Title: Chaos (The Lost Gods book 5)
Author: Megan Derr
Cover Artist: London Burden
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Buy Link: Chaos (The Lost Gods)
Genre: M/M fantasy romance
Length: 100,000 words
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary review: A marvellous and complex end to what has been a very original series.
Sealed off from the world for nine hundred years, Schatten is a country of darkness and mystery. The power of Teufel, Shadow of the Lost Licht, keeps the rest of the world out, and his deadly Sentinels keep the people of Schatten in. Their only hope for salvation lies in a single line of ancient prophecy.
Sasha wakes up with no memory of where he is, how he got there—or who he is. All he remembers is his name, and falling to a terrible beast with burning violet eyes. All he possesses are the clothes he wears, the weapons he carries, and a strange ring. All he can do is venture deeper into the land of snow and ice in which he is lost, hoping that eventually he will find answers.
Book five in The Lost Gods series is the culmination of all the ideas from the previous books. Throughout the series there has been mention of the child of chaos who will break into the land of Schatten, a mysterious closed off land which is ruled over by a tyrannical shadow of a god, Teufel. Sasha is that child of chaos who has been charged with infiltrating the country and starting a chain of events which will free the people of Schatten. However, there’s a slight hitch to the plan when Sasha is cursed by Schatten Sorcerer, and loses his memories. He is rescued by a kindly set of villagers, who allow him to recover in the house of David, an orphaned young man whose protector has recently died. Meanwhile the High Seer of Schatten, Friedrich, is trying to find out where Sasha is. Friedrich is one step away from madness – a fate shared by all High Seers – and hears the voice of another man in his head.
If my summary above is a little garbled, then I apologise! It really has been quite hard to set out in a brief fashion the events of this book. The story basically follows two pairs. The first pair is Sasha and David. After Sasha has been nursed back to health, it becomes impossible to ignore the way that Sasha’s chaotic influence is affecting the country and they set off to the temple Unheilvol where Sasha knows he has to confront the High Seer. Along the way there are lots of adventures and they develop their romance. Sasha is much older than David, but they still worked for me as a couple. David is one of those characters who is innocent, yet brave and stubborn. I liked him a great deal and he fit well into the type of character who grows and changes as a result of his experiences with Sasha, who is taken from the comfort of familiar surroundings and becomes something special because he is willing to take a risk. It’s a type which will be familiar to many fantasy readers but David was anything but a trope.
The second pairing is that of Friedrich and Drache. This pair worked less well for me, mainly because Drache spends most of the book in Friedrich’s head. Their romance is already established at the beginning and Drache takes on the role of advisor and support to Friedrich. Their love for each other is strong but because most of the action between them involves Friedrich, I didn’t really feel that I knew Drache well. The twist to their romance was a great surprise to me and that aspect of the story was particularly effective. As a character, Friedrich is complex and well drawn. His shared history with other High Seers, the politics of Unheilvol, his gift of seeing, all combine to make him very interesting indeed and as most of the history and religion of Schatten is seen through Freidrich, he forms the basis for much of the setting.
The setting itself is as full and rich as the previous books in the series. The tone here is dark, as is fitting for a country who live in fear of the deadly sentinals who roam the wild lands, and who are controlled by a half-god driven almost to madness by grief. The endless winter conditions and the grim demeanor of the people, steeped in superstition and reliant on a life told to them at a young age, give us a picture of a country and people in decline. Sasha’s arrival signals a change which is both devastating and renewing for the country and some of the scenes reflect the fear to be found in the setting. Despite the bleakness, the book contains hope in the form of Sasha and I found the complexity of the setting very engaging.
I did have a niggle about the story, which was to do with Sasha’s true identity. Sasha’s memory loss means that he and the reader do not know who he really is until about half way through the book. Then the information is given to us through a lengthy flash-back. Not only was this rather a clumsy way of giving the information, as it seemed out of place at that point in the narrative, but when we discover Sasha’s true identity, I couldn’t understand why it had been hidden from us. It wasn’t so surprising, and in terms of the structure of the book this scene may have been better placed as a prologue. However, that niggle wasn’t enough to spoil the story for me too much.
If you’ve been following this series, then this final book is a must-read – but it cannot be read as a stand-alone as this story builds on what has come before in previous books. It concludes everything nicely, and allows for an ending which deals with the past whilst looking to the future. The fantasy aspects were excellent, the characters sympathetic and the story gripping. I highly recommend this book and The Lost Gods series as a whole to those who like fantasy stories which as strong on character, setting and action.