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

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

Cover art illustrated by Eshpur

Deathless by Rob J. Hayes

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 196 pages (Kindle edition)

Publish date: 23rd of July 2024 by Rob J. Hayes (Self-Published)

Deathless was, unbelievably, even better than Demon; this is an intense and dark political epic fantasy done right.

”It takes more than one person to birth a conspiracy. “

First, I will repeat what I said in my review for Demon. 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.

“A civilisation is lost, not when the messages of our heroes are forgotten, but when they are corrupted. When we are led by those with the loudest voices, rather than those with the keenest minds. When learning is ridiculed and ignorance lauded.”

Although I am not following the recommended reading order of The God Eater Saga, which is to read Herald, Deathless, and Demon in that order, I must say… Rob J. Hayes has done a superb job in making sure each first book in a series worked as a standalone or a suitable starting point. If you read Deathless after reading Herald, I have no doubt your reading experience of this 70,000 words long short novel will differ from mine. But in my case, I read Demon first, and I can confidently say that I do not regret reading the saga in chronological order. Not one bit. It’s the other way around. I have read Demon, but I haven’t read Herald, and I believe my reading experience of Deathless was elevated because of it. I have a feeling Herald will explain the events that happened in Deathless and will spoil the elements of surprise.

“When faith becomes religion, and worship is enforced with threat and fear, morality actual suffers in the shadow of morality implied.”

Two thousand years have passed since the origin story of Dien Hostain in Demon started. In Deathless, we follow the story of King Ertide Hostain, who was once known as the legendary Crimson Prince. He fought side by side with angels and pegasi and defended the Sant Dien Empire against monsters. But his pact with Heaven has become strained. He has grown old, his body rots, and nearing his death, he has yet to choose which of his squabbling princes will be his heir. The Hostain dynasty has ruled over the empire for millennia, but when Ertide finds cryptic notes from his dead father, he realizes not all is as it seems. Has history been rewritten? And if so, what is Heaven hiding?

“Do the people serve the king, or does the king serve the people? Consider the circle. Strong and flexible, but a single break in the line and the structure falls apart. Therefore it might be better to say: The people DO serve the king, so that the king MAY serve the people.”

Immortality has a price, and it is paid in blood. If Demon is a survival and origin story of Dien Hostain, Deathless is a political epic fantasy story that depicts the genesis of the Godless Kings who took their war to Heaven. It will require a bit of time to get used to the many names of the Hostain family. Ertide is the sole POV character of Deathless, and most of the main supporting characters in this novel (unless certain revelations are revealed in later books) are descendants of Dien Hostain, the main character of Demon. In my opinion, The Hostain dynasty is starting to become one of the most fascinating fictional families brimming with potential for intricacies and family-tree explorations I have ever read. In a way, reading the story of the Hostain family in Demon and Deathless reminded me of the Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire or Radagon’s family in Elden Ring video game. I have yet to read Herald, and I am already sad I will be done with the first phase of The God Eater Saga soon.

“So many faces here I recognize… And just as many I don’t. I’m sorry about that. I wish I’d spent more time getting to know you all. But ours is a broad family. A tree with roots as deep as the world, and more branches than rivers feeding the World Vein. The Hostain blood runs strong in us all. The blood of the Saint, who forged humanity into an empire. The blood of rulers, who have held us all together and brought us prosperity and wisdom and strength.”

Ertide Hostain and his descendants, especially Rikkan, Mertred, Caran, Emrik, and Arandon, are some of the most memorable characters in Deathless. As I mentioned, give yourself time to adjust to the many names quickly forwarded to the reader. But once you get the bearing of who’s who and their respective crucial role in the narrative, I guarantee you it will be a challenge to put Deathless down. The first half is basically the calm before the storm moments. Hayes needed this section to efficiently establish the build-up before the explosive second half. And the payoff is utterly brilliant. I read the second half of Deathless in one sitting. The scheming, the manipulations, the revelations, and the brutal confrontations of ideals, wishes, freedom, and greed made Deathless a thoroughly engaging read with a satisfying ending. The angel of the First Age—Orphus—and the Fourth Age—Oronesus—are more involved in the plotlines when compared to Demon. It was an incredible experience to read and learn more about the world-building and history Hayes has prepared for The God Eater Saga with each book. And I cannot wait to read more of it.

“History is mutable, written not by the hand of relevance, but instead by those with ink to spare.”

Because this is a short novel, I will not take too much of your time reading this review. Deathless is a blaze of glory that became one of the author’s best work to date. I wholeheartedly recommend Demon and Deathless. Hayes is brewing something special with The God Eater Saga. And to think that I haven’t even read the main novel of the saga, Herald, yet! However, after reading Demon, Deathless, and The Mortal Techniques series, I already feel secure in proclaiming Rob J. Hayes as one of my favorite fantasy authors. The magnificent tale of greed, ambition, power, faith, and fall from grace in Deathless is bound in blood. I have a strong instinct that the repercussions of the vermillion actions in Annals of the God Eater, even when the second and third phase of the saga is not written yet, will seep into Age of the God Eater series. I am ready for Herald.

You can order this book from: Amazon | Blackwells (Free International shipping)

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