Timy reviews A Gamble of Gods, the debut fantasy novel by Mitriel Faywood, which is also the first book in The Order of the Dragon series.
I received a paperback ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
|Series: The Order of the Dragon #1||Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi|
|Date of Publishing: November 11th, 2022||Trigger Warnings: death, violence, blood|
|Page count: 426||Publisher: Self-Published|
“Life used to be good. I had money. I had fame. I had respect. The same thrill during work every day. A different woman in my bed every night. Best fighter to hire for dangerous jobs. Most famous thief in the Nineteen Kingdoms. Half the world sought my services when they needed the impossible done. The other half wanted to sleep with me.
Then one day this strange guy showed up with his even stranger pet, the latter a bit of a gift horse by all accounts, and turned it all upside down. They claimed to have come to save my life, and while they were at it, I got them to help out with the most important quest of my existence: finding the Supreme Key of the Dragon. Needless to say, none of it turned out quite how I expected. But we had fun, even if it was hell sometimes. In the end, what we found was worth it all.
My name is Conor Drew, the Gods destined me for great things.
But I turned them down.”
“Sometimes, life is like sailing towards land that you can’t yet see. Instead of burying your head in your hands and fretting over uncertainties, you need to stand tall and open your eyes. Check the wind! Check the map and the compass! Steer that ship to the best of your knowledge, then enjoy the journey. Chances are, you will reach the shore. And if you don’t, you did all that you could and had a good time while you were at it. There’s nothing more in life that any of us can do.”
I’m not quite sure why my brain went to Come with Me Now by KONGOS, but here we go. I think it works well with Kris and Conor.
*takes a deep breath, pins her badge with the name “Unpopular” written on it, and stands up* Hello, my name is Unpopular Opinion, and I am again about to write a review for a book everyone seems to be loving, but I couldn’t. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy A Gamble of Gods by Mitriel Faywood at all, but it wasn’t really what I expected, I think, and we just didn’t vibe all that much. It very well could be a case of the right book, and the wrong audience. Or the right book at the wrong time. Who knows?
What ultimately made me interested in A Gamble of Gods – besides the fact I was given a physical ARC to read – was an excerpt of the first chapter over at FanFiAddict. It hooked me with the mystery of the gruesome massacre, the cool vibe of the University, and the usage of advanced technology which is usually not my jam. I was intrigued by Kris and his reluctance to leave the University, the scene in the cemetery with the lights. So chapter one definitely worked as it was intended to work. And if I’m being honest, it remained my favorite chapter of the whole book.
If I had to describe A Gamble of Gods in terms of genre, it’s an interesting mash-up of epic fantasy, court intrigue, sci-fi, romance, and portal fantasy. Whether it works, I’d leave that decision up to you, the reader. Personally, to me, it felt like this book wanted to be everything all at once, and not really succeeding at any of them. Or rather, the balance was off, especially in the second half when the romance took over. Which I found super irritating, but we know I’m not the best person to judge romancy stuff.
A Gamble of Gods has 3 main POV characters – Kris, Conor, and Selena. In the beginning, they live in 3 different parts of the universe. Kris spent most of his life on a planet called Alba with super advanced tech, living and working at St Mark’s University along with his mentor James Montgomery. As such, he is a scholar at his core, curious about how things work, and determined to find answers and solutions to problems. Conor lives on a planet called Drelos, in the Coroden kingdom which is a Middle Ages kind of world. He is a famous thief and a womanizer, both of which get him in trouble more times than not. He is more of a free-soul type of guy, who likes to have fun and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Though he grew up in a monastery where he learned martial arts and received his destiny which turns into an obsession. He wants to find The Supreme Key, a mysterious artifact long lost by Meroth’s order. Meroth is a god and a dragon at that. Conor and Kris complement each other quite well and I liked them together, with their banters and camaraderie. Until Selena came into the picture. She lives on Earth in 2037, which is mostly like our world just with a bit more advanced technology – not as advanced as Alba, though. She leads a normal life, has a job, friends, a favorite tea house to visit, and a crush. She also has her own troubles with panic attacks and anxiety among other things. She is also lonely and is looking for something in more in life.
Out of the three, I think I liked Kris the most, but even so, I never connected with either of them. They all have their own demons and pasts they have to face and overcome, but they somehow remained one-dimensional to me. I kept thinking that I should be able to connect with Selena as I could see some similarities between us, but I just didn’t like her at all. And that’s pretty annoying, as I can’t put my finger on the why. It feels like I would have liked her better if there weren’t any romantic plotlines involved. And although the connection between the different characters is explained, it still felt unnaturally fast how they all started to behave around each other within a very short time frame. And it also didn’t feel like they really had any chemistry at all or that they knew each other all that well. Actually, it had very YA vibes, until it switched to adult territory.
I won’t go into how the paths of these three meet as I don’t want to spoil the fun, but let’s just say I liked how the story progressed until that point. It started dragging after that and the second half felt much longer than it should have. At the same time, once I settled into one of my reading sessions, Faywood’s writing did suck me in, and I was interested to find out how the mystery gets solved. I was also hoping to get to explore more of the worlds, especially the tech-advanced Alba, but I guess there will be plenty of opportunities to do that in later books. The worldbuilding is definitely ambitious and has a lot of potentials we didn’t get to see yet. Including more background info about the gods, the mythology surrounding them, and The Order of the Dragon itself. Faywood also made some interesting choices regarding the plot, and I’m not quite sure all of them paid off – chapter 13 for instance (if you know, you know).
All in all, A Gamble of Gods is an ambitious debut novel that didn’t quite find its feet, but shows promise and provides a stable enough base to build on as the series progresses. The world itself has a very interesting premise and plenty of opportunities to play with. It also has memorable characters such as Storn (I loved Storn!!), the opinionated robot horse, a found family theme that I usually like, and a lot of personal baggage for our three main characters to work through in the future. And even though I didn’t turn out to be the right audience for A Gamble of Gods, I can see why people whose opinion I value liked it. So, I urge you to make up your own mind about it and I’m sure we’ll hear from Mitriel Faywood a lot in the future.