18 March, 2013

Review - The Eyes of God (The Bronze Knight #1) by John Marco

As I've noted on the blog, John Marco took a break from writing for a little while, but is back in the game in April with the next installment in The Bronze Knight series, The Forever Knight. Sadly, part of the reason for that break was because his editor sat on TFK without even reading it for 2 years.

This kind of stuff gets my blood boiling and if you want more thoughts, I wrote a little bit more here.

Marco is a unique fantasy writer in my opinion. He writes adult fantasy, but not gritty or over-sexualized fantasy as is the current trend. He writes quests, but not travelogues. He writes about library apprentices, but not about their destiny for power and glory. He writes unique tales that are filled with action and thought, that skip over the fluff and get right to the point. And sometimes I just need to get my head out of the gutter, it's not really all that pleasant a place.

For some reason, many fantasy writers have begun telling a story only to feel the need to go back and fill the reader in on backstory. Suddenly, instead of moving forward, the plot stagnates and a 700 page behemoth is mostly filler and hardly any plot. Not so in The Eyes of God [US] [UK]. There is so much that goes on, I was constantly amazed. They travel to and from distant places without any mention of what kinds of dried meat and cheese they had for breakfast. Then, they travel back again. There's betrayal, tragedy, hope, madness, it has it all.

But quite possibly my favorite part about Marco's writing is how real his characters are. They are flawed in a very human way that makes them compelling, and at times makes you both love and hate them. It brings the storytelling to a whole new level to understand the motives of the villain and even pity them, to root for the hero and yet despise his or her actions and thoughts.

The Eyes of God is largely about The Bronze Knight, Lukien. He's a character who has seemingly everything, looks, swagger, military prowess. He even wins all the tourneys with hardly a second thought. He's also a very flawed character that you root for nonetheless. Because he's good at fighting, he loves war. While he can get almost any woman he wants, he longs for noble women he can't attain because of his low beginnings. The thing that gets me is that Lukien is a real person. Who doesn't want to belong? And if the only thing you're good at is war, why wouldn't you want wars to continue?

Lukien's best friend is also the king, Akeela. Akeela is a man of learning and peace. He will do anything it takes to not only erect his grand library, but to offer peace to his enemies, even if that means giving some things up. But at the same time, Akeela lacks Lukien's looks and grace with the ladies. Thus sets up the tale that is really just about the characters, one of the ultimate betrayal and constant forward momentum.

Like I said above, there are so many things that happen in this book. Everything is precisely planned and worked to the fullest and most efficient. Besides the characters, and to be honest, because of the characters, Marco sets up and executes some of the best twists I've seen.

Because the characters are so real, they can be "good" one moment and "evil" the next. I'm using those terms in the sense of the typical archetypes, hence the quotation marks. Not unlike ourselves. They can be driven to the point of no turning back and it really makes for some great surprises in where the story goes.

John Marco is an author that I wish more people would read. I hope you give this series a chance or another favorite, The Jackal of Nar. This epic fantasy will have you reading for the characters as it breaks your heart and reassembles it only to break it again.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Very Highly Recommended!)

The Bronze Knight/Lukien/Inhuman Trilogy [Read in red]:
1) The Eyes of God
2) The Devil's Armor
3) The Sword of Angels

Stand-alone in same universe:
- The Forever Knight (Released on April 2, 2013)


Midnight Philosopher said...

Awesome review. Thanks very much.

Bryce L. said...

Thank you! I'm already a good chunk of the way through The Devil's Armor.

Unknown said...

Sounds like worth to read! Wii add it up to my reading list

Unknown said...

Haven't read any Marco, but I may have to change that soon.

John said...

@Bryce L.

I too have started The Devil's Armor!

Thanks for introducing me to John Marco,really enjoying this series.I plan to read and finish books 2 & 3 in anticipation of book 4 in April.

Bryce L. said...

@Laliv - Hope you enjoy.

@Tyson - I'm a big fan, I'd be interested to see how you like him.

@John - So good to hear and thanks for letting me know! He's one of my favorites and it just boggles my mind that he's not more well-known.

Alec said...

FYI I still buy all your 4.5+ recommendations. Starting this tonight and looking forward to it.

Bryce L. said...

Awesome, I didn't realize you did that. I always thought my reviews could use a healthy grading curve. :)

I know Michael (edifanob) couldn't get into Marco's The Jackal of Nar, but I'm a huge fan as is not apparent whatsoever from previous postings.