Book Review: Demon (Archive of the God Eater, #1) by Rob J. Hayes

Book Review: Demon (Archive of the God Eater, #1) by Rob J. Hayes

Cover art illustrated by Eshpur

Demon by Rob J. Hayes

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Archive of the God Eater (Book #1 of 3), The God Eater Saga

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 202 pages (Kindle edition)

Publish date: 6th of August 2024 by Rob J. Hayes (Self-Published)

Wow. Demon was short, impactful, dark, and brutal.

“On wings of vengeance and blood set ablaze, freedom for all mankind!”

First things first. I will repeat this in my review of Deathless and Herald as well. The God Eater Saga by Rob J. Hayes is a big series divided into three trilogies. Herald is the first book in Age of the God Eater trilogy. Deathless is the first book in Annals of the God Eater trilogy, and it takes place a thousand years before the events of Herald. Finally, Demon is the first book in Archive of the God Eater trilogy, and the story begins three thousand years before the events of Herald. These three surmised the first phase of The God Eater Saga by Rob J. Hayes. Hayes wrote the three first volumes concurrently, and he’s currently writing the second phase of The God Eater Saga, the respective sequel to these three books.

“Consequences are like your shadow. Sometimes they’re before you, and sometimes behind, but they’re always there. You can never escape your shadow, no matter how far you try to run from it.”

I did not plan to start Demon this soon. Hayes’ recommended reading order for The God Eater Saga is to read Herald, Deathless, and Demon in that order. This is an understandable and valid reading order. Herald is the main novel, and it is far bigger compared to Deathless and Demon. My original plan was to follow that recommendation. But seeing that other readers have read Demon first without feeling like they’ve lost anything from doing it, I decided to read the first chapter of Demon for the purpose of sampling Hayes’ writing in The God Eater Saga. Little did I know it would absorb me into finishing the 60,000-word novel in a single day. It was that compelling. And honestly, I needed to read a fantasy novel as dark as Demon again.

“Pride is a tool like any other, little bug. In the wrong hands, it can be a terrible thing. But it can also be used to inspire good in people. If you can retain enough pride to do the right thing, even in the face of scorn and ridicule, you can inspire that same pride in others.”

The story in Demon revolves around Dien Hostain. Kind of heart and quick in temper, Dien expects to lead a simple life, learning her father’s trade. But unbeknown to her, her father was not always a carpenter. He’s an exile, a traitor once known as the Peace Breaker. When nightmarish demons attack the village of Berrywhistle, her father is murdered. Dien and the survivors are taken as thralls to live out the rest of their days in squaller and back-breaking labor. But Dien’s blood boils with the need to escape and take her revenge. As you can tell from the premise here, it did not take long for Demon to turn a wrong turn into the territory of darkness. Dien’s life is a harsh one. And if you are squeamish about explicit violence in your fantasy books, Demon will be challenging to read. I, personally, felt like I needed to read Demon first ahead of Deathless and Herald. Yes, I haven’t read Deathless and Herald yet, but lately, the feeling of danger from the epic fantasy books I read this year is frequently missing. The books are great. The world-buildings are immersive. But I did not feel scared for the main characters. Demon reminded me of that feeling of danger again. To feel the fear for the character’s fate, to know Hayes is not shy of putting the characters through insanely brutal ordeals.

“The true measure of a man isn’t what they do when life is easy, it’s what they’re capable of when things get hard. But Dien was starting to think he had it backwards. The true measure was what a person was unwilling to do, no matter how tough life was. That was what defined them, what raised them above the demons. The codes they lived by, each and every one of them.”

The entire story in Demon is told from the perspective of Dien alone. And having been a fan of The Mortal Techniques by Hayes, I know the fast-paced and accessible writing style I’d get. And Hayes did not disappoint on this. It has been a while since I read anything by Hayes, and I had a blast reading Demon. Dien is a supportable main character. As violent as the story gets, I still refuse to call Demon a grimdark fantasy novel. Dien is a kind-hearted character who cares about her family and friends. Her friendship with Helena, in particular, felt genuine. There was a bit of a slow-down in the middle portion of Demon, but it was a minor distraction to the overall reading experience. The action sequence at the end and how far Dien is willing to go to save herself and her friends made me incredibly excited to read the rest of The God Eater Saga.

“It takes a person of rare courage to stand when everyone else kneels. And it takes a person of ever rarer heart to inspire others to stand with them.”

I won’t be able to tell yet whether it is the correct decision to begin my journey in The God Eater Saga from reading Demon instead of Herald. However, for now, Demon worked well as a standalone novel that does not require you to read Deathless or Herald first. I’m sure some elements in the world-building and the appearance of angels would be imbued with greater impact if I had done that, but right now, I am satisfied with starting Demon as my starting point. It is a short fantasy novel, and I am sure one day I will read Demon again after I finished Deathless and Herald.

“You’re wrong. There is always hope as long as you have the courage to hold on to it. It’s the one thing they can never take from us.”

In such a short epic fantasy novel, Hayes ensured Demon is not lacking in vivid intensity, darkness, hope, and both likable/despicable characters. The themes of kindness, determination, pride, and the nature of evil were explored efficiently. Hayes has mentioned The God Eater Saga is his magnum opus and most ambitious project yet. If Deathless and Herald end up being as good or superior to Demon, then I believe The God Eater Saga will become the author’s best series in his career.

“My da told me real strength doesn’t come from the arms or from any muscle. It comes from the spirit. It comes from the will to do what is right. He said it comes from having the guts to stand there and say no even when someone is beating on you, screaming at you to say yes. My da said he knew from both sides that being good to those who mean you harm isn’t real strength but being willing to stand up and say no more even under threat… that’s strong.”

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One thought on “Book Review: Demon (Archive of the God Eater, #1) by Rob J. Hayes

  1. I keep hearing about this author and I want to try a book by Rob J. Hayes! The synopsis sounds great. I appreciate you breaking down the reading order because it’s a bit complicated. If I read this I’ll be sure to remember. Anyways, great review!

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