Cover Image: Sons of Darkness

Sons of Darkness

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and Leadstart for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Oddly enough I got this book after it was published through netgalley, weird but I'm not one to complain about free good books. To me, this book shined with its characters and how you saw the world through their eyes. Often times books with heavy worldbuilding and politics and beat you over the head with it, but Mohanty showed us these things through his characters instead of boring us with explanations. It was refreshing.

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What a phenomenal story. I cannot recommend this exciting beautiful book enough. I'll absolutely be looking out for Gourav Mohanty's future books. Go pick up a copy of Sons of Darkness asap.

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This was a richly crafted fantasy, drawing influence from GRRM's Game of Thrones and the Indian epic Mahabharata. It's not for the faint of heart, though I will advise TW: of gore, r*pe, etc.

It is wonderfully dark and gritty, a little slow in the beginning but it quickly picked up and the ending made it all worth it.

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Sons of Darkness… was an epic, that is for sure. It was long and complex and AMAZING!

This is a book you have to just jump in and TRUST, as it will take you (probably) several chapters before things start to click, and then several more chapters after that for those things to make sense. It's genius, and I am so glad I gave this usually 'not-my-type' book a chance… I knew after the authors note that this would be a gem.

For anyone wondering if Sons of Darkness is for you… it is if you like complex worlds, complex morally grey characters, conflicted characters, magic, and a story that takes it time for the big reveal, instead of an instant release.

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The child torture was a turn off but I powered through because the tone of this book reminded me a lot of empire of the vampire. I love mythology but I found this really hard to get into. I think if I had a better base for these gods then I would have been able to connect better. It is well written but I did not find it personally engaging so I can’t rate above a three.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC

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Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for this opportunity to read rate and review this arc which will be available January 9,2024!

This book was pure Indian magic, intrigue and epic high fantasy. It lagged at times but the depth of the story and the Indian folklore and culture was steeped so strongly that I did not mind. It transported me to a place I as a white woman had never been to and I wanted to stay. Dang near perfection. Highly highly recommend it

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The cover is what drew me in and I’m so glad it was as good as I was hoping for. The characters worked well in this world and in the story. It had a great fantasy element to it and worked with the characters perfectly.

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Gourav Mohanty's Sons of Darkness takes fantasy storytelling in a fresh direction. The author has mentioned drawing inspiration from well-known sources like the Mahabharata, Ramayan, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Malazan. Despite these influences, the book manages to establish its own voice. I didn’t know anything about the Mahabharata or Ramayan when starting this novel, but I don’t feel like that took away from the reading experience.

The story is told from various viewpoints, adding depth to the narrative. However, I must warn you that keeping track of all the characters can be a bit tricky and was one aspect of the novel I struggled with. The gradual introduction of two characters at a time, given the extensive cast, was a clever approach. Though challenging for me to follow at times, Mohanty skillfully weaves together the different storylines, which satisfyingly converge by the end.

Sons of Darkness offers a fresh take on fantasy. While it starts slowly, it concludes with a bang and lays the groundwork for the next book. The blending of Yoga-based magic, multiple perspectives, and intriguing characters like Satyabhama makes for an exceptional story. I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with mythical elements, just be prepared to keep track of a plethora of characters along the way.

4 / 5 stars

My sincerest gratitude to Netgalley, Gourav Mohanty, and Head of Zeus for the ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

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CW: gore, violence, rape during war/marital rape, casteism

When I first saw the cover reveal of this book last year, the immediate feeling was that I was upset I didn’t know a Mahabharata inspired fantasy novel was coming out soon, that too by a mainland Indian author. And the second feeling was how interesting the idea sounds and how cool the cover was. To have it picked up by an international publisher felt like a dream, and I was very very excited that I got an advance copy and I’m so happy that this turned out to live upto my expectations.

First things first, the comp title of this book is Game of Thrones and the author also is definitely writing in a dark/grimdark fantasy space which is something I’m not quite familiar with. It usually isn’t to my taste but I wasn’t gonna let that stop me from reading this book. And it definitely took me a while to get used to the huge cast of characters, the immense brutality and violence, the epic scope of the world, and the liberal use of the word “whore” which I’m still not a fan of. But despite the expansive nature of this story, I didn’t feel confused because it’s still familiar ground and I enjoyed making comparisons with what I know of the original epic. The pacing might feel like it’s slow and there’s conversations happening which you are not sure where they’ll lead to, but situations evolve very quickly and things accelerate from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye. There were many things I never saw coming and I enjoyed this unpredictable nature of the story. The magic system is alluded to and we only see little glimpses of it but that seemed like a lot of fun (almost reminded me of the talismans that Wei Wuxian writes in the air in the MDZS adaptations), and I can only hope we’ll have more magic in the sequel. The way the author kept a little essence of the original characters from the Mahabharata here but also drastically changed their personalities is also something I found very fascinating and I’m interested to see how much more troubles they are all gonna encounter in the future.

I do read adult fantasy a lot these days but I’ve truly not encountered a book with so many POVs in a long while. I think I lost count of how many we have here. But naturally I gravitated towards Krishna instantly. He is a strategic kingmaker who has already thought through many many moves ahead of his opponents and is fairly confident of achieving his goals. But sometimes this surety of his becomes his bane because he has overlooked some very unexpected scenarios and unpredictable people. I really liked him even though he could be a bit too callous and calculated to get his way, but that didn’t really stop me from wanting to know more of his story. He is perfectly complemented by Satyabhama who is a warrior and can be slightly impulsive, but is also strong and brave and compassionate enough to save many young girls in unfortunate circumstances. The only thing I didn’t like was probably that Satya exudes the “not like other girls” vibe a lot which I’m not that much of a fan of. Nevertheless, she is admirable and mostly her straightforwardness is out of place in this world full of cunning masters.

