Seventh Decimate (The Great God's War #1)
The acclaimed author of the Thomas Covenant Chronicles launches a powerful new trilogy about a prince's desperate quest for a sorcerous library to save his people. Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil. But a seventh Decimate exists--the most devastating one of all... For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless. Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate--and reverse the fate of his land. All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains--and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn...

Seventh Decimate (The Great God's War #1) Details

TitleSeventh Decimate (The Great God's War #1)
Author
ReleaseNov 1st, 2017
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction

Seventh Decimate (The Great God's War #1) Review

  • Bookwraiths
    January 1, 1970
    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.My rating is 2.5 stars.Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson is the opening installment of his new series, The Great God’s War. Featuring a somewhat jaded hero on an epic quest of discovery, the narrative is a fast paced affair with more than a few twists and turns, which nicely sets up the story going forward. Unfortunately, though, it failed to live up to my lofty expectations. More on that a bit later.For generations, the kingdoms of Belleger and Amika ha Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.My rating is 2.5 stars.Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson is the opening installment of his new series, The Great God’s War. Featuring a somewhat jaded hero on an epic quest of discovery, the narrative is a fast paced affair with more than a few twists and turns, which nicely sets up the story going forward. Unfortunately, though, it failed to live up to my lofty expectations. More on that a bit later.For generations, the kingdoms of Belleger and Amika have been at odds. Both sides using the power of their sorcerers to wage near constant war against the other; the nearly unstoppable decimates of power raining down death to people on both sides. Yet, now, things have changed.At first, this change brings renewed hope to Belleger; their craftsmen discovering the secret to forging repeating rifles. Even the eternally sullen and gloomy Prince Bifalt certain his kingdom can finally turn the tide which had been slowly rising against them. But then another event dashes all those hopes: the vanishing of magic from Belleger.Frantic to learn the cause, the King of Belleger determines that there exists a rumor of a Seventh Decimate; a final tenant of the sorcery arts which – when invoked – will strip all magic from a land. And so with a single act, the Amika have once again taken from Belleger any hope of triumphing in their eternal war.Never on to give in to despair, the Belleger king sends Prince Bifalt and a small group of veterans off into the unknown world in search of a legendary repository of sorcery, a grand library where the Seventh Decimate can be learned. And so begins the enlightening and nightmarish quest for the Seventh Decimate!Before I get into the problems with this novel, I really do need to point out the strengths, starting with Stephen R. Donaldson’s writing. Others might find the author’s style too wordy, too filled with unfamiliar phrasing, or whatnot, but I’ve always enjoyed his distinct techniques with fast paced action, deep introspection, and focus on characterization. So, naturally, I enjoyed sitting down to read another of his works, finding in this narrative a past friend who was refreshingly familiar and overwhelmingly comfortable.Also, I have to admit finding many parts of the overall story well thought out and intriguing. Especially compelling was the eternal war between Belleger and Amifa. It is never glorified. The realities of such a never ending conflict shown in a real way. The consequences of generations of annihilation surround the characters. Its effect on the people is portrayed with a morbid sense of realism. And even the main hero of the quest, Prince Bifalt, cannot rise above the horrors of a lifetime spent at war; fear of failing his father and people ingrained upon his psyche to the point it clouds ever thought, taints every action he tries to make.This does lead into the main problem with Seventh Decimate for me personally: Prince Bifalt. This young, troubled man is the focus of the story; it is his journey of discovery and maturity. A reader experiences the world and the quest through his eyes. All information passes through him, shaded by his natural prejudices. Yet, from first page to last, he is nearly impossible to learn to care for. And I don’t mean in that Thomas Covenant smart-ass leper way. No, Bifalt is so thick-headed, so stupidly stubborn, that he never learns anything from his trials and triumphs. His stiffed neck ignorance quite annoying, as it bars him from any real character growth. Honestly, he ends the tale as the exact same person he was at the start. A situation which ruined the whole novel for me personally, as the entire journey became pointless.As overjoyed as I was to experience a new novel and world by Stephen R. Donaldson, I felt Seventh Decimate was merely an okay read. The overall story concept was intrigue; the realistic look at a never ending conflict and its effect on the people was well executed; and the epic quest itself had many interesting twists and great action; but the failure of Prince Bifalt as the main viewpoint character was startling and ruined the entire narrative for me personally. Hopefully, the author will rectify these problems in the next book, but if not, I can’t see this series ending well.I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.
    more
  • A Bald Mage** Steve
    January 1, 1970
    via GIPHY Bald Mage Rating 4.5/10Many thanks to the Orion publishing group and Netgalley for giving me a free copy for an honest review.“I see your confusion, Prince. You are at war with yourself. Your struggle is not with Amika. It is within you. But you do not know it”I want to start this review by saying that the front cover of this book is awesome and if I saw this book in a store I would definitely buy it because of this. But as the old saying goes ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’.Full r via GIPHY Bald Mage Rating 4.5/10Many thanks to the Orion publishing group and Netgalley for giving me a free copy for an honest review.“I see your confusion, Prince. You are at war with yourself. Your struggle is not with Amika. It is within you. But you do not know it”I want to start this review by saying that the front cover of this book is awesome and if I saw this book in a store I would definitely buy it because of this. But as the old saying goes ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’.Full review on my blog: Happy Reading :)https://twobaldmages.wordpress.com/20...[image error]
    more
  • Celeste
    January 1, 1970
    Full review now posted!Rating: 2.5/5 starsI would like to thank Berkley for providing me with a lovely review copy of this book.This is Stephen Donaldson’s 25th novel. It’s a slim book with a stunning cover. Seriously, the cover art is gorgeous! Prince Bifalt of Belleger is on a mission. His nation has been at war with Amika for countless generations; so long, in fact, that both sides have forgotten what they’re fighting over in the first place. But warring for so long is taking a heavy toll on Full review now posted!Rating: 2.5/5 starsI would like to thank Berkley for providing me with a lovely review copy of this book.This is Stephen Donaldson’s 25th novel. It’s a slim book with a stunning cover. Seriously, the cover art is gorgeous! Prince Bifalt of Belleger is on a mission. His nation has been at war with Amika for countless generations; so long, in fact, that both sides have forgotten what they’re fighting over in the first place. But warring for so long is taking a heavy toll on Belleger, and now on top of that every single sorceror in Belleger has lost their magic, leaving the nation vulnerable to attack from the Amika’s Magisters. All the people have left to protect themselves are their rifles, feared by the Amikans but impossible to replicate without magic. Their only hope: find a book that will help them restore their own magic and leave Amika’s Magisters utterly powerless. But the book is only a rumor, said to reside on the shelves of the Last Repository, a mythical library located somewhere off of the edges of all known maps. Bifalt, armed only with his rifle and his rage, takes a small group of men into the unknown, in search of a fable.Bifalt is honorable and upright, the crown prince of his realm. But the man has serious anger issues. He cares about his people and wants to save his realm, but he can turn into a self-righteous rage monster at the drop of a hat. I didn’t find him likable, but his inner struggle was compelling. How he fought against the rising tide of new knowledge he was faced with, especially as it proved that the things he was raised believing might not be the whole truth, was so relatable. Cognitive dissonance, man; it can bring the best of us to our knees.I have to admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Donaldson’s writing style. This was my first exposure to his work, and I’ve been told that this book isn’t representative of the rest of his novels, but the writing itself just fell a bit flat for me. It managed to feel both two utilitarian and overly verbose at the same time. The plot was intriguing but moved at an incredibly slow pace during the first half of the book. However, things picked up right around that halfway mark. There was a magical caravan traveling through a vast desert, and I loved the incredible variety of peoples and cultures and carriages that Donaldson included. The caravan felt so lush, especially after the starkness of the preceding chapters. The Last Repository was also fascinating. Libraries are my favorite settings, both in fiction and real life, so I enjoyed the hunt for the mysterious library.This book is a short book with a slow pace. It’s the first book of a series, but offered a satisfying enough conclusion to not leave readers hanging as they await the next installment. If you’re a fan of flintlock fantasy and no-nonsense prose, of quests for mythical places and man’s inner struggle when forced to face himself, this just might be the book for you.Original review can be found at Booknest.
