Cover Image: The Godstone

The Godstone

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DNF at 41%

The Godstone has interesting ideas and unique world-building, but despite supposedly high stakes, lacks any sense of urgency. And I didn't care enough about the characters to want to continue reading after slogging through the first 40%. This certainly as potential and feels innovative, but it needed more work to get the pacing to match the plot.

This follows a practitioner (read magic-user) named Fenra, traveling from the rural village where she serves as a healer to the City and seat of power. Traveling with her is is Arlyn Albainil, an old man with secrets.

The world exists in a series of Modes where clothing and technology change, based on context clues I THINK they are intended to mirror different periods of civilization and development that we've experienced, but it's never explained clearly. There is magic, an enormously dangerous Godstone, and even portals to alternate dimensions. If it sounds cool, conceptually it really is. But in practice, despite this supposedly world-ending danger, the characters just kind of meander along without any sense of urgency.

And look, I'm all for slow, cozy fantasy that takes time for detail and explanation. But then you need to make your plot match that, and also spend more time with in-depth characterization. And that's not what we get here. Unfortunately this really wasn't working for me, though if you have more patience with this you might still like it. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Review: 4 Stars

I picked up an ARC of The Godstone on a whim because the blurb sounded interesting, but I didn’t really expect much from this book. When Susy wanted to buddy read it with me I figured it would help motivate me to pick it up as sometimes I procrastinate reading epic fantasies, but I had no idea how much I’d enjoy this book. Once I picked up The Godstone I found it really easy to tear through and was surprised by how much I really enjoyed this book. The Godstone jumps right into the plot and moves pretty quickly. This fantasy debut was a really wild ride and I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this one.

The characters were all well written and there are multiple points of view. It was really nice to get the story from multiple angles, including the POV of the villain, While Arlyn was at the center of the story, he wasn’t my favorite character. Arlyn was a really interesting character that had many sides to him and watching him grow throughout this book was one of my favorite aspects of this story. Fenra was my favorite character. She was really kind-hearted and saw the good sides of everyone. I admired her caring heart and loved her personality. I really liked Elva as well. He was incredibly loyal and honorable. He kind of reminded me of Grey from A Curse So Dark and Lonely, except he could be incredibly brutal at times. I wound up really invested in all of these characters and their stories. I will definitely be reading the next book because I need more of these characters.

The Godstone is the type of fantasy novel where you’re just thrown into the world and you slowly pick up pieces of the magic system and world building along the way. I was a bit confused in the beginning, but as the story continued things became more and more clear. This book has a really fascinating magic system and world and I wish it was explained in a bit more depth. I found the Modes incredibly fascinating and the magic system was so cool. Everything was vividly described and really brought the story to life.

The plot revolved around the three main characters trying to keep the Godstone from falling into the wrong hands. It isn’t an action packed story, but the plot kept a steady pace and kept me captivated. I had a few issues with the book, like the confusing beginning and use of both third and first person points of view. These issues kept this book from being a 5 star read, but since this is the author’s debut I think a few kinks are to be expected. The Godstone really surprised me because I didn’t really expect much from this book, but I got amazing characters and a really fascinating world. I can’t wait to read the next installment and I am definitely going to be watching Violette Malan.
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3.5 / 5 ✪

https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/the-godstone-by-violette-malan-review/

Fenra Lowens is a practitioner come to the Outer Modes so that she can heal folk free from the politics of the City. It is a simple, quiet life, but one that she enjoys. But when one of her patients, Arlyn Albainil, is summoned to the White Court to execute the will of a long-missing relative, Fenra is returned to the City and all the matters she wished to avoid. For Arlyn suspects that this summons is not to simply read a will and return. No; rather the White Court is after Xandra Albainil’s vault, and the Godstone within it.

The very Godstone that Arlyn locked behind it centuries before.

