Review: The Eighth God & Tales from Ashen Falls by Paul S. Lavender

I’m blue, daba dee et cetera ๐Ÿ˜€

Another book that has been on my TBR list for quite a while! I’ve had this on my kindle for a veritable age before I was then unexpectedly offered a copy of the audiobook, as well as a short story companion audiobook. Well, I’ve always got time for audiobooks, so it shuffled its way to the top of the TBR of Babel pretty quick. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, as is probably obvious I was given a free copy of these audiobooks (both of them) by the author in exchange for my honest review, and here it is!

For thousands of years, five great fortresses have stood sentinel between the Borderlands and the rapacious Orcs. But the Orcs have allies, and these allies are about to set a chain of events in motion that will lead to war…
Heroes will rise to answer the call.

Saethryth has just returned from the Orc Lands where he has been killing them for over twenty years. He is one of the last Orcslayers left alive.

Melress is a Half-Elven Battle Mage, recently promoted to Captain and sent to the fortress of Knight’s Perch, where there are rumours of a traitor.

Tierra has been sleeping with the enemy, and now she wants revenge.

And Bazak-Kul, well he just wants to get home alive.

They and others will face the onslaught at Knight’s Perch, but battle is the least of anyone’s problems because The Eighth God is on the rise and everything can change when the Gods are playing.

The largest problem with power, he soon realised, was not that it corrupted but that it corrupted those around you.

This is an often gory and fantastically violent story. It’s the story of a world where there are orcs and elves (and humans at the very least kind of in the middle) and a very rickety peace between them all. For five thousand years this peace has lasted, but the orcs aren’t having any of it anymore.

On the good side, there are the Orcslayers. They do exactly as their name implies, as the orcs in this particular tale, are uh… pretty slayworthy. They are portrayed as just ridiculously bad, mainly through the use of rape as a ‘rape is bad, and these guys rape everyone, so they’re bad’. The leader of the orcs is usually portrayed as either in the middle of raping someone, or just having finished raping someone. So, there’s a lot of rape in this world (and it’s not confined to just women either, orcs just rape errybody in the world, so hide yo kids and hide yo wife, etc), but it’s not described as much as it is implied. But, that said… uh, if that’s something you’re sensitive about, probably skip this one. The point though, is that orcs are just… bad. They are rapey, and they are bad.

It’s said that the Orcslayers were given their powers by the seven elven gods. They are more or less the avatar of whichever god they represent, so there are normally seven of them. On top of their considerable skill, they get some pretty sweet armor that changes depending on the circumstance, and sweet, sweet sometimes-sentient weapons. At least one of them has a talking sword, anyway, which is kind of badass. It sings when it’s killing orcs. Sings. But, it turns out that there are actually eight gods, and so there are eight possible avatars among the Orcslayers. Dun. Dun. DUUUUUNNNNN.

So we follow several points of view here but the main ones are:

Saethryth, who is an elven Orcslayer. He’s one of the very last of them, and the orcs have pretty much killed his whole family and he’s pretty much going to revenge them all. With his singing, sentient badass orcslaying sword.

Melress, who is a half-elven battlemage, who, because of his heritage (half-elves are not really liked), has been bullied most of his life, but he’s still turned out to be not an asshole because of it. He’s also Sethryth’s half-brother, and he has a talking raven named Caw as a familiar.

Bazak is a half-orc (and half-human) who is sent by his father, who hates him because of the half-human thing, to start shit and spy in the human/elven lands. He’s a piece of shit. Most orcs hate him because he’s half-human. It doesn’t really stop him from being as orc as he can be. There’s more than one instance of him somehow magicking himself into an elf, seducing a girl, and then (at the very least making a fine attempt at) killing her. More than one instance. This audiobook is only 6 hours long, lol.

Tierra is an elven battlemage who got tricked into sleeping with Bazak for like a month without realizing what he is, because of the whole magic-into-an-elf thing. She’s aghast that she got tricked like this and so she’s out for revenge. She ends up joining the Orcslayers and teams up with Saethryth to do some revenging. Also other unrelated things. With their genitals, obviously.

I have to admit that the Orcslayers and their related powers were pretty frigging cool sounding. The singing/talking sword was pretty awesome on its own, but Saethryth, for example, also has a latent power where he is immune to metal. You can stab the dude and nothing happens. Tierra can fling coins hard enough to pass through stuff like a bullet. It’s vaguely Mistborn-esque, but utilized in a neat way all the same. Melress is like a necromancer. He can heal people and raise zombies, though he doesn’t always know how to control that particular power. This results in some mildly funny zombies.