    more
  • Bob Milne
    January 1, 1970
    The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever (first and second) were a pivotal moment in my early fantasy reading. They were grown-up fantasy, full of moral quandaries and difficult emotions, but they were also stunning works of imagination, populated by brilliant characters. Even when he was writing gothic romance and portal fantasy with Mordant's Need, or sweeping science fiction with The Gap Cycle, Stephen R. Donaldson's work was always marked by those elements - stunning imagination and bri The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever (first and second) were a pivotal moment in my early fantasy reading. They were grown-up fantasy, full of moral quandaries and difficult emotions, but they were also stunning works of imagination, populated by brilliant characters. Even when he was writing gothic romance and portal fantasy with Mordant's Need, or sweeping science fiction with The Gap Cycle, Stephen R. Donaldson's work was always marked by those elements - stunning imagination and brilliant characters.Sadly, that's precisely why Seventh Decimate falls so short. The first book of The Great God's War reads like a self-indulgent short story, big on ideas, but short on everything else. It's a heavy-handed morality tale about the horrors of war and the stupidity of racism/nationalism, couched in a thinly-veiled desert fantasy.For a man who excels as world-building, this falls so short, it's really quite embarrassing. We get two warring countries, separated by a river . . . or chasm . . . or cliff . . . or something that's never really clear. There is an ocean to one side of them and a desert to the other, both assumed to be impassable - although it turns out the desert is simply a challenge, and hardly an insurmountable one. If there is anything else to the world (and we do get hints later in the story), neither country has the slightest idea.Similarly, for a man whose fiction is defined by its characters, this falls even shorter than it did in the world-building. There is hardly a likeable character in the book, and none of them have any more depth than a background character. Most importantly, Prince Bifalt, the protagonist of the story, is even more unlikable than Thomas Covenant - a miserable, leprous man who most readers remember for a single unconscionable act. The Prince is a bland, boring, arrogant young man with a single-minded obsession. If only he had demonstrated a sliver of growth, this could have been a far better story, but if that growth is in the cards, it's not in this volume.Finally, that brings us to the plot, which is the only thing weaker than the world-building and the characters. It is largely a paint-by-numbers story, predictable in every way, with a conclusion so foregone it should just be dropped into the cover blurb. Aside from the opening battle and the scenes involving the mysterious desert caravan of nations, there is nothing here of interest or excitement. There were moments of potential, where the story could have opened up, but it lacks the characters necessary to do so.I had high hopes for Seventh Decimate, especially after The King's Justice proved to be such a fantastic read last year, but was bitterly disappointed. Unless the digital ARC was a rough draft that was accidentally released, I don't see myself continuing with this.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.
    more
  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Seventh Decimate is a well-constructed, thought-provoking storytelling of two civilizations that are dealing with decades of the effects of warring against each other.The telling surrounds Prince Bifalt’s pursuit to find the ultimate knowledge that will end the war. It is a tale of his personal discovery and preconceived prejudices toward his enemy. You, as the reader, get to see his travels first hand through his eyes and perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a bigger, unmovable, b Seventh Decimate is a well-constructed, thought-provoking storytelling of two civilizations that are dealing with decades of the effects of warring against each other.The telling surrounds Prince Bifalt’s pursuit to find the ultimate knowledge that will end the war. It is a tale of his personal discovery and preconceived prejudices toward his enemy. You, as the reader, get to see his travels first hand through his eyes and perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a bigger, unmovable, blockhead when it comes to seeing what is right in front of him, making Prince Bifalt, not very likable.Intriguing, compelling ethical truths about war, enemies, and inherited preconceptions are all wrapped up in a visually scripted tale. With a fast-paced well-constructed plot, I should have loved the story but I could not get past wanting to knock the main character, Prince Bifalt, over the head with a 2x4 and sadly this feeling hit often. Watching all that conspired around Prince Bifalt, I could not fathom that any individual would be that blind to personal growth, the ability to see beyond what one was told to true the reality that is presented. Because of that stagnate personality, Seventh Decimate was just an okay read for me. I received this ARC copy of Seventh Decimate from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review. Seventh Decimate is set for publication November 14, 2017.My Rating: 3 starsWritten by: Stephen R. DonaldsonSeries: The Great God's War (Book 1)Hardcover: 320 pagesPublisher: Berkley Publication Date: November 14, 2017ISBN-10: 039958613XISBN-13: 978-0399586132Genre: Dark FantasyItunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seve...Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Decima...Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seve...Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com
    more
  • Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.Stephen R. Donaldson returns with a new trilogy that fails to break new grounds, but remains a typical and captivating adventure that will decide the fate of countless people. Seventh Decimate merely sets the table to a potentially exciting sequel as we follow Prince Bifalt and his arrogant self into treacherous grounds.The author of one of the most hated anti-heros in fantasy, Thomas Covenant, from his famous trilogy, The Chronicles of Thomas C You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.Stephen R. Donaldson returns with a new trilogy that fails to break new grounds, but remains a typical and captivating adventure that will decide the fate of countless people. Seventh Decimate merely sets the table to a potentially exciting sequel as we follow Prince Bifalt and his arrogant self into treacherous grounds.The author of one of the most hated anti-heros in fantasy, Thomas Covenant, from his famous trilogy, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, presents us with the first book in his latest trilogy, The Great God’s War. Seventh Decimate is in fact my first encounter with the author’s writing, and unfortunately I just wasn’t blown away by what was delivered. However, the story still manages to hold onto my gaze until the ending. That will have to be my one and only sign that this series can definitely get better if Stephen R. Donaldson plays his cards right.The story tosses you right in the middle of a war between the realms of Belleger and Amika. Magisters (sorcerers) are present in both camp and draw their powers from six different Decimates of sorcery. From fire to wind, they use their unique skills to wreak havoc on innocent lives. However, the Amikans have succeeded in using the seventh Decimate which strips away all lesser magic. Prince Bifalt, son of King Abbator of Belleger, however plans on reversing the circumstances by discovering a hidden repository where a book containing the seventh Decimate can be found. The fate of his people now lies in his hands, but the path to this repository is no walk in the park.Prince Bifalt was not a character that you could easily warm up too. He is hot-headed and incredibly arrogant. He is reckless and makes mistakes more often that you’d imagine. There’s honestly nothing about him that inspires love or respect from me, and I have the feeling that author wanted to portray him as such so that his development would feel dramatic. That however still didn’t redeem his character further along the line as he had grown into a disgrace too quickly. Burning with a red hot hate for sorcerers and anyone who comes from Amika, the only thing that really kept me going is my own desire to