Book Review: The Killing God (The Great God’s War #3) by Stephen R. Donaldson

  • Title: The Killing God (The Great God’s War #3)
  • Author: Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Would I recommend: If you’re a fan of high fantasy, this is a good one.


Two kingdoms, ancient enemies, must stand alone against an implacable invader in the masterful conclusion of the Great God’s War epic from the New York Times bestselling author of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

They are coming.

The kingdoms of Belleger and Amika had been fighting for generations. But then they learned of a terrible threat moving through them to destroy the Last Repository, an immense hidden library. To face this greater enemy, King Bifalt of Belleger and Queen Estie of Amika allied their lands and prepared for war.

They are at the door.

Now the time of preparation is over. Black ships and sorcery test the cannon that defend the Bay of Lights. Treachery and betrayal threaten the kingdoms. The priests of the Great God Rile sow dissent. And Estie rides for the Last Repository, desperate to enlist the help of their Magisters–and to understand the nature of her own magical gift.

They are here.

Bifalt hates sorcery as much as he loves Estie, and the discovery that she could become a Magister shatters him. But he must rally and fight. Belleger and Amika are all that stand between the Great God’s forces and his ultimate goal: the destruction of the Last Repository and its treasure of knowledge.

My review:

I was a fan of Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series back in the day. So when I got the chance to read The Killing God, I jumped at it. (No, I hadn’t read the first two in the trilogy. Y’all know how I am sometimes.)

Here we see two countries, Belleger and Amika, historical enemies united by the marriage of Bifalt and Estie, preparing for war against the Great God Rile. Rile and his forces are coming for the Last Repository and all the knowledge it holds. While Bifalt prepares for war, Estie rides for the Last Repository, hoping to learn more about the power she holds and how she might use it to defend her people.

The relationship between Bifalt and Estie is strained. They parted on less than loving terms. Bifalt hates magic and it pains him to know that his wife could become a Magister. Estie longs to reconcile with her husband, but is driven to know more about this power of hers. What power is it? What can it do? What price will it exact from her?

We’ve got some good fantasy elements here: good versus evil, a conflicted hero (and heroine), a seemingly insurmountable quest. Donaldson uses them to good advantage and writes a story that, once it sucks you in, is hard to put down.

The Magisters’ powers were fascinating, and the price that each seemed to require the wielder to pay wasn’t always what you’d expect. Rile’s forces were also not the standard slash-and-burn soldiers. It was never a given that the good guys would win this one!

There wasn’t a lot of character development on the side of evil – they were just the Big Bad and had to be stopped. But the Magisters, Bifalt’s soldiers, Bifalt and Estie themselves, were all nicely written and made me care about what happened to them. Okay, some more than others. Some of the Magisters were just jerks and not terribly likeable, but I suppose wielding great power (and in some instances, carrying a very heavy burden for others) could make you that way.

The story does take a while to get rolling, and Rile’s motivation for wanting to wipe out the Last Repository wasn’t terribly clear to me. But that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. I will go back and read the first two in the series, to see if Rile’s actions make more sense to me after reading the story as a whole.

Four stars, and I recommend The Killing God and The Great God’s War series to anyone who’s a fan of high fantasy, with main characters that make you care about how things turn out for them. Stephen R. Donaldson doesn’t give us a quick read, but he does give us a damn fine story here.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Berkley and Netgalley. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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