But Xandra Albainil did not die: he became Arlyn. See, when Xandra bound the Godstone, it robbed him of his power. He became nothing more than a Mundane himself, and a sickly, Low one at that. Now, to keep the Godstone from falling into the wrong hands (or, any hands really), Arlyn needs Fenra to accompany him to the City and finish what he started—sealing the artifact away once and for all.

Along the way allies and foes both are discovered—from Arlyn’s one-time friend, to Fenra’s girlhood rival. The City remains much the same, but much has changed as well. The duo must navigate the old and new if they hope to make it through the ordeal alive, which means that all secrets must be exposed—including the ones they’re keeping from each other.

The book is written mostly in first-person, switching between the perspectives of Arlyn and Fenra. Though it’s a bit unusual to tell a story this way, it’s not the first time I’ve come across it. What was a first was the 3rd person narrative that was thrown in around a quarter of the way through. This 3rd person narrative is quickly joined by another, and so it continues for the rest of the text. So… two 1st person POVs and two 3rd person ones. Fenra and Arlyn get most of the screen time, but… wow. It took some getting used to. Fortunately, the author pulls it off rather well, so it was only muddy for a little.

Despite having less-than creative names and titles (“the City”—really?) I found the concept and world incredibly inventive. The world is divided into Modes, which apparently are only obvious to practitioners. When crossing between them clothes change. Technology changes. Buildings, walkways, language, money and nature all change. Hell, maybe even life and magic change. While Modes aren’t ever terribly well explained, the hints alone blew my mind. It was a constant struggle to figure out what the hell was going on in this book—but in a good way. Mostly (confusing is still confusing).

The Godstone itself is a great character. A sentient, powerful object with the potential to change or destroy the world? Something that has an agenda all of its own, but is inescapably linked to Xandra/Arlyn’s past, and thus has an unknown motivation and goal? It’s like those supervillains with the evil plans that sound crazy at first, but the more you read into them the more sane they sound. The other characters deliver as well, with Arlyn and Fenra being my favorites—fortunate as you have to put up with them a majority of the time.

Still, much like the Modes, not all of the book is satisfyingly explained. There’s one bit where a character just vanishes—and their disappearance isn’t even noted. They’re just—gone. And never mentioned again. The White Court is center stage for much of the book but was never really explained well enough for me. At the same time, the Red Court—the White’s counter court—isn’t explained at all. I mean, they’re feared and respected, but otherwise… It wasn’t so much that they were mysterious, elusive, or enigmatic. They were just… not explained.

TL;DR

The Godstone does quite a lot right—telling an immersive and highly inventive story through diverse and relatable characters, causing the reader to become deeply invested in the outcome. But it can also be quite confusing. While mostly it’s confusing in a good way, sometimes confusing is just confusing. Too often there were terms or organizations that just weren’t explored or explained, despite playing a fairly vital role in the plot. In a longer book this would’ve just bogged everything down. In this shorter format, it kept me guessing—an elusive mystery that I just couldn’t put my finger on. Hopefully most of these issues will be resolved in Book 2 (a thing I didn’t know was a thing until I read the blurb about a “new epic fantasy series” while writing up this review)—something I’m already cautiously optimistic about!
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An epic fantasy with an artifact with world-ending ramifications sounds right up my alley.. except this didn’t quite work out for me.

“I am thinking how much I could have learned from you over the years of our acquaintance if I had known who and what you were.”
He went still as a statue for a long moment before answering. “You might have learned how to be so sure of yourself that you endangered the whole world.”


Practitioner Fenra has been happy living in a village in an outer Mode, far from the City and the political machinations of the White Court. When it becomes clear that Arlyn, one of her patients, intends to travel back to the City to investigate the death of a relative, she agrees to accompany him. But Arlyn hasn’t told her everything, and their arrival in the City sets off a string of events that could end in the destruction of the world.