I think the author took the original Shakuni and dialed it up a 100, so his character here is fascinating because you think you know what he wants but you are never sure whom he will sacrifice at the altar of his desires. We don’t get any Pandava or Kaurava POVs and I think that was a very cool choice because we only get hints about the kind of people they are and it’ll be exciting to see where their stories will go next. It’s Karna whom we get to follow in detail and he was everything I expected him to be. He is a warrior at heart and is resolved not to live within the confines of caste and society, rise up based on his own virtues and skills and hopefully destroy the discriminatory caste system on the way. But he can also be naive and too trusting because he is honest in his dealings and can’t see other’s cunning plans. I find that it’ll be difficult to survive in this world for him and only see more dreadful days ahead.

On the other side, we have characters like Mati and Shishupal and more who are pretty insignificant in the original epic but are formidable in their own ways here. Mati is a pirate princess and a force to reckon with, who has plans of her own and won’t let any man undermine her. Shishupal on the other hand wants to be far away from all the fighting because he is disgusted by the violence but unfortunately finds himself in the middle of the melee. I think he was the only person I found to be reasonable in the whole cast of characters and that was a fun surprise. Ekalavya’s glee for anything violent and Kalyavan’s naivete combined with his invincibility in war were also other interesting but not always comfortable aspects of the story. There are many other characters who also left an impression on me, especially Satya’s girls who seem like strong fighters but ultimately are just young girls who have no choice and find some strength in their sisterhood; and Draupadi who is unsure of her place in this world because it’s always others making choices for her and never anything that she truly wants.

In the end, I can only say I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this book but I definitely liked whatever has happened so far. I also bought the audiobook and thought that the narrator Homer did a spectacular job bringing this story to life. This debut will surely impress readers of the grimdark fantasy genre, and I’m sure the lifelong Mahabharata lovers like me will also find this inspired tale fascinating, if a lot more morally grey than the original. The impressive world building, the huge cast of characters who are both familiar and different, and the hint of magic that’s coming next, along with some prophecies of doom and oracles and other worldly beings all made for a very exciting (albeit a bit huge) story and I’m so looking forward to see where it goes next.

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First I have to say, I am obsessed with this cover.

This is an Indian epic fantasy. I have never read Game of Thrones but I have watched the tv show and this game me GoT vibes - political, dark, many povs and a lot of different moving parts. You can tell this was really inspired by Indian mythology as well.

As with most epic fantasies, there was a lot going on. Many many characters and places, it took me a while to get everything straight especially with the longer names. I’m not sure if there was just too much going on or if I wasn’t in the right head space for such an epic story but I found it hard to care for any of the characters just because there were way too many of them - it was hard to tell who were supposed to be the main characters. I loved how strong the female characters were throughout this story, there was no question that they were just as strong and capable, if not more so, than the male characters which was refreshing.

This was dark but honestly it wasn’t as dark as I was expecting it to be (not necessarily a bad thing). There were some great battle scenes. I also found the writing/characters to be funny (sarcastic?) at times which made it easier to get through such a dense book. But I did feel like the writing could have been simpler/easier to understand. This was slower paced, especially in the beginning, but this is the first book in an epic fantasy series so that is kind of to be expected even though I found it hard to get through at times.

Overall, if you like epic stories, world building, politics, LOTS of characters, mythology, I would give this a shot!

***Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC. All opinions are my own***

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holy shit.

if you like a song of ice and fire but wished it was more diverse and less misogynist, this is the book for you.

"sons of darkness" is a grimdark fantasy novel and retelling of the mahabharata and ramayana. in undergrad, i took a religious studies class on hinduism and i read the ramayana. i am very familiar with the characters, the hindu gods and goddesses, and the story itself. naturally, when i saw this title on netgalley, i knew i had to read it.

i have been looking for a dark, bloody, gritty fantasy novel obsessively ever since i finished a song of ice and fire. this book scratched that itch and more — it is fucking phenomenal.

mohanty may say he's just a lawyer, but i guarantee he is the new face of fantasy. he has a bright future in the literary industry! i am seriously so, so thankful to have been able to read this novel.

the focus is not on one central "hero," but expands to having many characters, of many nations, of many different castes, who have diverse ethics and political beliefs. krishna is not the main focus, he is only part of the vast epic story.

what i love the most about this novel is the voice it gives to powerful women. the women are just as powerful as the men, if not more so. the fight scenes are brutal, brilliantly written, and gripping. i read this novel in two sittings on the same day (if i had not had plans, i would have read it in one sitting!) it's just that good. i couldn't put it down.

this is the future of grimdark fantasy.

thank you so much to netgalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review. and thank you to gourav mohanty for writing such a deep, insightful, and brilliant novel. thank you, thank you, thank you.

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A very memorable take on politics and power struggles in royal court. The characters are all very vivid and larger than life. The world in this book is huge and detailed. Love the world-building. An outstanding read.

Thanks to the publisher for the arc.

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Best debut fantasy novel in a long time!! Seriously what a debut! great world, amazing story, nice prose, definitely a must-read for fantasy fans!!

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