see how he’d change or what would happen to him.Where the story really failed for me is the world-building. Stephen R. Donaldson contents himself with the simplest of setting. Nothing in this story stimulates your imagination and everything is kept at a minimum. Fantasy stories that don’t attempt to put colour and life into their world can only go so far. With characters here and there who are quickly described and settings limited to places like deserts, mountains and woods, Seventh Decimate is not one that wants to transport you to magical places. In fact, this is merely a standard fantasy quest where a group of characters go from point A to point B and have a couple obstacles along the way. Then again, this kind of story has its upsides. After all, I was still curious enough to reach the ending.Another element of the world-building that sort of felt awkward was the fact that Belleger had guns and guns were their ultimate weapons against sorcerers. Guns are a new invention and the author introduced it as a weapon that was only at its first uses, so flaws to their prototypes were explored, as well as the many uses of gunpowder. It came off weird to see guns go up against sorcerers, but as the story progressed, you just couldn’t help but succumb to the idea and indulge it. Bellegers were also not used to mystical beings, making them seem like they lacked a lot of knowledge, but the story does slowly introduce these ideas and use the protagonist as a learner. It felt like there was a lot of development and ideas that could’ve been better fleshed out in this story, but Stephen R. Donaldson simply restrained himself.Seventh Decimate turned out to be a standard and typical fantasy story that stayed close a plot featuring a big quest and a protagonist who’ll learn a lot from this experience. His exceptional case also drives him forward into places where you just have to question if there’s anything that he does that is left to his own will or if he is simply a pawn in this whole war. Although Stephen R. Donaldson’s new trilogy kicked things off in an unspectacular fashion, I still have hope that its sequel might pick up all the right parts and make a great mosaic out of it.Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!Yours truly,Lashaan | Blogger and Book ReviewerOfficial blog: https://bookidote.com/
    more
  • Stewart Tame
    January 1, 1970
    I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The book itself isn't due to be released for another couple of months yet. Of course that means that I have to wait even longer than the general public for Book 2 of The Great God's War ...I liked this more than I expected to. A long time ago--in high school, early 80's--I read Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books. I generally liked them, but was greatly annoyed by Covenant himself. He seemed to spend most of the books whining and complaining a I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The book itself isn't due to be released for another couple of months yet. Of course that means that I have to wait even longer than the general public for Book 2 of The Great God's War ...I liked this more than I expected to. A long time ago--in high school, early 80's--I read Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books. I generally liked them, but was greatly annoyed by Covenant himself. He seemed to spend most of the books whining and complaining and generally not doing the obviously heroic things he seemed destined to do. So I tended to avoid Donaldson over the years, as fantasy novels generally became more of a thing. While I'm still not inclined to reread them yet, my older--hopefully wiser--self might possibly enjoy the Thomas Covenant books more than High School Stewart did ...In Seventh Decimate, we have two kingdoms--Amika and Bellergin--at war. The war has lasted ages, with sorcery taking its toll on both sides. There are six Decimates: Fire, Wind, Pestilence, Earthquake, Drought, and Lightning. Neither side has a clear advantage. Amika possesses larger armies, but the Bellergin fighting spirit is unmatched ... until all Bellergin magic vanishes. Its sorcerers are powerless, and it's rumored that this disappearance is the result of a seventh Decimate. The Bellergin king's son, Prince Bifalt, is charged with leading an expedition to a legendary sorcerers' library in hopes of learning the secret of the seventh Decimate before Amika's forces seize the advantage ...There are some epic settings in this book. The library itself is truly spectacular. The sense of a complete fantasy world that is definitely not our own is almost palpable. Bifalt is a fascinating character. Yes, he has his flaws, but Donaldson is good at letting us see his motivations and thoughts. While there are some plot developments--particularly the final confrontation--that aren't too hard to spot coming, the payoffs are well worth it. This is an excellent beginning to what promises to be an amazing series. Recommended!
    more
  • Glen
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a goodreads drawing.In a war between magical lands, one side has just unleashed The Seventh Decimate, for which the other side has no defense. Therefore, the other side sends a young prince to find the library of an ancient sorceress, to find a defense. Of course, other are also searching for the library.Not a bad YA fantasy.
    more
  • Quintin Zimmermann
    January 1, 1970
    The Seventh Decimate may seem like your typical traditional fantasy quest where a band of heroes travel the dangerous unknown in pursuit of an all-powerful item (in this case a book) that will ultimately save the day. However, Stephen R. Donaldson has intentionally subverted these traditional elements of the genre to create a dark world infested with both physical and spiritual desolation. Similarly, our main protagonist, the so-called "hero" of the story, is Prince Bifalt, a rancorous man blind The Seventh Decimate may seem like your typical traditional fantasy quest where a band of heroes travel the dangerous unknown in pursuit of an all-powerful item (in this case a book) that will ultimately save the day. However, Stephen R. Donaldson has intentionally subverted these traditional elements of the genre to create a dark world infested with both physical and spiritual desolation. Similarly, our main protagonist, the so-called "hero" of the story, is Prince Bifalt, a rancorous man blinded by hatred and pettiness. A man constantly chewing the inside of his cheek in order to prevent himself from spewing vile utterances to all and sundry. This is precisely the crux of the problem with this novel - a wholly unlikeable, if not hateful, main protagonist makes it extremely difficult to be invested in the story. The tension of the plot is further deflated by the fact that no matter how dire his situation seems, he is essentially unkillable. The Seventh Decimate had great potential to be a strong foundation for a promising new fantasy series by an acclaimed author, but it is irrevocably marred by its irredeemable main protagonist who inhabits a nihilistic world where, despite there being a patently clear path to peace, the majority of the characters (completely blinded by propaganda and prejudice) are hell-bent on annihilation.
    more
  • Doris
    January 1, 1970
    I love books and I am trying to write a book of my own and the genre is following along the same as those I review. Mr. Stephen R, Donaldson has fallen into one of my deepest pits know as "O.M.G." and he shall never leave it. I will be reading every one of his books that I can get my hands on.Does the prince become successful? Will the enemy be his traveling companion in the strictest terms that could ever be expected?Will the 2 kings be pacified with the terms of the agreement that their sons c I love books and I am trying to write a book of my own and the genre is following along the same as those I review. Mr. Stephen R, Donaldson has fallen into one of my deepest pits know as "O.M.G." and he shall never leave it. I will be reading every one of his books that I can get my hands on.Does the prince become successful? Will the enemy be his traveling companion in the strictest terms that could ever be expected?Will the 2 kings be pacified with the terms of the agreement that their sons come to?Will the royal and military come to an agreement?I need to get my hands on the next book!I just wish I could get my hands on the books for my own bookcases! OOPS, I need more bookcases! I have books piled and shelved 3 deep and have no more room.Love the book, read it in 1 1/2 days.
