cover image The God Is Not Willing: The First Tale of Witness

The God Is Not Willing: The First Tale of Witness

Steven Erikson. Tor, $27.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2359-0

Erikson burnishes his reputation as a superior epic fantasy world-builder in this trilogy debut, a spin-off of his Malazan Book of the Fallen series, that makes it easy for newcomers to invest, despite the large cast of characters and weighty backstory. Catastrophic climate change that means the end of winter for the Malazan world threatens to flood the lands of the south. That region’s peoples also face a military threat in the form of an army of raiders led by Elade Tharos, who commands a force of clans united by his promise of revenge upon the southerners who took their members as slaves and seized their lands. Myriad subplots wend throughout, notably including a character’s struggles with addiction, something rarely explored in this genre. Erikson’s outstanding descriptive skills (a graveyard is depicted as “a strange mixture of beehive tombs and mounded urn-pits along with mostly sunken, tilted platforms, hinting at more than one ancient, long-forgotten practice by equally forgotten peoples”) enhance a complicated narrative that sweats the details. This is a treat both for Erikson’s returning readers and lovers of George R.R. Martin–style epic fantasy who have yet to discover his work. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Nov.)