I've spent a good amount of time on online fantasy forums (you know, with all my free time) where I can geek out about fantasy books and authors and discuss the important questions like who would win in a fight, Ser Loras Tyrell or Aragorn (Sorry Loras, Elf training wins!). Be it sffworld (where I found Goodreads actually), r/fantasy on reddit, or a number of other places like ... hrm ... blogs.
Often, these forums are filled with jaded readers who've read all the traditional stuff, and they're always looking for something new and unique. More specifically, people are tired of the Medieval Europe setting.
The other recommendation people want and which comes up quite often is what are the best stand-alone books. I love a great, long series, but I understand the desire to avoid the commitment a long series brings.
All that is to say, Blackdog is both of these. A unique stand-alone book in non-Eurocentric setting.
In a world where gods walk among men, where their rule is limited to streams or lakes or mountains, one is the target of a great evil. She has made herself vulnerable in order to get closer to her people and she is only a child, not yet grown to her full power.
Her protector is the Blackdog, whom some think is a devil himself. A man with the uncontrollable power inside him who only thinks of the protection of the god of Lissavakail.
I had heard this book was good and yet I was still weary going into it. Don't ask me why, that Raymond Swanland artwork alone shouts "read me!" However, I enjoyed every moment of this book. It's insanely good, insanely rich, and the details are wonderful.
It's a thick book, but remember, it's stand-alone! There's no more commitment after this. Plus, it's a unique fantasy world, built all in one book around a compelling plot. That takes some time to develop and it's all worth it.
I can easily say Blackdog is highly recommended. And even though it's stand-alone, I just got a copy of The Leopard, which is the start of a new duology set in the same world surrounding a place referred to a number of times in Blackdog. I asked the author on Twitter and you need not read Blackdog first before reading The Leopard, although I highly recommend it because it's such a great book.
4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)