The character development was excellent. Each character seems quite simple at first: a village woodcarver with a strange illness (Arlyn), a simple village healer (Fenra), and a gunslinger (Elva). But as the book progresses, more layers are revealed through their actions and their internal monologues, as there are first-person POVs from the three main characters as well as the bad guy. To be honest, I wish it hadn’t been spoiled in the synopsis that Arlyn and Xandra are the same person – somewhat. Arlyn swears – and Fenra’s inclined to believe – that he’s a different person now, but Elva has his doubts. And frankly, Xandra isn’t someone I would’ve wanted to meet. In fact, Practitioner Metenari, the guy who forged the documents to summon Arlyn back to the city, shares more than a few traits with Xandra (something Elva isn’t hesitant to point out), including his belief in his own superiority. In contrast, Fenra, the healer who only wanted a quiet life, was my favorite, and honestly the only reason I kept reading the book at some points.

The book is definitely of the “throw you in head-first” school of worldbuilding. Normally this is something I enjoy, but it felt like my confusion lasted for too long with this book over even frequently repeated words like forran. Once I started to understand it, though, the world building grew on me. The idea of Modes – technologically separate areas that Practioners can see the changes to as they travel through but “mundanes” cannot – was absolutely fascinating, and I would’ve liked to have read more about them. Though the magic system remains consistent, each practitioner has a slightly different way of doing things, and I loved that Fenra’s focus on healing infused her whole magical practice.

“Take your time,” I said to Fenra, meaning every word. “Be sure you’re ready. We only have to save the world.”


While I liked the character development and the world-building, where the book fell flat for me was in the pacing and plot. The pacing started out slow and stayed that way. Even with the possible destruction of the world is on the line, the pacing never picked up. And while there was plenty of action, the plot felt like it plodded along as well. It took me a while to get into the book, and then I was never quite hooked. And then all of a sudden, bam, there’s the end of the book. I liked some of the themes – like Fenra’s insistence on what’s important, even when the world is at stake – but it’s a bit lost in the rest of the book.

Overall, despite my love for Fenra and the magical system, the pacing greatly affected my enjoyment of the book. Cautiously recommended for fantasy lovers who don’t mind a slow pace.

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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What a weeeeird book (but in a good way). I knew very little about this going in, but the synopsis was pretty intriguing and I thought it had some potential. I was right on both counts, since I couldn’t put it down! 

It’s a little strange starting off since you’re thrust directly into the POVs of our two main characters Arlyn and Fenra both of which are in first person. Arlyn is supposedly a cabinet maker who has just been summoned to the city so that he might assist the White Court mages in opening his ancestor’s magical vault. It’s quickly revealed however that Arlyn is actually his supposedly dead ancestor Xandra Albainil and he’s been hiding out for countless years in this small village to avoid discovery. You see, he was one of the greatest practitioners (mages) to have existed and he created something called the Godstone and in his hubris thought he could “fix” the world. He quickly realized his error but couldn’t destroy the stone and only sealed it away in his vault, the effort stripping away his magic.

Fenra is a local practitioner in the same village that Arlyn is hiding in. They’ve developed a friendship of sorts and Arlyn visits her regularly for “leveling” which is almost depicted as her drawing him out of a depressive episode. When the story begins she’s about to depart the village because she’s failed to heal a child that was brought to her too late for healing. She doesn’t want to deal with the inevitable repercussions and bad feelings, so she agrees to join Arlyn on his trip to the city and to lend her expertise as a mage. She soon realizes his true identity, but continues to think of him as Arlyn. 

Fenra is a likable character for sure, and Arlyn seems to be at first. The further you go along, the more is revealed of Xandra, who was a very different person than Arlyn is now. He was arrogant and not exactly a “good” person. A third main character is introduced partway through the book named Elvanyn who’s a pretty cool dude and gets his own POV chapters.   The characters are great - it’s the worldbuilding where things get confusing. 

