Gods of the Mountain (Cycle of Blades #1) ★☆☆☆½

godsofthemountain (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Gods of the Mountain
Series: Cycle of Blades #1
Author: Christopher Keene
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 307
Format: Digital Edition

Background Info:

The author of this indie book convinced me to review it with a rather humorous comment on my “Review Policy” page. Asking for a bad review, that I can handle. He seemed like a nice enough guy when we emailed, so I thought “Sure, why not take a chance.” And if you read the reviews over on GR, it DOES sound like a bunch of paid shills. And he has a BA in English Lit (I believe), so it couldn’t be THAT bad, right?

First hiccup was him emailing me a second version. This was supposedly released in 2017, so I was expecting a finished product. When an author keeps tweaking a book, well, that doesn’t bode well in my eyes.

Second hiccup was him letting me know, in Mid-April, that it was going into audio production and had I had a chance to “look it over” yet . I only got the book in the beginning of March and needed to work it into my rotation.

So, legal schmegal crap: The author gave me a copy of this book for an honest review and boy howdy, is that what he’s going to get. Remember, he ASKED for this.


The Kingdom of Tyrania was conquered by the Kingdom of Aavaria because the Aavarians wanted control of the only supply of a special kind of wood that could be turned into swords that would suck the life out of anyone receiving even a small wound.

Faulk watched as his Commander died in a duel to the Aavarian General and as his homeland fell. Now, 3 years later, he’s a mercenary for hire, drowning his despair with drink. He meets up with a former fellow soldier who specialized in assassination. This Kessler shows Faulk some magic that only a specific tribe in the mountains are supposed to be able to use. This tribe, the Lunarians, are dedicated to pacifism. Kessler was taught by an exiled Lunarian and he begins passing on his knowledge.

3 Lunarians are sent to Tyrania to stop outsiders from using the symbol magic. This will involve taking one of the users before the Lunarian’s gods and those gods severing all connections which will stop that user and all users associated with the initial user.

Faulk goes with them to ostensibly learn more magic, as he’s unaware of the gods true purpose. He ends up being stripped by the gods and then someone reconnecting back to the magic using another form.

While this is happening to Faulk, the Lunarian Exile has set in motion a chain of events that leads to his ascension as Ruler of Tyrania. He makes one of the magic trees grow using all of the stolen life force from the magic blades.

The book ends with Faulk and his Lunarian girlfriend, along with her ex, heading out to explore Aavaria and the Lunarian Exile planning on worldwide conquest.

My Thoughts:

First off, the writing. In my recent “Quote” post, I posted just a tiny bit of the book. There were a handful of instances of like awkwardness that had me guessing just what the author meant. I’m not talking about story plots, but plain old grammar use. You can find Editors who will look for and show you how to fix those type of things. Sure, they cost money, but do you want your book to be good? I talked to someone I know, who also has a BA in English Lit, and she said the instances I showed her were what she experiences when reading chinese novels translated by highschool students.Dinged off a ½ star for those instances.

Second, the magic system. The way it was really introduced had me going “That’s a Brandon Sanderson Mistborn knockoff!” Pushing and pulling against magic swords and daggers to move objects or yourself? Vin!checkbox

Thankfully, it does go on to be a “little” more original, but the way it was introduced really wasn’t handled well. Problem is, later things get messy again when Faulk gets cut off from the magic but “magically” is able to reconnect using some other way. Terms are thrown around but it made no sense to me. This happened near the end of the book though so I was pretty much past caring if I had missed something. Ding. There goes another ½ star.

The characters. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be rooting for anyone, or just against the Aavarian overlords and then the Exiled Lunarian. Faulk was this uber-sceptic with the philosophy of a 2nd grader. The love interest, Yuweh, was this magical powerhouse but then would turn around and be this incredibly naive and simple “girl”. Purposeful or not, I didn’t like either of them. At the end, there is this semi-sex scene between them. Up to that point Keene had kept things clean. But they are at a pool bathing together and he describes their foreplay like an awkward 14 year old and then ends with something like “and they laid down and made love”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t WANT to read erotica, or even semi-graphic sex scenes. But it offends my completist sensibilities that you’d clumsily yet graphically describe their foreplay but not the actual act? Considering that nothing like this is described earlier, its obviously put in to titillate the reader. But the only people going to be titillated by such amateur descriptions are 14 year old boys. The rest of us are just going to roll our eyes. Ding, another ½ star.

There is a bunch of other stuff too, but really, isn’t that enough? I’m not getting paid as an Editor here.

So lets do the math, because nothing is sexier than a man in suspenders and a flannel shirt doing “math”.

3 Stars is my starting point.

Add 1 for getting me to read the book in the first place.

Subtract ½ for mucking around it with it AFTER it is already published.

Subtract ½ for acting like an anxious man whose wife is pregnant with their first child.

Subtract ½ for Awkwardness.

Subtract ½ for the magic system and Sandersonitis.

Subtract ½ for the terrible and just plain embarrassing foreplay scene.

The grand total should be…..* calculator noises *

0.5!!!! Oh wait, no. Hold on. Carry the five, divide the 2, add the 1/2’s. Dang this “new math”.