    more
  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book left me with mixed feelings. It has a very interesting premise, and I was really excited to read it. The first half of the story dragged a bit, but later the pace picked up. The writing style was very to the point and pretty non-descriptive for a fantasy novel, which was a something I had to get used to, but I also appreciated. The world the author created was interestin I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book left me with mixed feelings. It has a very interesting premise, and I was really excited to read it. The first half of the story dragged a bit, but later the pace picked up. The writing style was very to the point and pretty non-descriptive for a fantasy novel, which was a something I had to get used to, but I also appreciated. The world the author created was interesting. It was very diverse - geographically, racially, and culturally. There is also a lot we still have to learn about it, and part of that is due to the cluelessness of the protagonist. As we follow prince Bifalt around, we realize how sheltered his kingdom, and its inhabitants truly are. At points their ignorance about the world actually pulled me out of the story. While I can understand that they were not aware of the world around them, the world was familiar with their kingdom. So why was there no contact between the two? Perhaps this is something that will be explored in the sequel. The most problematic part of the book was the prince himself. He was not a likeable or relatable character for me. He was full of various prejudices and he was quite unwilling to see anyone else’s point of view. His stubbornness got him in trouble more than a few times, but he never learned anything from the lessons life through his way. The ending is not a cliffhanger, but it does set up nicely for the sequel.
    more
  • Benjamin Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for a free ARC in return for an honest review.Stephen R. Donaldson long ago cemented his reputation in the fantasy genre. He was one of the first to break the mold of The Lord of the Rings style fantasy. I’ve enjoyed some of his stuff immensely (The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through) while struggling with others (Thomas Covenant series). This first book in his new trilogy, unfortunately was a bit of a struggle for me as Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for a free ARC in return for an honest review.Stephen R. Donaldson long ago cemented his reputation in the fantasy genre. He was one of the first to break the mold of The Lord of the Rings style fantasy. I’ve enjoyed some of his stuff immensely (The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through) while struggling with others (Thomas Covenant series). This first book in his new trilogy, unfortunately was a bit of a struggle for me as well, although it did have some fine moments.The setup seems filled with overused fantasy tropes. Two kingdoms in a long-lasting war. The use of sorcery is rare but powerful. The protagonist, Prince Bifalt, is strongly opposed to the evil sorcery that the other side uses. Oh…and his side has guns. He sets out on a nearly impossible quest to obtain knowledge of the “Seventh Decimate” which negates the power of sorcery in hopes his side will ultimately triumph. This all sounds like a typical assembly-line fantasy series from the 1980's and, indeed, it felt like that to me as I was reading most of it. Frankly, the book was headed towards a 2-star rating. Donaldson has, of course, written a protagonist before that is not particularly likable in Thomas Covenant and he has done that here once again. Prince Bifalt is singularly driven and does not listen much to others’ opinions. In fact, I didn’t find myself all that enthralled with any of the characters enough to care what happens to them and perhaps that is why I didn’t care for the story that much either.There were some good points that ultimately pulled my grade up to three stars, including the last portion of this first book, wherein a philosophical discussion of the current war occurred. I really like the Magisters in the second half of the book who provide a hefty amount of intrigue and a “what’s really going on here” perspective. From what we know so far about the magic system, it seems rather uninspired although I suspect when it gets more fleshed out in future volumes it could be very interesting. And being the first book in a series, not much is concluded and plenty of open questions remain. I’m not sure I will be up for further books in this trilogy, although this foundation can certainly be expanded upon and a good series might result. My track record with Donaldson, however, leads me to think I will likely pass.
    more
  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from a contest on Goodreads, it in no way swayed my opinion.  Seventh Decimate is set to release on 11/14/17.I am having a hard time coming up with the words to describe how I feel about reading this book. I know I enjoyed reading it, it is a good tale and the whole story is an excellent tribute to character development. When I first started to read Seventh Decimate I had a really hard time coming to terms with the main character Prince Bifalt. He is an extremely u I received a copy of this book from a contest on Goodreads, it in no way swayed my opinion.  Seventh Decimate is set to release on 11/14/17.I am having a hard time coming up with the words to describe how I feel about reading this book. I know I enjoyed reading it, it is a good tale and the whole story is an excellent tribute to character development. When I first started to read Seventh Decimate I had a really hard time coming to terms with the main character Prince Bifalt. He is an extremely unlikable character. He has one point of view and cannot hear any other persons point of view. He also thinks everyone is out to get him. When you take a step back you can understand why he is this way, but it doesn't make him anymore likeable. As the story progress you realize alongside the prince that his world is a whole lot smaller than you and he originally believes it to be. Donaldson is a great story-teller who is able to keeps the story moving and he reader engrossed. He is also able to give you a main character who is by no means perfect and keep you reading until his flaws are fixed. If you are into the fantasy genre this book is worth the read, if only to see how this character is developed. If there is another book to sequel this one, I would read it.https://linzbibliophile.wordpress.com...
    more
  • Virginia
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come
  • Elizabeth Burton
    January 1, 1970
    I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Mr. Donaldson. I read the first Thomas Covenant books, and they grew on me; I still have to investigate the follow-up, but given my current TBR pile is such I’ll be reading twenty years after I’m dead, that may take a while. Then he did an SF series, that totally turned me off for reasons I won’t go into.However, I decided I’d renew our “acquaintance” when I had the chance to obtain an advance copy of the first book in his new series from the publishe I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Mr. Donaldson. I read the first Thomas Covenant books, and they grew on me; I still have to investigate the follow-up, but given my current TBR pile is such I’ll be reading twenty years after I’m dead, that may take a while. Then he did an SF series, that totally turned me off for reasons I won’t go into.However, I decided I’d renew our “acquaintance” when I had the chance to obtain an advance copy of the first book in his new series from the publisher, and I fear I’m going to be adding more to that TBR pile, willy-nilly.To compress the story into a nugget that doesn’t begin to do it justice, The Seventh Decimate is essentially a quest novel. Anyone familiar with Mr. Donaldson’s work will hear the unspoken “with multiple nuances.” Prince Bifalt is a man reared to be a warrior, the eldest son of the ruler of Belleger, which has been at war with its neighbor Amika so long no one really remembers what started it. There are stories, of course, and Bifalt has his preference as to which story is true, but that’s not the same as really knowing why your country is being destroyed.The most devastating weapon in this endless war has been magic. Theurgists able to control lightning and earth and pestilence from afar cut down soldiers in horrific ways, and Bifalt hates them even while he uses them.“Prince Bifalt believed all sorcery was dishonorable; worse than unfair or dishonest. A Magister could conceal himself in perfect safety while he killed…The plight of his people made nagging questions of honor meaningless."However, Belleger develops another powerful weapon: rifles. If they can be used to kill Amika’s mages, they may be what’s needed to finally end the slaughter. So, accompanied by the best shots in the Bellegeran army, Bifalt battles his way to within range of where the Amikan Magisters hide…and is killed by lightning.Except he doesn’t die, and as he falls into darkness a voice in his head demands Are you ready?Two years later, Belleger is in deep trouble. Manufacturing the rifles requires magic, and suddenly, for no discernible reason, all of its Magisters have lost theirs. Convinced the deed was done by the Amikans, Bifalt swallows his hatred of magic and undertakes a journey into the wilderness in search of a book that will allegedly allow the Bellegerans to do the same.Bifalt is a soldier. It’s all he’s ever known how to be and do. Defending his father’s kingdom and his people is his life’s work. And, like many people with specialized training, he is hard-pressed to deal with anything that can’t be addressed by force of arms. His view of what’s acceptable is narrow and full of suspicion; he is full of outrage that his people are dying and teeters on the brink of murder every moment. And, of course, he hates magic to the depths of his soul.So, then, not perhaps the ideal candidate to send on a quest for a book of magic, but doing his duty is a natural to Bifalt as breathing. And as he confronts not just new terrain but an entire world he really had no idea existed, given Belleger’s total isolation by geography and constant warfare, his concept of reality is, step by step, severely challenged.It isn’t often I enjoy a book so much I can hardly wait for the sequel. The Seventh Decimate is one such book, and I am praying Mr. Donaldson won’t take as long to provide that sequel as George R. R. Martin does. I’m no longer young, and I really, really want to know how this tale ends. As with the Covenant books, his protagonist isn’t all that likeable, and there are times when the reader has the desire to knock him upside the head for being altogether too dense for his own good.That, of course, it what makes this novel work. Even if one doesn’t like Bifalt, one has to admire him for what he is—devoted, honorable, dedicated to the welfare of his people and willing to do anything, including die, to achieve it. He’s not the least bit noble, which is refreshing given how tiresome noble people can be. He’s a man who does his job well when he can and to the best of his ability when he can’t. There is much to admire in that.