Apparently the world is divided into Modes, but only mages can really tell where the dividing lines are. Normal people lacking magic can’t tell and basically just think they live in the next county over. It’s never really explained what exactly the Modes are, but as you cross the divides, clothing seems to change, technology changes, buildings change… but I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a different time period or world or WHAT. It haunts me. There were many vague aspects of the worldbuilding that didn’t feel like “oooo mysterious magic”, but rather “what the hell is going on here”. With that being said, it was really interesting and I finished this book much more quickly than I expected to!

The Godstone was a satisfying, self contained fantasy with just enough weird to pull you in and keep things fresh. There are many things I’d love to have explored further, but it probably would have bloated the book into something tedious. I’d love a few short stories focusing on Fenra and Arlyn’s early lives at the White Court - tons of material available there!
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A single volume epic fantasy novel about the fate of a world and a particular artifact that could alter it forever, diving deeply into personal questions of identity, power, and mental health.
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I am very sorry to say I ended up DNF´ing this book. Although I like the idea of it, I just couldn´t get into it. I constantly felt like I was missing something and I couldn´t connect with the characters. Even when they told impactful stories about their lives which should make them relatable, I didn´t feel anything. This is probably a me-problem though, and I will definitely give this another shot some other time.
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This was a pleasant surprise. It is an epic fantasy with an amazing world-building, original and complex. In the beginning is a bit confusing, because we are just thrown there, and all is new and different and, yes, confusing. But, at least to me, this is not really a bad thing. This sense of wonder and confusion (and okay, let’s be honest here, more confusion than anything else) usually made for a hell of a ride in an amazing world. It could be that I am a bit biased, because to me this is the feeling I always get when reading Sanderson’s books, and since I love his books with a passion (and wonder, and amazement), usually I am always feeling at least optimistic when I find myself at a loss at the beginning of new books.
Anyway, the world-building is original, and I would have liked to read a bit more about it, especially about the Modes. They were an interesting concept. Also, the magical system was intriguing.

But things get even better. We have a really interesting cast of characters. We have Arlyn, who has some surprises for us, and I don’t really want to say a lot about him, because I don’t want to spoil you anything, even if we have the synopsis that is doing that for us (Argh!!). Anyway, Arlyn was my favorite character. He is quite complex, and I don’t think I would have really enjoyed who he was in the past, because he doesn’t really seem like a nice person, and his ambition was… wow! Just wow! But now he is an interesting and resourceful person, and even if he is not really a completely different person, because he is not a Saint, for crying out loud, he is not bad, and I really enjoyed his company. He is the one that grows or, better, changes more in the book, and speaking about growth here may not be so right, because he is not young. At all. But we see him change, and I couldn’t get enough of him around.
Then we have Fenra, and she was a good character, kind but with strong willpower, and even if she was quite a straightforward character, she was the one who made me wonder the most. I had so many questions about her! Because there were some mysteries in there, and even if they weren’t really of import for the plot, we can say that they were minor mysteries, they were like an itch that I couldn’t scratch. But not in a bad way. It was something that kept my interest piqued. Because I just needed to know the whys and the hows!
And then we have Elva. He is a sort of black and white guy, but he has some depths in him too. He is not plain, he is not predictable, but he is a great guy. He is determined, he is resourceful and he is loyal. He is the last to join our team, but he became important, and I am not talking about the plot here, pretty quickly.
And then we have the villain. And even if I really despised him, I think that he was one of the best things about this book. Mind me, Metenari was despicable, and he annoyed me to no end. When we read about him I was always irked, annoyed, and exasperated. I didn’t want to see him. At all. I despised him with a passion. But my strong reaction to him is pretty strange, because, to be honest, he is not really a villain. Sure, he is the villain of this story, at least until more powerful entities come into play, but he is not really evil. He is a pompous and arrogant practitioner, he is so much arrogant that he became stupid, but really, he is not evil. He cares for the people, in some ways, he is a calculating and self-serving slimy man. He is self-centered, and he is firmly convinced that no one is better than him. No one. But, again, for all his faults (and he has many, and yes, it seems like I may have some problems with this kind of character, sorry about that!) he is not really evil. Or bad at his core. And this dichotomy is well developed by this author.

