I really wanted to like The Godstone, but no matter how much I tried and tried to get into I could not. This fantasy novel by Violette Malan is set in what feels Medieval-ish setting with magic (or forran) wielding practitioners living amongst the other mundane (powerless) people of this world. It follows the adventures of the practitioner Fenra, who is living and serving the residents of a rural Mode, as she heads to the City to help her patient, Arlyn. The pair start out on a simple mission of executing the will of Arlyn, but it eventually turns into a quest to save the world.
This new epic fantasy series begins a tale of magic and danger, as a healer finds herself pulled deeper into a web of secrets and hazardous magic that could bring about the end of the world as she knows it.
Fenra Lowens has been a working Practitioner, using the magic of healing ever since she graduated from the White Court and left the City to live in the Outer Modes. When one of her patients, Arlyn Albainil, is summoned to the City to execute the final testament of a distant cousin, she agrees to help him. Arlyn suspects the White Court wants to access his cousin’s Practitioner’s vault. Arlyn can’t ignore the summons: he knows the vault holds an artifact so dangerous he can’t allow it to be freed.
Fenra quickly figures out that there is no cousin, that Arlyn himself is the missing Practitioner, the legendary Xandra Albainil, rumored to have made a Godstone with which he once almost destroyed the world. Sealing away the Godstone left Arlyn powerless and ill, and he needs Fenra to help him deal with the possibly sentient artifact before someone else finds and uses it.
Along the way they encounter Elvanyn Karamisk, an old friend whom Arlyn once betrayed. Convinced that Arlyn has not changed, and intends to use Fenra to recover the Godstone and with it all his power, Elvanyn joins them to keep Fenra safe and help her destroy the artifact.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
My largest complaint about The Godstone is that I did not feel that the main characters were very well developed. I knew who they were and what their backgrounds were, but I still never felt that I learned what drove them as characters. This was made very clear through the multiple points of view that Malan used as her narrative device. While I generally like having multiple narrators, without well-developed characters I only knew who was narrating because their name was at the head of the section when narrators switched. Even then I had to keep going back to see who it was or seeing if they were addressed directly. This made it tedious at times to read as it distracted me while reading.
Along the lines of characters and character-building, The Godstone included the beginnings of what seems to be a romance, but it seemed a bit contrived. I think this novel would have done very well without adding this sudden romance.
The plot of The Godstone moved very quickly and a lot of information about the world and the story was being thrown at the reader throughout. Even though it seemed that the plot was moving quickly, I still felt like I was swimming through molasses to get through it. It was hard for me to get sucked into the narrative and feel invested in the characters. Also, the end took a strange Moana-esque turn that I do not know how I feel about.
I truly did want to like The Godstone. It had a very promising idea and concept for the world. The magic seemed interesting and unique, but different issues caused the world-building to, unfortunately, fall short. I am not officially writing off the book as it is a part of a series. Perhaps subsequent installments will help bridge some of those gaps and really enrich the world that Malan has created here.