Fantasy Book Review: The God is Not Willing by Steven Erikson

Fantasy Book Review

The God is Not Willing
Author: Steven Erikson
Publication Date: Nov 16th 2021
Publisher: Tor Books
Genres: Epic Fantasy

The fact that it's taken me more than 4 months to finish this, the shortest and, I'd argue, most straightforward, most accessible Malzan novel to date, should tell you all you need to know about The God is Not Willing

As much as I love Steven Erikson's flair for witty banter, this felt like all talk, no show. There was just so much dialogue, pages and pages of it, with hardly a dialogue tag to be seen, and far too often it's just self-indulgent nonsense. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a little nonsense - The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach are full of it, and I love them - but here it's taken to distraction and beyond. I found myself skimming past quotation marks, desperately searching for a thread of plot, on far too many occasions.

What's so frustrating is that all started off so well. I was amused by and curious about the new Bridgeburners, who are as crazy a lot as Erikson has ever written, but they're given no depth or personality beyond the craziness. I couldn't tell you most of them were from one chapter to another, and (to be honest) I didn't care to try and remember. I was, however, fascinated by Rant's tale, by the whole story of the Teblor, the breaking of Omtose Phellack, and the coming flood that's pushing a world of change before it. I really think there was an opportunity to do something new here, to let the legendary heroes rest and tell a proper sequel of who and what came next, but the book wastes too much time trying to craft Bridgeburners: The Next Generation,

Looking back, I struggled greatly to find my way into Gardens of the Moon, but that's only because it was so big and so bewildering, dropping the reader in media res and leaving us to figure things out. It took me 3 tries, but I wanted to break through, I wanted to wrap my head around it all, and I'm so glad that I did. Here, I struggled to keep going, to find a reason to pick up The God is Not Willing again, after longer and longer pauses, because I just didn't care. It feels like a superficial Malazan story, one that Erikson felt pressured to write because of flagging sales, not one he had any great passion for. 

All that said, the book is averaging 4.67 on Goodreads and 4.8 on Amazon, so it seems I'm in the minority with my dissatisfaction . . . although I swear those ratings have to be fueled more by nostalgia for what came before and hope for what comes next that what's actually in the book.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.