Sometimes this book was a little overly ridiculous for my taste, but it uses its ridiculousness and grimness to good purpose most of the time. The story is quick and the plot rolls at a good pace. I personally could do without some things like ‘necromancy affects sperm somehow’ but I’ll give that one a pass only because that shit made me snortle (chortle-snort) out loud in the middle of my workplace. So loud a coworker checked in on what was so funny. ‘Pregnant zombie, lol.’ ;D This was only exacerbated by one of the characters falling into random instalove with the pregnant zombie whose zombie baby is heavily hinted at being a very important zombie baby, lol. There are more sex scenes than I was expecting, most of which were… meh… >.>; they weren’t the main focus of the story, and weren’t the absolute worst. Still, they mostly seemed unnecessary in the first place.

The narrator was… well, he’s not the worst narrator I’ve ever heard, but nowhere near the best. He has a strange cadence at times, and… perhaps not slurs exactly but sort of… mumbles some words? Trips over some words perhaps? It almost sounds like the book skips when this happens, so for all I know it’s an audio editing thing, but there are instances of other words which were randomly mispronounced like they were just stumbled over. For instance, occasionally, the word across has a very noticeable ‘T’ at the end of it, for some reason. One of my co-workers pronounces it this same way sometimes, so perhaps it’s some sort of regional thing? Some of the accents were really quite bad, too. Others were less bad but sounded really forced.

But, that all said, it evens out a little bit, because this guy drops f-bombs like he *means* it. He says fuck like it’s a word that he’s not quite sure about, and so goes whole hog just in case. Like he’s not quite sure of the level of emphasis needed, so it gets maximum emphasis every time, lol. It was hilarious, if I’m honest, because this book has a veritable fuckton of fucks in it. This is something I point out not in a ruined-the-book-at-all way, but just something that I noticed, lol. It lightened up the whole thing, and made what I would have called a bad narration…. not actually as bad as I initially thought it would be (though still not great, honestly =\). I hope he continues to narrate though. I think he’ll be great at it with more practice. The potential is there, because his voice has a nice tone,ย  it’s just the diction that needs work.

All told I’d call this one right in the middle. 2.5/5 stars.

The red electric raven is kind of a cool effect if I’m honest. ๐Ÿ˜€

This is a small collection of short stories set in the world of The Eighth God. It’s narrated by Damien Brunetto, the same guy who narrated the first book, and is only about an hour and a half long.

Monsters are on the rise and Gods walk the streets of Ashen Falls in four stories that serve as a prelude to The Eighth God.ย 

Melress and The Fading Man
A young half-elven boy is kidnapped by a children’s nursery rhyme.

The Doves Head Inn
Someone wants to get their hands on The Doves loot, but they have to get past two bouncers to do it.

Melress Investigates
Something is killing residents of Ashen Falls, and a young Melress is found standing next to a body. Can the Battle Mage find the real culprit?

The Scarecrow
It’s a foggy night in Ashen Falls, and soon monsters walk the streets led by a man with one thing on his mind – revenge!

Despite the fact that it is described as a prelude to The Eighth God, I chose to read it afterwards, just so that I had a good idea what the characters were like before I dove in, and I don’t regret that decision, though it can definitely be read first as well. These stories follow either Melress who is my favorite character from the series so far, or Pock and Cock, the bouncers from the Doves Head Inn. Sometimes both.

In the first story, Melress and the Fading Man, we get a story from the point of view of a 7-year-old Melress who is kidnapped by a nursery rhyme character, the Fading Man, a man who comes and snatches naughty children. It gives a little bit of insight into some of Melress’ abilities as a half elf, and just how mature and sensible he is, as a character. It also explains how Melress and Caw, his raven familiar met, as well as how he and Beatrice met.

The Doves Head tells the story of Pock and Cock, two brothers who are the bouncers of the Doves Head Inn in Ashen Falls. It seemed like a normal everyday night at the inn, and Pock and Cock were just hanging out and playing some cards when shenanigans happen! This was a fun little story.

Melress Investigates takes place when Melress is 13 years old and in battlemage training. He and Caw are wandering Ashen Falls when they stumble upon a body in an alley. Melress, being Melress, decides to help the investigation of the murder. This story had an interesting ending that I didn’t see coming at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Scarecrow was a neat little story about a man who calls himself the Scarecrow (because they scare birds) and his revenge against the proprietor of a certain inn in Ashen Falls and two certain bouncers that also reside there. The manner in which he attacks is interesting, and makes it quite hard for his enemies to fight back. Interesting story, with some neat ideas in it. Necromancy shenanigans!~

All told, a pretty neat little collection of stories. I may even go as far to say that I liked this little collection more than I liked the book they’re based on. 3.5/5 stars. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Eighth God

Tales from Ashen Falls

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