BOOK REVIEW: Paternus

Paternus by Dyrk Ashton

I skimmed my way to the end of this book to see if there was something in this story that would save it for me, and it’s never a good thing when I find myself skimming. It means I’ve become disinterested in the story, and that’s exactly what happened in Paternus. The parts with Fi and Zeke were at least interesting, but I ended up not caring about much of anything else in this story. That surprised me because the premise is great with the Firstborn and the old gods coming back. It’s not a terribly original premise, but if it’s done well, it’s one that I enjoy reading. As a mythology nut, I really like to see authors and stories that put their own twist on old myths. Paternus lacks no ambition in reinventing myths, and it’s the main draw of the story, but for all its pretense at originality, Paternus lacked substance in its world building. The big twists are obvious and the story takes way too long to get to the obvious points, and there’s very little emotional reason for wanting to reach those twists, which is the main problem of the story for me. Simple plots are great when the story provides something else unique (characters usually and voice always) to draw me towards the conclusion. That never really materialized in Paternus like I thought it would. All of the characters are pretty dry, honestly, and this story probably suffered from being too ambitious with its world building and maybe not ambitious enough with it. I kind of connected with both Fi and Zeke and got their characters, and I found myself skipping other parts of the book just to read their chapters, and as the story went on, it became more and more about them, so it’s worth finishing to keep up with their arcs. That said, these were some of the driest and least authentic characters (especially the side characters) I’ve encountered in fantasy, and it probably has a lot to do with the writing style. There’s a lot going on in Paternus, and some of it is good, but a lot of it is…well, dry. Boring. Everyone says a lot but no one does a lot, and even when they do things, it’s all For The Plot. So much failed to feel authentic, and when the story got better towards the end I unfortunately didn’t care enough and wasn’t invested in it by those parts. All the parts with the Firstborn were a huge let down for me. It’s a lot of ‘and this god is like this and this god does this’ and it’s so much talking and so very little story telling.

Rating: 2 stars for cool ideas but too many ‘meh’ characters.

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