    more
  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    When a book from a well-regarded and familiar author in a genre well-loved by the family is released, it is difficult to not rush to acquire it. However, at times, there is disappointment. In my opinion, the sole job of an author of a trilogy is to grab hold of the reader and not permit them to leave their reading chair. In the case of fantasy readers, especially so, since reading thousands of pages to reach resolution means nothing to them. The best of the genre offers mystery, romance, adventu When a book from a well-regarded and familiar author in a genre well-loved by the family is released, it is difficult to not rush to acquire it. However, at times, there is disappointment. In my opinion, the sole job of an author of a trilogy is to grab hold of the reader and not permit them to leave their reading chair. In the case of fantasy readers, especially so, since reading thousands of pages to reach resolution means nothing to them. The best of the genre offers mystery, romance, adventure , complex world and character building which engage the readers curiosity driving them to reach for the next in the series. The protagonist must compel the reader into cheering for him despite his shortcomings. The synopsis of The Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson seemed to hold such promise. Unfortunately for this reader it fell short. There characters were stereotypical, the pace was slow and the writing verbose. The main character created no emotion in me.I know the typical reluctant hero who must grow into his role is necessary; however, I felt no compulsion to watch him evolve. Perhaps I am not the target audience. I kept reading because I was more fascinated with the name wordplay and wished to see if my assumptions were correct: King Abbator- abattoir or slaughterhouse, Prince Bifalt- two faults, Country of Bellager and Amika- belligerent or arrogant and peaceful,All of the names seemingly inapposite to their depictions. Curious. Or perhaps I was reaching for straws. The writing style was not pleasant for me in that it did not flow easily. It was wordy to the point of the same words in the same order in sentence after sentence and thus repetitive. If this had been written by a freshman author I probably would not have compared it to some of my favorite series of the genre and judged it less harshly.I do find myself to be much more critical of established authors and accept that that fault lies with me. I still believe that the storyline has much potential and hope that the telling and the protagonist improve in subsequent releases. I will attempt a second reading and hope to favorably edit this review .I am in awe of those who can commit pen to paper and transport me to other worlds and saddened when I must post a negative review.Since I was generously granted an advanced copy of this book by Penguin's First to Read Program I felt compelled to review it and to be as honest as I was able. I have to admit that even though fantasy is not my favorite genre,I have read multiple series in the genre and even list several of them as some of my all time favorite books so I believe that my opinion is valid or at least honest. If you are a fan of fantasy or particularly a fan of Mr. Donaldson's Thomas the Covenant series, I would enjoy hearing your point of view and hope that you will give this new release a chance.
    more
  • Kaite ~ my way by Starlight
    January 1, 1970
    Review also available at my blog: my way by Starlight It's so hard for me, when there is a book that I know I could love, but for some reason I just don't. Seventh Decimate has everything in it that should keep pulling you in. There is plenty of action, a well developed world, conflict, and a seemingly impossible quest. I think the problem for me was that while the characters are well developed, I couldn't form a connection to the main character, Prince Bifalt, or really to majority of the nove Review also available at my blog: my way by Starlight It's so hard for me, when there is a book that I know I could love, but for some reason I just don't. Seventh Decimate has everything in it that should keep pulling you in. There is plenty of action, a well developed world, conflict, and a seemingly impossible quest. I think the problem for me was that while the characters are well developed, I couldn't form a connection to the main character, Prince Bifalt, or really to majority of the novel's cast. The entire book is told from Bifalt's viewpoint, so this made it increasingly hard for me to care about the fate of this quest.As the first born son of a King, even one whose main duty is as a soldier, he should be at the very least more shrewd in his scrutiny of the world around him. This is apparent in the last 1/3 of the novel where he is opened to new experiences, however his attitude remains that of a sulky, hate-filled child uninterested in gaining knowledge, insight, or any additional tactics that could help his country. Indeed other than his devotion to his men and his people, which is his one redeeming quality, I can't remember a protagonist I could identify with less. The storyline itself had problems with pacing. After I finished I was sorely disappointed that so much of the novel had dedicated itself to the journey, which at times taught us things, however it could have been condensed and instead the ending expanded upon. Though with how Bifalt acted in this section of the story, I don't know if I could have stomached it.Indeed the 'climax' of the novel gives barely any resolution and no falling action. I understand wanting to end upon a cliff-hanger if this is to be the start of a series, but there wasn't enough falling action for me to feel as if I know if there is another story coming or if I just received a very unsatisfactory ending. On a good note, the setting was phenomenal. I could feel what the characters were going through, I could perfectly picture the journey, the terrain, and the countries. The details were incredibly rich. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the novel was how explicitly the rules of magic are in the world. This to me makes it even more believable, and I want to understand more about this world. And this is the moment where I'm torn. If there would be another book, I'm incredibly tempted to read it. I desperately enjoyed the world, and I think that I could love some of the characters that we were introduced to at the end. However, I don't know if I can stomach the main character and what is bound to be more bull headedness, and once again not caring what happens to him, just to see this world. I'm not sure yet if it's worth committing myself to searching out the next installment. Thank you to Stephen R. Donaldson, NetGalley, and the Berkley Publishing Group for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. 
    more
  • Crystal King
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a big Donaldson fan since his first novel and I wasn't disappointed by his latest. I was thrilled when I received access to an ARC of this novel and didn't have to wait until November for it to be released. Two countries are in a terrible war, each with a particular advantage the other side does not have. Prince Bifalt leads a band of men on a quest to a far away library with the hope that they will be able to acquire a book of sorcery to help them tip the balance. What he discovers is I've been a big Donaldson fan since his first novel and I wasn't disappointed by his latest. I was thrilled when I received access to an ARC of this novel and didn't have to wait until November for it to be released. Two countries are in a terrible war, each with a particular advantage the other side does not have. Prince Bifalt leads a band of men on a quest to a far away library with the hope that they will be able to acquire a book of sorcery to help them tip the balance. What he discovers is, of course, not what he expected. The Seventh Decimate, like most of Donaldson's novels, has an underlying allegory about the human soul. In this case, Bifalt discovers that the world is much much larger than he expected, with people from lands very different than his, and that the war he is fighting is not stacked in the way that he had thought. He digs his heels in, unwilling to believe or make decisions that go against his narrow view. The parallels to today's world are clear. I am looking forward (oh, the long wait!) to the next books, to see if Bifalt is able to redeem himself and his people.
