Monday, October 27, 2008

The Nameless God by Emily Veinglory

TITLE: The Nameless God
AUTHOR: Emily Veinglory
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 52k)
GENRE: Gay fantasy romance
COST: $6.99

As a menial hoghand, Fisk has few expectations. All that changes when he’s struck down by a vision from an unknown god. He attempts to do what the god requests, but he’s branded as cursed and banished from the keep, the only home he has. Fisk only has the clothes on his back, until Levin, the kind knight he’d warned of his master’s demise, finds him and announces he’s been called by his goddess to protect Fisk. He calls Fisk “prophet,” a label Fisk abhors, and together, they struggle to obey his nameless god’s orders. But with each vision leaving him weaker and weaker, they can’t even be sure Fisk will live long enough to try…

NOTE: This is a review originally written for Uniquely Pleasurable.

Though I rarely get influenced by cover art, the moment I saw this one – coupled with the title and the fact that it was written by Emily Veinglory – I was intrigued. Veinglory has a way of surprising me. Sometimes it’s her voice. Sometimes it’s her characters. In this, it was a combination of both, with some genuine thought-provoking ideas thrown in for good measure.

As a lowly serf, reliant on his job for his very existence, the last thing Fisk needs is to receive a debilitating vision from a god that doesn’t even identify itself. He doesn’t know quite what to think of it, especially since he’s too fatalistic to really put too much stock in gods. His confusion grows worse when he discovers that his little vision has knocked him out for nearly a day, and he wakes temporarily unable to move his legs. Much of Fisk’s attitude regarding his early visions rings familiar, mirroring the skepticism so prevalent in modern society. He feels like they’re true, but of what use are visions when he gets kicked out of the job he needs just to survive because of them? His initial ambivalence is palpable, and later, when Levin shows up with the announcement that now he’s Fisk’s protector, his reluctance to accept what seems like something too good to be true resonates deeply. This attitude colors most of their early interactions.

Compared to Fisk’s complexities, Levin seems almost too simple to be believed. He’s steadfast and honorable, dedicated to his calling. His unshakeable belief in both Fisk and his duty makes it a little tiring to listen to him as the story goes on. Fisk whines. Levin remains calm. Fisk argues. Levin barely snaps. Fisk does a lot of things that would drive many people around the bend, and yet, the vast majority of the time, Levin smiles and accepts it, or counters with a calm and uninjured manner. Just as Fisk’s new position in life seems a little too good to be true, so does Levin. In fact, it’s not until nearer the conclusion, as events around Fisk grow tighter and tighter, that he starts to get interesting. But then, the story ends, and I’m left wishing there was another one immediately so I could continue these characters’ journeys.

The romance in this plays second to the larger story. While Levin and Fisk share their more intimate moments, they’re more grounds for developing Fisk as a character and propelling the grander scheme of his visions and their effects than normal romance expectations. Part of me is even reluctant to label it a romance, but in the end, the fact that his relationship with Levin is critical to Fisk’s personal growth sways me back. Levin provides an anchor in a chaotic world. Through him, Fisk learns what he must in order to survive. The path they both take is a fascinating one.

In the end, the book and its characters fascinate me. The quiet desolation that permeates from start to finish creates an irresistible atmosphere, sucking me into the story’s events and the characters’ lives with frightening ease. While I’m left with questions about where things go from the end, and hesitations regarding Levin’s well-roundedness compared to other characters (I really don’t want to think of Levin as purely a foil simply because I want more from all of them, though it’s obvious he does play that role here), the story remains eloquent and engrossing. I can only hope the author hopes to continue the saga. There is so much to be explored.


9/10 – Rich with detail and personality

Hero #1

8/10 – Fisk has a fatalistic desolation to him that makes it easy to empathize with everything that is going on to him

Hero #2

6/10 – Too agreeable for much of the story to be very realistic; just as he starts to get interesting, the story ends

Entertainment value

8/10 – A fascinating world, with believable characters…I can only hope there’s a sequel planned

World building

9/10 – A wonderful balance of detail and atmosphere



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