We spoke about world-building, we spoke about the characters, and now it is the turn for the plot. If you are in search of some action-packed book, with a really fast pace, well, you may be disappointed here. But, and yes, there is a big but here, the story is not boring, at all. I found myself absorbed by it from the beginning. I was hooked, and it was just impossible to just put down the book and stop thinking about it. Because once you begin it, it would keep you hooked. And it is not slow, and there is a lot happening anyway. But the pace is more balanced, and we don’t really have a lot of action. But we have the future of the world at stake, and we have our cast of characters that are trying to prevent it. And we get to travel a lot, both in real and magical places, and we get to see quite a lot happening all the same.

The only thing that, at least to me, wasn’t great was the ending. It is not really bad, and it is quite the logical conclusion, so I cannot say that it was unexpected, but it was a bit rushed, and, on a personal level, I would have preferred another ending. But… oh well! I had a great time with it, and I really enjoyed the ride!

So, if you are in for a new world and some really interesting characters, with the fate of the world on balance, well, this would be the right book for you!
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The final arc I had planned for the month of July and if anything, it was an easy read.

I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and DAW for the opportunity.

I have my own blog now, so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :)

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I feel a bit conflicted whenever I review books like these, where there is a good idea overall, but it feels like there is something about it that doesn't make it as good as it could have been for me. The Godstone is a very good example of that because there is a very interesting world in this book, and having more than one entity trying to take control if you will, makes for an interesting possible political take to it.

However, I wouldn't necessarily say that there is a lot of politicking in this one as it was done in the background and then forgotten altogether, to focus on the things that the plot revolves around. This in itself is more than okay because the author focuses instead on the magic of the world and how that works which is very interesting and easily the best part of the book because of the numerous applications of it. More so, because there are no same types of magicians or practitioners I've seen so far, and being a big lover of magic, makes me excited.

The thing that sort of hurts that enjoyment a bit however, is that the book has main characters who already know everything there is to know about the basics of the world so whatever building the author is doing, is based on a foundation that I, the reader, have to extract from context. Which in truth, is made a bit more difficult because of the different terminologies used to describe certain aspects of it like Mode or Forran which are frequently used, but the actual real life synonyms of what they mean don't come until later in the book. This in itself does not hinder the flow of the story, but it does get old pretty quickly as it feels like I'm missing something to really make sense of the world as a whole which could have been easily fixed with a glossary.

That being said however, the magic is pretty diverse and a practitioner can apply their magic to quite a few things that made the story engaging when it came to it while making me think of the endless possibilities it could be applied to. For some reason, it also reminded me of Fullmetal Alchemist by the mangaka Arakawa Hiromu where alchemy is a huge field, but the applications of alchemy depends on the characters and their skill which technically has the same basic rules as the world in The Godstone. Personally, I believe that if the book was based in the White Court instead and the focus was just on the creation and that scientific side of the world, it would have been a lot more enjoyably for me because it feels like the author's strengths play into that part a lot more than the rest of the book's elements.

To be very honest, the book's major issue in my humble opinion is that there is a huge problem, that could potentially destroy the world, but the way the events move and how the characters interact with it, doesn't have a shred of urgency to really show me this. Everything is still done in that slow pace we started out with, taking their time to figure out how to move forward, every encounter with their opponents is anticlimactic and it felt like the main characters were running circles around everyone which in turn made me question why it's taken them that long to get anything done.

It's made even more apparent in the second half of the book when things should have kicked it up a notch based on what happened in the first half. However, nothing actually changes, everything is still the same and I started flipping the pages just to get to the end more so than anything else because that atmosphere is constant. It's very easy to read this book and I'll go as far to say that it's a page turner, but I wish that there was more to it to make the most of both of these qualities.

