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Collection of the popular Newshounds comic strip by TK Dye.
The fourth art book from the furry artist Vasuki Stoat
Adult comic by artdecade.
Refreshing, compelling, queer, Afrocentric fantasy
This book was recommended to me by many people, including one of the previous reviewers here, and I need to lead with my regret at not having followed their advice earlier. Ultimately, I ended up reading this as part of a furry book club group, after it was recommended *yet again*, and… yeah. This is hands-down one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read—not *furry* fantasy novel, mind you, just in the scope of *all* fantasy novels. It's good enough in terms of its complexity of character, theme, and prose style that I briefly considered trying to find a place for it in my high school literature course—that ultimately wouldn’t work, because the book has some sex scenes in it that are *just* graphic enough that it would not fly at that age level (at least, not as a school-assigned book), but it is nevertheless one of the most complete and complex novels of this type I’ve ever experienced.
In short, this is a multi-perspective novel about a world somewhat analogous to continental Africa (e.g., the Sahara, Congo, West coast, etc.) in which humans’ strong beliefs about the gods their nation worships put them in contact and conflict with those gods. And, well, the gods’ strong beliefs about humans do the same. It’s hard to give more than that without spoiling so much of the charm, joy, sorrow, and horror of the novel—Campbell so effectively draws the reader into the wildly varied worldviews and perspectives of the characters *and* seamlessly transitions between them that I cannot really do the book justice except to, as everyone else told me, recommend that you just read it.
However, one thing that is remarkable about it (besides that it features primarily characters of color, strong and complex female characters, queer relationships, and gorgeous paralleling of disparate narratives) is that it expertly avoids most of the problems of major fantasy epics—the meandering, tiresome description of setting and the world-building-first-character-development-later exposition. That isn’t to say that this book isn’t descriptive—it is *in love* with its own setting—but rather that Campbell perfectly balances vivid prose about the complexities of the natural world with compelling dialogue, riveting action sequences, and tension-building interiority. There is a passage about death partway through the book that is one of the single best pages of writing I’ve ever read. And I teach literature every day.
The only stronger recommendation I could give for God of Clay is that the two sequels are *just as good*. If you care about character-driven, harrowing, uplifting fantasy that knows exactly what it is, what it’s doing, where it’s going, and how to make you laugh and cry at the same time, this is it.
An excellent novel
God of Clay hooked me and led me to read the entire trilogy. It was so refreshing to read a book that is both incredibly well-written and takes place in a part of the world that is often ignored in Western literature. Characters are developed so well and with amazing pacing. I never felt like any character was purely good or evil but instead you get to know them well enough you can nearly understand how their minds work. The chemistry between the characters is convincing and effective. Campbell’s use of imagery and metaphor is some of the best I’ve seen. Read this! And then the other two!
An Unforgettable Jouney
There is something about "God of Clay", and really the whole "Fire Bearers" series, that no other author or story has been able to capture yet. Instantly, you begin to empathize with characters you've never met and fear for their lives as they travel through the savanna and forest, facing off with gods and each other.
Campbell's writing is gorgeous. No doubt in anyone's mind. He is able to describe the environment around each character as if he is sitting right next to them and pulls you along the whole way. At parts, the story reads more like a poem rather than a novel. Pick up this book, and be prepared to never put it down until you finish it.
George Square's Review
When I finished God of Clay, I described the experience as "satiating something I was hungry for." And usually when I read genre fiction, I have to take bits and pieces of things I want from the books I read and make compromises. "Well, this book had gay protagonists at least, even if the conflict didn't let you forget that, and the characters paid for it." Or "this book has people of color as opposed to the assumption of a main character's innate whiteness, but it is overshadowed by western mores and still exhibits egregious exoticism." Or "well, there's a woman over 40 who plays a significant role, but she's more or less window dressing."
God of Clay, on the other hand, was a buffet of the things I was hungry for: colorful sensory splendor; smart character decisions the fueled further conflict; a non-white cast of main characters; gay protagonists with sexuality not intrinsically tied to the main conflict; a world where you can still be older than 40 and be a woman and make life changing decisions for yourself and your tribe.
Clay's village is a living, breathing unit where the actions of every person matters. The gods feel like gods as opposed to humans with special powers-- they sense the world differently, are subjected to different limitations outside of their realms, and their jealousy is distilled horror. You can feel the age and the hardness in their cruelty, and Doto's personal transformation chills us to the core and reminds us how lucky we are to feel, and to understand feeling.
It's rare enough to see fantasy epics that are not set in a reductive interpretation of Medieval Europe, but the book achieves what it sets out to do and more by utilizing the underused setting of Africa and immersing us in not just the rituals or the opulence but also day-to-day chores and ablution. The personalities of these characters shine bright, like a massive bonfire. You will see how evil spawns from endless justification. You will feel the weight of difficult decisions cast. You will laugh at a child-like God.
You will also never look at your food the same way again after you cook it on the stove.
God of Clay shows how furry writing is maturing, is slowly establishing itself as a meta-theme or subgenre that started from the same humble beginnings as Sci-fi. It is the first book of Ryan Campbell's trilogy of the Fire-Bearers, and it is a must read.
One of the greatest books I have ever read!
An absolutely incredible novel! Mr Campbell has created an amazing world with fully realized characters and settings that pull you in and stick with you long after the book is over.
In a world where gods exist and are just as flawed as the humans who worship them, the story follows three distinct main characters. Doto, a young godling who is the son of the great forest god Kwaee, Clay, a human who is extremely devoted to the gods, and Laughing Dog, Clay's younger brother who does not believe in the gods and the stories told of them. During the story, we see each of them adapt, grow, and come into their own and it is incredibly satisfying to do so.
Mr.Campbell's prose is smooth and has a natural flow. His attention to detail is impeccable and because of this, it is easy to imagine what is happening as you are reading, although there are several interior illustrations representing key points in the story. His characters feel real and relatable . All have clear motivations and these motivations influence the actions that they take.
Honestly, I could spend all day singing this book's praises but there is no need. If you have even the slightest interest in the Fantasy genre or if you are just looking for a good book to read, get this book now! As can be seen on the cover, this is the first book in a series (a planned trilogy). I await the next book with fervor!
Cristian A Segura
Novella by Ryan Campbell
Part 2 of the Fire Bearers trilogy by Ryan Campbell
Part 3 of the Fire Bearers trilogy by Ryan Campbell