiler »and it was a 3:1 fight against a seven foot tall humanoid arachnid, and I don’t like things with more than four legs (even when they’re normal sized). It’s a rule.
SPEAKING OF RULES, I have a new one: NO KILLING ONE HALF OF A PAIR OF TWINS (which should’ve been made a rule when I read HARRY POTTER, but I didn’t have rules back then, and this is the first time it’s happened since). *wails* « Hide Spoiler. Okay, two of them, but chariot races are the least fun part of arena fights.
I’ve never been much for going in circles—I don’t like NASCAR either—and shooting arrows at targets and people while you do it doesn’t make it any more entertaining. As for the other fights, View Spoiler »one of them was a battle reenactment complete with siege engines and catapults, and the other was a full-out NAVAL BATTLE. « Hide Spoiler
It was more spectacle than fight, and yes, arena fights are spectacles, but that’s not all they are. At least, that’s not all they’re supposed to be.
Kristoff didn’t get that memo.
The lackluster arena action was made worse by one of the aforementioned newly developed character flaws: View Spoiler »CHEATING.
I’m not talking about Mia using her darkinness. I don’t consider using a natural ability to be cheating. But dosing the water supply with narcotics and using some kind of science voodoo to make your opponent’s obsidian swords even more breakable?
That’s the kind of cheap shit that’s supposed to separate the Good Guys from the Bad Guys. « Hide Spoiler
Another issue I had with Mia was that she seemed to have regressed into a hormone-addled adolescent:
Peering in through the door, she saw Dona Leona emerging from a deep, steaming pool, water running in rivulets down her bare body. Her hair was damp, her face bereft of paint. It occurred to Mia that she was a beauty; full hips and fuller lips. Her eyes roamed Leona’s curves, wreathed in steam, and she wondered at the thrill of it. Why, downstairs in the barracks, seeing naked bodies meant nothing, but here, her skin was prickling. Heart beating faster. Thinking, perhaps, of another beauty on Aurelius’s bed, her taste on the young don’s mouth, her golden kisses sinking ever lower.
She thought of Ashlinn, then. The kiss they’d shared when Mia left the Church. That kiss that lasted a moment too long. Maybe not long enough?
And this was not a one or even a threetime thing. It was an over-and-over-again thing.
GODSGRAVE wasn’t terrible. There were lots of new clues about darkins and gods and prophecies, and something we were all hoping for did indeed come to pass, but in a completely unexpected way. And Kristoff excels at giving you information without revealing an iota more than necessary, effectively keeping you on his hook. So not an even remotely bad read . . . Just not on the same level as the experience that was NEVERNIGHT, comparatively speaking.
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