    more
  • Tasha
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free ARC of this book from Goodreads' giveaways.It seems Stephen Donaldson has a thing about creating unlikeable protagonists. This book follows the fiery and hardheaded Prince Bifalt. To save his homeland he sets out on an "implausible" quest, to find a possibly nonexistent book, at a probably mythical library, across a seemingly impassable desert. I can commiserate. I have made my own arduous treks to a library. Mine had a much lower casualty rate.Does he save his country? Does he I received a free ARC of this book from Goodreads' giveaways.It seems Stephen Donaldson has a thing about creating unlikeable protagonists. This book follows the fiery and hardheaded Prince Bifalt. To save his homeland he sets out on an "implausible" quest, to find a possibly nonexistent book, at a probably mythical library, across a seemingly impassable desert. I can commiserate. I have made my own arduous treks to a library. Mine had a much lower casualty rate.Does he save his country? Does he find the library of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil? Does he let any sense through his thick skull? You will have to read the book to find out, and probably the next book; at least one of these questions isn't answered in this one.A classic hero-takes-a-journey adventure. An entertaining read. Predictable, but enjoyable. And even if the main character is a bit of a douche, I at least see where he's coming from; I understand why he is the way he is. I hold out hope for him, and will be reading the next installment.
    more
  • Kdawg91
    January 1, 1970
    This is my first exposure to Stephen Donaldson, and honestly...not quite sure what to think. It is an enjoyable read. I really like the concept., but the language is a problem with me. Before I get slapped in the head, there is NO doubt the man is a talented writer, it is just the language has a very dry feel to it, there is a great deal of passages full of 10 dollar words and gold plated phrasing when you very well could make it lot cleaner. THAT is a problem with me, If you try to talk over my This is my first exposure to Stephen Donaldson, and honestly...not quite sure what to think. It is an enjoyable read. I really like the concept., but the language is a problem with me. Before I get slapped in the head, there is NO doubt the man is a talented writer, it is just the language has a very dry feel to it, there is a great deal of passages full of 10 dollar words and gold plated phrasing when you very well could make it lot cleaner. THAT is a problem with me, If you try to talk over my head and its not necessary, I won't bother with you.If you are a fan of epic fantasy, you will probably enjoy this. Will you be clamoring for the next book? that remains to be seen.
    more
  • Nadine
    January 1, 1970
    2 / 2.5RTC
  • Gaius Crassus
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this a lot. Interesting characters, good plot and an interesting world. Looking forward to the next one I️ liked this a lot. Interesting characters, good plot and an interesting world. Looking forward to the next one
  • Laura Valentine
    January 1, 1970
    Still good, but not up to the Thomas Covenant world- and character-building. And OMG what an unlikable MC!
  • C.E. Clayton
    January 1, 1970
    ***I received a free copy from Penguin's First To Read Program in exchange for an honest review***I am new to Donaldson’s work, I know of him by reputation only and that others greatly enjoy his fantasy worlds, but form this particular book, I don’t see it. In reading the synopsis and drooling over the cover, I was thrilled to be able to read an early copy of the book as he is such a well-respected author, but those good feelings were wiped out pretty quickly as the first 60% of the book was lik ***I received a free copy from Penguin's First To Read Program in exchange for an honest review***I am new to Donaldson’s work, I know of him by reputation only and that others greatly enjoy his fantasy worlds, but form this particular book, I don’t see it. In reading the synopsis and drooling over the cover, I was thrilled to be able to read an early copy of the book as he is such a well-respected author, but those good feelings were wiped out pretty quickly as the first 60% of the book was like pulling teeth to get through. It’s a convoluted “magical” setting with laws and rules that are never well defined, and a world that feels small and simplistic with two warring nations that have been at war so long, the cause is nearly forgotten—though the brief explanation felt like a bad Romeo and Juliet retelling—all the people know is that some slight was caused a millennia ago, so obviously they still fight about it. Even when the main character, Prince Bifalt, has his mind expanded, the world never managed to feel whole, and therefore remained small and petty, populated by a slew of characters that annoyed me literally every step of the way.Let me start by discussing the lack of world building, as this includes both the physical world and the magical laws that Donaldson populates it with. You never see the world. You never see the warring kingdoms. All the action, everything really, happens outside of the kingdoms who’s fate the reader is supposed to be invested in. All I know, is that outside these kingdoms borders, there is apparently a pretty nasty river, a mountain somewhere, and a deadly desert that is supposedly impassable, but isn’t because everyone else in the world has a way to get through it. Bifalt’s home land is so small, and so far behind everyone else, that it’s sad and laughable, and also feels incredibly unbelievable.The magic system would be cool if Donaldson had spent more time on that, rather than the prince’s literal journey to achieve his quest. The elemental powers are intriguing, but I never understood much about them other than their range is limited. Unless you happen to be in this legendary library of course, then all bets are off. And outside of a few early instances where we see the Prince’s people and his foes fighting, you don’t see the magic, it’s just implied and meant to cause fear even in its absence.Unfortunately, the characters all fall under this rather flat use of world building as well, for they too, feel either one-dimensional, or inconsequential. There are so many men who follow Bifalt in the beginning, we are introduced to them, hear their back stories briefly like that will make the reader feel chummy with them, and then they are killed and I am left wondering if I was ever really meant to care about their inclusion from the onset. We only ever get to see the world through Bifalt’s eyes and he is not a fun character to follow. He’s pretty bland, all he has is a frustrating arrogance, ignorance, and stubbornness that make up his entire being. He does not impact any change, things just happen to him that are pretty coincidental when it comes to achieving his ultimate goal. He is no hero. I suppose that’s the point, but the guy is very easy to hate, and not in the “you love to hate him” way. I just flat out did not like anything about him, and I ultimately did not care about him, his quest, or if he succeeded. In fact, every character in this book is pretty awful in that none are likable, which may be the point as this is the first in the series and the Prince will need to seek revenge or justice or vengeance (or something) later on. But because I liked no one, I don’t care to make myself suffer through another cast of loathsome, arrogant pricks just to find out what the ultimate fate will be of these nations I never got to see. The book felt long and cumbersome, focusing too much on a painfully arduous journey with men I had no vested interest in seeing succeed because Donaldson made them so flawed as to be unlikable, and dare I say, irredeemable, while the action happens around them, rather than this cast of characters actually doing anything to make their journey a success. The book made me angry because it was so unsatisfying from a character development and world building standpoint that I will not be continuing with the rest of the series. Donaldson does have a gift for words, so this won’t be a one star for me despite my many other issues, so a low 2 stars it is.
