“Gods of Nabban” by K.V. Johansen

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Gods of Nabban” by K.V. JohansenGods of Nabban (Marakand #3) by K.V. Johansen
Series: Marakand #3
Published: September 6th 2016 by Pyr
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 565
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
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Gods of Nabban is set in K.V. Johansen’s world of Marakand. It’s a lush fantasy world where even gods may rise and fall like empires. This is the story of Ghu, a runaway slave who is slowly transforming into the god of Nabban, and Ahjavar, a man he rescued from possession by a devil. Ahjavar has severe PTSD from his former possession, and struggles not to be a danger to himself and others. But his care for Ghu keeps him going. Ghu and Ahjavar travel across the world on an epic quest to save the world from a demented Empress. And they are accompanied on their journey by Yeh-Lin, a devil who proves that anyone can find redemption.

I started reading Gods of Nabban back in August. When I first started the book, I didn’t realize that it was part of a series. Although the story itself can be a standalone, I found myself constantly trying to piece together the characters’ backstories. I felt lost and alone in a vividly described and eminently complex fantasy world filled with flawed but sympathetic characters who were interacting with each other in an epic clash of gods and devils.

I was impressed with the writing. I was impressed by the worldbuilding. I was impressed with the characters. But I never quite felt comfortable in their world, and I always felt like I had to read and reread passages to figure out what was going on. I felt as if I was always seeing glimpses of what was going on instead of being able to connect the dots and see the big picture. There were so many individual elements of the story that I loved, but Gods of Nabban didn’t work for me. And because I’m stubborn as all get-out, I kept reading all 572 pages until I finished it. In retrospect, I probably should have put the book down after a couple chapters, gone out and read BlackDog, The Leopard, and The Lady, which were set at different times in the same world with many of the same characters. This is especially true because I could recognize how much I would have loved Gods of Nabban if I’d read the others first. Context is important.

Now that I’m done with that rant, here are some of the things I loved about the book:

  • The lore about demons, devils, and gods was neat because each was bound by different rules and expectations. Magic follows rules and patterns, which makes it feel like a natural part of the world.
  • Ghu and Ahjvar realizing that they had feelings for each other. They make such a cute couple.
  • Gods of Nabban grapples with mental illness, specifically PTSD, and the way it impacts not only individuals but also relationships.
  • Strong female characters who are taken seriously by their society. So many fantasy novels flat-out assume that women are powerless. Here, not so much.
  • The world is fleshed-out and filled with complexity. It feels like an actual place with different peoples and cultures and customs all interacting.

Verdict: Read the previous books in the series first. Then read this one.

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4 comments

  1. I wasn’t a fan of Blackdog when it hit but I was a complete fantasy newbie at the time; I wonder if it wasn’t just too much. I would like to go back and restart this series now that I have 5 years of reading and reviewing under my belt; my tastes have changed dramatically in that time.

    1. Yeah–it seemed like a really fascinating world. I’ve had a couple books that weren’t right for me when I first read them that I ended up enjoying years later. Case in point: Slaughterhouse Five.

  2. Grace, you hit the nail on the head for me with this review. I picked up this one not realising there were earlier books. I gave it a try but had to eventually set it down. Part of me has considered trying again but I just couldn’t complete relax into it for some reason and like you said, I just felt like I had to keep going back to reread because I wasn’t sure I’d grasped things properly.
    Lynn 😀

    1. And it felt like such a fascinating world, too, which is what made it hard. Not being able to relax into it sums it up perfectly.