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Title: The Hammer of the Gods – So You Want To Be a Star (Book one of the Druid Trilogy)
Author: Andrew Marc Rowe
Publisher: Sophic Press
Original Release: May 19th, 2020
Full disclosure: like me, Andrew Marc Rowe is a Newfoundland & Labrador author of fantasy. Based on these common traits, we got the opportunity to meet through the local convention/market circuit. Andrew and I exchanged copies of our books, as I knew that if his books were even half as awesome as he is, they were sure to be fantastic reads.
Despite my appreciation for having met Andrew, this review is my own. Just so we have that out of the way.
Though I now have a stack of Andrew’s books, The Hammer of the Gods and the Druid Trilogy in general, definitely seemed (at least at the time of our book exchange) to be his pride and joy. Given that impression, I decided to embark on the Druid Trilogy first. With that said, let’s have a look at said part one: The Hammer of the Gods: So You Want to Be a Star.
A title like that might lead one to believe that the titular hammer is one of great power that could potentially lead to fame and fortune, right? Prepare to have that expectation marvellously subverted. Right out of the gate with the cover of the book (at least in the version I have), Andrew (literally) illustrates that said hammer might not be Mjolnir or a warhammer like one might find in the Elder Scrolls games, but a standard claw hammer seen in the hands of friendly, neighbourhood carpenters everywhere. It’s a brilliant touch from before even page one and it gives a delightful preview of what to expect within the 240 pages of the book.
Even having read Hammer of the Gods, though, I’m at a loss to describe what it is. In fact, you wouldn’t know it by reading this, but there was a two-day gap between the previous paragraph and this one. I just couldn’t find a way to describe Andrew’s work in a concise fashion that did justice to the fine read within its pages. I suppose to start I should say that it’s a comedy that’s not only unafraid to go blue; it streaks naked through fields of azure with carefree joy. That alone makes me admire what Andrew has done simply because of the lasting taboos about doing such. As an author myself, I’ve spent countless hours trying to walk the fine line of carefully counting the number of F-words and other profanities I drop in my fantasy series. In contrast to my doubts, Andrew completely eschews such banal concerns and dares the prudish and conservative amongst us to try to make him give a damn. I mean, after all, curse words and genitalia exist, and people use both every day. It can be argued that to self-censor such from material intended for adult audiences is a disservice to language and humanity in general. We are at our core colourful, expressive creatures, after all; and Andrew celebrates that human spirit in The Hammer of the Gods.
In saying all that, and speaking of disservices, I myself am guilty of spending that much time on his ode to humanities’ whimsically blue nature and not enough on the story itself. Said tale primarily centres on the feudal deities of old and the various scions and servants who are given to help or outright carry out said deities’ will. Our cast ranges from characters from the Nordic pantheon, the Arthurian legends, faeries, and even goblins. Oh, and the Christianity crowd get into it too. Did I mention there’s a sentient, talking tower? For what it’s worth and from a purely comedic standpoint, the tower remains near the top of my favourite amongst the bunch. I digress, though. All these aforementioned beings have come together in Hammer of the Gods for one gigantic power struggle that I am sure is going to be quite the ruckus before the dust settles. Beyond that, there’s little else I can say about the plot that won’t be considered spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that.
I particularly enjoyed reading this one, and I can’t think of a dry point across all 240 pages. His exposition is carefully crafted and he never shows more of his hand than need be at any point, and when he does, it never comes across as forced or overstaying its welcome. I thought it was marvellously done, all told.
So, if you’d like to see what would happen if you threw Thor, Loki, Merlyn, King Arthur, and a few handfuls of goblins, faeries, and a talking tower into a melting pot of chaos and comedy, you need The Hammer of the Gods in your life.