Eyes of God, The by John Marco

Buy this book and read it. There, that’s why you’re really reading this review right? Well you probably want to know why you should read this book. There are characters that are as believable as the people you know. The world and nations are mirrors of those in our own world. And magic, what would a great fantasy novel be without a dose of magic? There’s that too, don’t worry.

Marco has created a world of wondrous lands such as the kingdom of Liira, the distant land of Jador and the magical land of Grimhold, home to the Inhumans, a group of strange people, each with their own special knack or ability. Add to this the shining Bronze Knight Lukien, his king Akeela, the magical Eyes of God and Devil’s Armor and you have all the ingredients necessary for your typical Fantasy.

From the opening sentence “He was a giant,” we are given a sense of epic proportion to this novel. You can’t help but feel that this story will be grand and large. At the end of the almost 800 pages of this book, you will feel as if you’ve lived the triumphs of the Inhumans, the tragedies of Akeela and the lands of Jador and the complexities of Lukien’s many choices. As big as this book is, every word, scene and word spoken by the characters is essential and necessary.

The novel starts with the ending of a quest which is where many a story or novel ends. In The Eyes of God, we see what can happen AFTER the journey, when what you’ve quested after is achieved. To the nth degree, we see that the end of the quest is not the answer your looking for and sometimes, life doesn’t exactly get easier once you get what you’ve been reaching for. The answers get harder to find because the questions change.

The relationship between Akeela and Lukien is a strong one, whether they are on the same side or opposing sides. Raised almost as brothers, their bonds run pretty strong and when all is said and done, their friendship is perhaps the strongest and most defining aspect of this novel.

You will find yourself empathizing, almost sympathizing, with even their most despicable acts. Marco sets up so many events you expect to happen, only to twist your expectations into something better. None of these characters are defined by “good” or “evil,” rather by their strongest beliefs and motivations and reaching what they feel is the right thing. Marco created some of the most believable characters I can remember reading, I felt emotionally tied to all of them.

There were little things that Marco sprinkled throughout the story that added, just a few words while he was putting you in the heads of various characters. There is resonance of Arthur in Akeela, Lancelot in Lukien and Guinevere in Cassandra and of course Camelot a bit in Liira. Overall, John Marco has created a rich, bountiful novel that will (excuse the pun) be a classic years down the road. I would not be surprised to see this book short-listed on more than one genre award ballot.

John Marco progressively gets better with each book he writes. There are some things in The Eyes of God that will remind you of his previous work, The Tyrants and Kings Trilogy, yet there is so much new and alive in this book.

This novel has all the elements of a superb novel: Excellent characters, a gripping believable story and a world that comes alive off the pages. Ultimately this novel worked because I couldn’t stop turning the pages and HAD to find out what was going to happen next. I still want to find out what happens next with these characters.

Reviewed by Rob H. Bedford

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