The synopsis says it's the start of a brand new series, which might mean that there might be a series of standalone books and that is great because I really do think that this book could have been fantastic on all fronts for me, so maybe the sequels will be if I ever get the chance to read them and if they do in fact exist.
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This book was…fine. I struggle to pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like about it. I think it was the lack of drive by the characters. Set in a world with magic practitioners, we follow our two main characters to the City as Arlyn has been called to be the executor of the will of a distant cousin. But plot twist, Arlyn is really the cousin that “died.” (Practitioners live a really long time and Arlyn has been in hiding). His goal is to protect (or does he?) an artifact that he made that could ruin the world. He brings along Fenra to help (aka use) as she is a much stronger practitioner than she seems. So back to my drive comment. The characters are literally trying to save the world, and there is no urgency within the plot or conversations. It’s like, oh I suppose we should try to get the Godstone before the other dude gets it. Oh darn, we didn’t, now we have to figure something else out. Shucks. I found the worldbuilding interesting, but there were some pretty big gaps in it (like for real, what is a Mode?!?) Anyway, I can’t recommend this, but I also can’t say don’t read it either. It’s just meh
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The Godstone by Violette Malan

Pros: good worldbuilding, interesting magic system, complex characters

Cons: a bit slow at times

When the artisan Arlyn Albainil receives word that his cousin Xandra named him executor of his testament he knows something’s up. The White Council wants to open Xandra’s practitioners’ vault, the place magic users keep their most important - and dangerous - work. But Arlyn knows what Xandra kept his his vault - the godstone - is a powerful artifact too dangerous to be released. So he enlists the help of the village practitioner, Fenra, to seal the godstone away forever. 

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding and learning how modes worked. There were a few confusing moments as the characters understood what was happening as they passed between modes in a way that wasn’t explained to the reader, but I caught on quickly. I also liked the complexity of magic and learning that there were other planes of existence. 

Fenra was a great character, compassionate but also pragmatic. I loved watching her relationship with Elvanyn develop. While her age is never given, it’s clear she’s not young, and her actions show the careful consideration of someone with a good deal of experience behind her.

The story was told from the three protagonists’ points of view, with the character named at the start of each section so it was very easy to keep track of whose thoughts you were sharing.

The pacing is slow but steady, doling out information at a good rate to keep you interested and with some tense scenes as the godstone comes into play.

I really enjoyed the book and if you like old school fantasy, you should give it a try.
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The Godstone was different from other fantasy books that I have read recently, giving fantasy a fresh take which was interesting. I really liked the characters arcs and where they ended up by the end of the book. The world was in the way it interacted with the magic. The magic system was interesting with the way it affected the world and moving the world from different places.
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A refreshing new fantasy that takes you on an adventure into a world where you never know what is going to happen.

This story had so many twists and turns, the weave of an amazing fantasy. I really enjoyed following the characters journey, and their development into who they become at the end of the book. They had depth and color, making them really interesting to read about.

The one thing I would have to say that was more negative about this story, there was no real world building. I expected the deep world around me that is always so prevalent in the fantasy genre, but that wasn't really what I found. Even though the world was almost nonexistent, the characters were able to paint a good enough picture of their world that I was still involved in the story.

This was a great read that I really enjoyed. 

my review will be live on my blog, Book Confessions on 8-6-21.
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Review to come.  Thanks to Stephanie Felty and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Publication Date August 3, 2021
TheGodstone #NetGalley
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I enjoyed this one. I found the story to be engaging and the narrative to be easy to follow and understand. I would recommend this to those new to the fantasy genre.

Thank you for the e-arc!
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Really good fantasy book in a very promising new series. Still young of course, but not much talk about and still it provides a very cool world and setting. There is good characters as well and a lot of room for them to grows. I'm curious to see what Malan will give us next. I recommend this book!
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