    more
  • Mitchell
    January 1, 1970
    I received this Advanced Reading Copy as part of Goodreads' First Reads giveaways. I'm always grateful when I receive an ARC, so thank you to the Berkley publishers. This book tells the tale of Prince Bifalt of Belleger. Belleger has been at war with its neighboring country, Amika, for so long that the exact reasons for the start of the war have faded into folklore. Both nations have made deadly use of sorcery, the eponymous "decimates", which give the magic user power over a particular sphere. I received this Advanced Reading Copy as part of Goodreads' First Reads giveaways. I'm always grateful when I receive an ARC, so thank you to the Berkley publishers. This book tells the tale of Prince Bifalt of Belleger. Belleger has been at war with its neighboring country, Amika, for so long that the exact reasons for the start of the war have faded into folklore. Both nations have made deadly use of sorcery, the eponymous "decimates", which give the magic user power over a particular sphere. This has resulted in a stalemate in which neither side can strike a decisive blow, but Belleger does seem to be getting the worst of the battles. In an effort to upset the balance, Belleger is able to create rifles as a way of neutralizing Amika's sorcerers. This does turn the tide, but then Belleger's magic is suddenly snuffed out, rendering them not only unable to make more rifles, but also unable to sustain their way of life through magic as they have. Belleger is now waiting for the still-magic-using Amikan hordes to come and wipe them out. They have been thrown a lifeline, though, in the form of a memory of a book, the Seventh Decimate, which gives the power to nullify all the lesser decimates; exactly what has happened to Belleger. Prince Bifalt has been tasked to find the book with the barest of clues as to where to look. Early on in this book, I got the sense that Donaldson was thinking to himself "I don't want to write a typical 'prophesy of a hero' type of fantasy". There is no prophesy in this book, and I didn't even find the protagonist to be particularly likeable. Bifalt is like some of my friends that I occasionally play RPGs with in that he seems belligerently set against going with the flow. As readers (or gamers) we see the path set before the character very clearly and realize that the plot will not progress until the protagonist gets moving along that path. Sure, maybe Bifalt's reluctance is more realistic but it makes for frustrating reading at times. Bifalt, due to his own distrust and prejudices, drags his feet, seemingly, at every step. Part of this is due to his magical survival of a lightning blast in a previous battle with a mysterious message implanted into his head. Some people might be grateful they survived, but Bifalt is so certain that whoever saved him did it only for nefarious and treasonous reasons and so refuses to take anything at face value. This book was slow going for the first half. There is little in the way of world-building or magic system. These things simply are. And, as I said, Bifalt is hard to pull for; a "hard man" as he describes himself several times in the book and not very charismatic. Things pick up but I found myself fighting frustration with Bifalt as he seemed intent on taking the hard road, the long way, at every choice that he is faced with. Maybe this is more realistic. People in the real world often don't take the best or most beneficial choice but rather make choices based on their own short-sightedness, but it doesn't make for particularly entertaining reading. There is, in the last half, hints of the larger world and the larger conflict that, I assume, give the series its name "The Great God's War", but we only receive snippets.I, personally, found this book to be OK but not the most compelling read. Donaldson tries to have Bifalt grow and change as he considers the words he hears early on in the book "a man is not a man at all if he cannot enter and enjoy every chamber of himself", but I found the "self-reflection" portions to be confusing. Again, this is probably more realistic as coming to terms with oneself is never easy, but it was non-intuitive reading. The ending, however, does leave me interested in the next book to see what happens. This is a shorter book; perhaps it will be more like the introduction in a larger book and many of the questions and quibbles I have will be resolved in the next books.
    more
  • Stephanie Jones
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't start reading this novel with many expectations, but I was drawn very quickly in by curiosity by the author's naming conventions, of all things. We learn very quickly that two nations, Belleger and Amika, have been at war for generations and for generations have been using the "Decimates", or various forms of magic, to make war against each other. Belleger, desperate for an advantage, developed guns. Before they could deploy the guns in battle, Belleger's magic was stripped away by the I didn't start reading this novel with many expectations, but I was drawn very quickly in by curiosity by the author's naming conventions, of all things. We learn very quickly that two nations, Belleger and Amika, have been at war for generations and for generations have been using the "Decimates", or various forms of magic, to make war against each other. Belleger, desperate for an advantage, developed guns. Before they could deploy the guns in battle, Belleger's magic was stripped away by the Seventh Decimate, leaving Belleger almost defenseless against Amika except for said guns. Belleger and specifically its prince, Bifalt, believe that the only way Belleger can survive is if Amika is completely destroyed. Bifalt sets off on a quest to learn the Seventh Decimate and restore Belleger's magic.This seems like a classic set-up to a fantasy novel, but the naming of our protagonist's country "Belleger" which is suggestive of "belligerent" and its antagonist "Amika" which is suggestive of "amicable" made me very, very curious - was just this an inside joke of the author, or is our classic set-up of David vs Goliath about to be turned on its head? What we learn over the course of the novel is that Bifalt, completely desperate for his country and completely suspicious of anyone's motives who does not fight for Belleger and against Amika, sees everything in black and white where they is ONLY grey. He is a completely biased observer. He hates magic and magicians because of their horror in war, but he is both willing to use them in war and unwilling to see the good uses magic can be put toward (healing, food production, etc) . He hates Amika and Amikans and is willing to ascribe every evil motivation to them, despite the rather obvious signs that Amika is also struggling and desperate after decades of war. What makes the book so readable is Bifalt's legitimate anxiety and paranoia - even though Bifalt is wrongheaded and definitely a bigot, he is absolutely terrified for his country, his decisions matter for the life and death of that country, the success of his quest may be the only way to save his country, and the motivations of people both helping him and hindering him are unclear at best and purposefully hidden from him at worst. The author does a good job of showing how both these desperate straits on top of a lifetime at war on top of generations of indoctrinated hatred make it nearly impossible (or, at least, exceedingly difficult) for Bifalt to shed his biases, even if by doing so he can save Bellegor. The book was relatively short and, I felt, moved along at a pace that balanced character development and plot (slow for some reviewers but I felt it worked).
    more
  • Nick White
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Goodreads and Berkley Publishing for providing an ARC! I’ve never written a review here before, but I figured if they are kind enough to provide a free book, I can return the favor by providing a review.Let me start by saying that Seventh Decimate is my first Donaldson book, so I can’t compare this to any of his previous work. My understanding is that Donaldson is known for unlikable and often deplorable characters that yet remain complex and interesting. Unfortunately, I did not fi Thank you to Goodreads and Berkley Publishing for providing an ARC! I’ve never written a review here before, but I figured if they are kind enough to provide a free book, I can return the favor by providing a review.Let me start by saying that Seventh Decimate is my first Donaldson book, so I can’t compare this to any of his previous work. My understanding is that Donaldson is known for unlikable and often deplorable characters that yet remain complex and interesting. Unfortunately, I did not find the protagonist, Prince Bifalt, or any of the secondary characters for that matter, terribly complex or interesting. While I generally found Bifalt to be believable, albeit arrogant and stubborn, I never felt like I had more than a shallow view into what made him the way he is, and what his deeper beliefs and motivations were. Perhaps an even worse problem for me was that Bifalt showed little to no character growth as a result of the journey he takes and the information he gains. Hopefully this is just a result of this being the first book of a planned trilogy and this growth will occur in the subsequent books. The secondary characters generally suffered the same problems, many were simply placeholders or, if they did show some interesting or unique qualities, not enough time was spent developing them.While the setting and plot grew somewhat more interesting to me as the story progressed, there is little here that is unique or original and well-known tropes abound: two nations locked in a long-term war; people born with the rare gift of magic; technology versus magic; a lost book that holds the secret of a new, powerful magic, etc. The book opens with a long prologue in the form of a battle scene which delivers action and intrigue. However, the remainder of the first half of the book is a standard quest that I found pretty bland. In the second half, the story begins to expand as layers of mystery new questions are added without slowing down the momentum of the plot. While little is wrapped up in this book, the potential has been created for some more original and interesting plot elements in the remaining books of the series.Despite these problems, for the most part I found Donaldson to be a quality writer. He uses a simple, yet clear and effective style that wastes few words and results in a well-paced story. In addition, I liked several of the more thoughtful moments of the book. There was some interesting commentary on the nature of power and war, and the perils of close-mindedness.Overall this book was a mixed bag for me. I certainly wouldn’t call it a bad book, but my ultimate impression of it is a big “meh”. One of the main reasons for this is that it’s really not a complete story; it’s just the first third of a longer story split into three books. While this has become a common phenomenon in publishing, it’s still frustrating to not have a complete, self-contained story within the context of a larger series. While I’m planning on picking up the next book of the series when it comes out to see how the story progresses, I can’t say I will be counting down the days for its release. If you are a fan of all things fantasy, or especially a fan of all things Donaldson, I imagine you will enjoy this book more than I did, but I can only give it three stars.
