Publishing today's review is a double pleasure for me. First, because the great Antonio Díaz is once more sharing his insights with us. Second, because the amazing Leticia Lara, from Fantástica Ficción, is featuring simultaneously a review of the same novella. Hope you enjoy it!
Review Soundtrack: Antonio suggests reading this review while listening to Song of Forgiveness, by Saint of Sin (Spotify, YouTube).
Downfall of the Gods is a novella from fantasy master K. J. Parker. The short format is a medium where the writer swims with ease. In this novella, Parker tells the story of a goddess that visits a believer who committed a very grave sin and wants absolution for it. The real plot trigger is the goddess’s refusal to absolve the faithful man of this sin, therefore going against the celestial laws. The text's central piece is then the exploration of the consequences of this whimsical decision.
This story strongly evokes 'The Things We Do For Love', another one of Parker's novellas, with love and power as a central theme. In both novellas the wise man Saloninus is mentioned so they probably take place in the same world (despite this being the only link between them). The central theme to Downfall of the Gods is the nature of the divine essence and the consequences of absolute power.
However, the book's most appealing ingredient is its vibrant sense of humour. The novella has a first person narrator, the goddess, and a general light-hearted tone. The explanation the narrator gives regarding her powers' origin and the divine pantheon which she belongs to are very insightful. The dialogue between the believer and the goddess is hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud while alone. Both central characters are perfectly defined and Parker really brings out a credible goddess.
The plot is rather simple but that is not important. What matters are the characters' insights regarding what is happening to them over the events themselves. The same can be said about the world-building, which is drawn roughly in broad strokes without too much attention to detail. But, again, that is not something that the reader would miss in such a short read. It is a story that pushes you constantly forward.
Overall, the experience is excellent and one can read the whole novella easily in one go. I would definitely recommend this outstanding book to any lover of satire and clever dialogue. If you have read Parker before, you already know what you are in for and if you haven't, then this could be a great place to start.