1.5 STARS FOR THE WIN!!! (Where is Vanna when you really need her?)

All kidding aside, this wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, not even close. But it was barely adequate with enough issues that I certainly won’t be reading any more by Keene. Between this and Algorithm of Power, I have also reaffirmed my decision about indies in general.


bookstooge (Custom)

42 thoughts on “Gods of the Mountain (Cycle of Blades #1) ★☆☆☆½

  1. Yes, this is exactly what I asked for, thank you!
    For accuracy’s sake, I’m not an indie, all of my books are traditionally published. I haven’t paid a cent for my books, but I’m starting to wish I had for this one. I’ll be the first to say that Solstice’s subtantive editor left much to be desired and this will be the only book I publish with them. However, I did get the audiobook rights back off them, which is why I altered things after publication and why I’ll be sure to fix these things before it begins production. Reviews like this shows how even “well reviewed” books can be improved for later adaptations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I didn’t want to go straight on snark, as his initial comment in my review guidelines was just too good. So humor was definitely the way that worked the best.

      That won’t be the case in most other reviews of like quality books 🙂


  2. I’ve also had some bad indie reads lately, but have you had some good ones as well?

    I think Shepherd’s Spiral Wars series is indie? We’ve both enjoyed that.

    This morning, I started Galaxy’s Edge by Anspach and Cole, and although I’m only one scene in, I’m optimistic so far. Of course, one or both of them are former tradpub authors who’ve gone indie.

    I have a couple other indie series I’ve enjoyed recently, which I need to get around to posting about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had “just” enough good ones to keep me trying.
      Shepherd is walking the tight rope at the moment. His other series didn’t work for me and Spiral Wars had better shape up. It’s going full on boring bloat.

      I find that I prefer indies who used to be tradpubs, or who do a combination of the both.

      A guy I follow, Per G Jonsson, reads a lot of indies and I’ll be trying some of the stuff he recommends.

      I’d definitely be interested in a review of indies by you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha, first of all, cheers to the author for being a great sport, I loved the story about the exchange that led to this review. “Remember, he ASKED for this”, LOL! Also, great delivery of the full Bookstooge treatment and the classic star breakdown.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yeah, getting to beat up on a book and be amicable with the writer is a good thing 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed it overall. Sometimes a bodyblow is the right move and other times, a humorous punch to the jaw. While I’m always confidant of which is right for the time, it can be hard to predict which way my faithful followers are thinking is the right way 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really liked the idea of a special kind of wood being made into swords that suck life force if a wound is taken. A shame the rest of the book left so much to be wanting. But from the author’s post it seems he wanted to prove a point to his previous (I hope previous) publisher. Hopefully you helped do that.


    I’m totally going to review and do math in a flannel shirt from now on. I only wish I had suspender to go with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bookstooge-R-Us sells premium suspenders at a fraction of the retail cost! Make us your one stop suspender shop.

      Yeah, some good ideas that needed polishing and just some more real world writing experience. I’d try him again in 5-10 years to see how/if he’s developed.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Maybe this is not one of my best days, and my only surviving neuron went away on vacation without telling me, but I was unable to make much sense of that story. Then I became enmeshed in your star-rating calculation parameters and my head started spinning… HELP! 😀
    Not my best day indeed….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eh, it’s not you really. I just re-read the synopsis. It’s pretty disjointed. But it adequately sums up the book. So take from that what you will 🙂

      As for the star calcs, I LIKE math, so if I can make it complicated, I will 😀 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, grammar errors are a huge no-no for me. It’s like driving a car without knowing the rules of the road. Its only once you have complete mastery that you know when you can break the rules (like when you can speed safely, or not).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d still like to know what grammatical errors are being referenced here. Besides the “being turned on” one, which can mean being attacked, I really can’t find any.


          1. No other beta readers have mentioned this, nor my editors. You’re the only one making the claim. I don’t mind humor as long as it’s grounded in facts. Calling me an indie when my publisher was on the very first page could be a mistake, sure, but the fact that you can’t give any examples of a legitimate error is a bit more telling.


            1. And this is why I’m always hesitant to review upon request.

              Suddenly the author thinks I was supposed to give them a blow by blow of everything that was wrong with their book.

              I’ve let a lot of your “give me answers and detailed justification” comments alone.

              Don’t comment again. This is your only and final warning.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Yikes… When an author comes to me asking for a negative review, I’d question the intentions.. I don’t think I’d have the mindset to read something I know I won’t enjoy and that even the author thinks I won’t. Loved the math though. You make it sound super simple. Well.. It was, wasn’t it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, that was the thing. I figured there was a chance I WOULD enjoy this and that the author wouldn’t turn into a douche at a bad review if I didn’t.

      Yep, no more requests, period 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Phew, scathing. I listened to this on audible recently and found this post when looking for reviews on it. I mean, it could have just been the narrator’s reading of it, but I found it enjoyable. It’s a shame about the author though. I’ve been reading a slew of fantasy books lately, Mistborn included, but I don’t recall any magic swords or daggers Vin pushed off, after all, she uses obsidian/glass knives so that other Allomancers couldn’t push them. Can you jog my memory on that?


      1. For anyone reading these comments, it turns out “Hayley” was some sort of shill for the author. “She” ended up trying to post some links that showed nothing but positive reviews.

        We’ll have to see what happens now.


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