    more
  • HTS
    January 1, 1970
    Do you ever find yourself wanting to like a book because you've not liked a book in a while and didn't want to give another bad review to the First to Read program (who offered me this book in exchange for an honest review)?That's what I felt here with Seventh Decimate.We start off with Prince Bifalt of Belleger heading into battle with their country's new invention: rifles. For once, they have a weapon against the sorcerers of Amica (I'm not sure whether I'm to find the names clever or eyeroll- Do you ever find yourself wanting to like a book because you've not liked a book in a while and didn't want to give another bad review to the First to Read program (who offered me this book in exchange for an honest review)?That's what I felt here with Seventh Decimate.We start off with Prince Bifalt of Belleger heading into battle with their country's new invention: rifles. For once, they have a weapon against the sorcerers of Amica (I'm not sure whether I'm to find the names clever or eyeroll-worthy). And everything goes great for the prologue, until we jump forward and learn Amica has found a way to strip Belleger of its own magic. Thus, Prince Bifalt must set off into the world to try and find the library with the answers to crushing sorcery once and for all.He also gets random head messages from sorcerers trying to show him the way into their lair. Great plot. I just didn't care about any of it.I think the first fault I had with this book was the impersonal style. I found it too distant for 3rd person close and too close for 3rd person omniscient (or outside narrator). There's several moments where the text doesn't trust the readers to get the point, so it belabors everything.The second fault is the characters. I didn't find a one of them interesting, from their packed-to-dense introductions to not displaying any individuality later in the book. This would be fine if the lead, Prince Bifalt, was remotely interesting or conflicted or had qualities I could connect with. He seems to have little history or memories outside of this quest experience, making him feel less like a person and more like a narrative tool. Doesn't help that he's always referred to as "Prince Bifalt" and not by first name or nickname or a name his battle companions would use.And maybe there's a reason for that (like an unknown narrator), but by 60% of the book, I didn't care enough to find out.Also, while not a fault (depending on the reasons behind it), I noticed the lack of named female characters. There was one in the prologue, then none until the book's halfway point (and even those characters lasted for only a few lines before the whole caravan ventured away). The one woman with a name in the prologue is part of the country's backstory, being a woman who is the cause of two brothers fighting and is later mauled and killed at her wedding for creating jealous feels in the one brother. Yeah.......With the last book I reviewed for First to Read, I was easily not the right audience. With this book, I'm not sure I could recommend Seventh Decimate to anyone. YMMV.
    more
  • Ryan Mac
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I have never read anything from Stephen Donaldson before but the description and the cover made me very interested. This is the first book in a trilogy and I found it just okay.The realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war so long that they cannot even remember what started the fighting in the first place. They have been at a stalemate although Belleger has developed a weapon that might give them an edge I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I have never read anything from Stephen Donaldson before but the description and the cover made me very interested. This is the first book in a trilogy and I found it just okay.The realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war so long that they cannot even remember what started the fighting in the first place. They have been at a stalemate although Belleger has developed a weapon that might give them an edge against the Amika sorcerers. Suddenly, powerful magic called the Seventh Decimate has been invoked which strips sorcerers in Belleger of their powers. Prince Bifalt, eldest son of Belleger's king, is sent on a quest to find a mythical library that holds the book of the Seventh Decimate in order to use it on Amika and restore his realm's magic in order to finally defeat his enemies.I would have liked to see more world building but I understand why we didn't get much. The story is told from Prince Bifalt's point of view and his entire life has been spent in Belleger or fighting Amika. The quest takes them across the desert and towards the mountains but I didn't think that we got much in terms of a feel for the world other than it is much bigger than the prince realizes. There was enough action, some twists and interesting developments to keep the plot moving along. The ending sets up some interesting scenarios for future books. However, I found it difficult to keep reading this book for one reason: Prince Bifalt as a character.The prince is not a likeable character. I found him to be stupidly stubborn, slow to learn from his mistakes and clueless to events happening around him, specifically towards the end of the book. His intense hatred of the Amikan kingdom definitely clouds his judgment and his thoughts (he constantly is chewing on this cheek from frustration which got annoying). Even when presented with new information that changes his situation, Bifalt continues down his original path to get the book, use it to defeat Amika and then destroy all sorcery because he doesn't like it. This wasn't the longest epic fantasy book but I was hoping for some change in his character...but it didn't come.I'm interested in the world and the events that are set up at the end of the book to pick up book 2. I am hoping that Bifalt grows up a little in the meantime.
    more
  • Colin Hardy
    January 1, 1970
    In many respects there are similarities between the lead character of this book and another of the author’s creations, Thomas Covenant. He is a man of strong beliefs who is stubbornly committed to following through on a path he believes to be right despite any and all evidence to the contrary. This belief is so absolute that to fall from that path would undermine all he believes himself to be. Compromise, where it occurs, is justified in terms of the goal. Where he differs from Thomas Covenant i In many respects there are similarities between the lead character of this book and another of the author’s creations, Thomas Covenant. He is a man of strong beliefs who is stubbornly committed to following through on a path he believes to be right despite any and all evidence to the contrary. This belief is so absolute that to fall from that path would undermine all he believes himself to be. Compromise, where it occurs, is justified in terms of the goal. Where he differs from Thomas Covenant is that the lead character’s beliefs are outward focussed, his goal is the defence of his country even to the risk of his own existence and of those around him; Thomas Covenant’s goal was one of self-defence. Both are martyrs of their own making and it is for the reader to judge as to which is the most heroic.As with all other books written by the author, the world building is highly credible and provides atmosphere as well as context to the story. Characterisation is strong but there is as yet no stable core of characters apart from the lead character. Secondary characters are coherent as personalities but do not carry the plot. What is apparent is that as the central character learns more about himself and the world around him, other characters gain in importance and are richer as a consequence. It is to be hoped that this development will continue in later books in the series.The story is one that holds the reader’s attention. There is action throughout with subtle development of tension that maintains the pace of the read. The plot is coherent themes are followed through to conclusion or are revisited throughout.The ending was predictable, but then as it was approached the lead character could also see it coming. As such the manipulation became a part of the plot to allow for the next book in the series that leaves the reader with the appropriate sense of anticipation.The author is very good at creating anti-heroes as a product of their background and knowledge, with personal development resulting in change. It is this growth, for good or ill that holds the reader, we want to know the nature of the evolution and how it impacts those around him. As such, whilst the lead character remains conflicted at the end of the book, the reader still wants to learn more. As such the next book in the series will be welcomed.
    more
Write a review