Theatre of the Gods by Matt Suddain – Advance Review [Bane of Kings]

Theatre of the Gods

Bane of Kings writes a review for Matt Suddain’s space-opera/steampunk novel, Theatre of the Gods, released on June 27 in the UK from Jonathan Cape Books. 

“A wonderful, weird tale that stands in contention with The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher for being one of the most fun reads of 2013. A delight to read.” ~The Founding Fields

It was a bit of a surprise when this book turned up for me in the mail to review, because I’d never heard of the author nor the book itself before. But, the cover looked pretty awesome and the concept had me sold – I mean, I’ve never read a bad steampunk book yet (even if I haven’t read a lot of them) and when you combine steampunk with space opera you have the perfect setting for an entertaining book, my only fear being that it wouldn’t deliver on the premise. But deliver it did, and I really enjoyed what Suddain managed to produce, with the spectacular Theatre of the Gods keeping the author under my radar for any future novels that are released from him.

Steampunk space opera? Damn right.
     The fight begins! The Armadas of the universe set sail for the next dimension! 

     Who will succeed? 

     M. Francisco Fabrigas — scientist, explorer, ‘dreamer’ (fool), and perhaps the greatest human of all ages (fool) — with his shipful of slave children and mysterious stowaways? 

     The Pope of the Universe and the dastardly Fleet of the Nine Churches? 

     Her Majesty Queen Habitas X? (Glory Be To Her, Our Queen, For She Will Live Forever!)

Or a sinister well-dressed mesmerist, who is telling you what to think even now?

All we can promise is this — 170,000 ships depart for the Interior, and not one of them, not a single one of them, will return.

The concept is the most intriguing thing about the novel as well, but the characters themselves are also quite interesting. However, one alarming element that scores a point for Theatre of the Gods – is that it’s unlike any novel that I’ve ever read before. Seriously. Original, fresh and fun – Theatre of the Gods blends the two genres that you’d think could never be connected, steampunk and space-opera, along the same lines of Joss Whedon blending Western and Space Opera together to create Firefly. You’d think you’d never see a day when these two genres were combined – but that day has come. And it couldn’t ask for a better writer at the helm than Matt Suddain, who writes as though this is his 5th book as opposed to his first.

Theatre of the GodsThe book itself is incredibly complex. The prose is strong and the writing captivating, allowing for a very fun read. The book itself is – if the message already isn’t told by now – unique, full of wild concepts, great characters, a different way of storytelling and above all – fun. Seriously. If I hadn’t have already read The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher I’d be labelling Theatre of the Gods as my most fun reads of the year, but I think at the moment they’re both tied. I just love the way Suddain has crafted this book, with illustrations included – if you’re looking for something different from your average fantasy novel, then  Matt Suddain is your go-to-guy. The writer is confidently impressing and manages to create a strong read with an excellent narrative style that some writers struggle to manage in their second or third go, let alone their first.

Universe exploration stories are always fun, and Theatre of the Gods is no different. Matt Suddain’s writing is compelling, the characters – particularly it’s lead, the explorer Francisco Fabrigas, are strong and the journey that the reader, as well as the character goes on – is an exploration indeed.  There aren’t moments where the storytelling feels clumsy or awkward, and the pacing structure manages to keep you going, and this bold début manages to deliver with great confidence. Certainly, if I make a list for most surprising novel of 2013, Theatre of the Gods will be up there for sure. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be this good.

The Characterization is strong, vivid – Francisco Fabrigas certainly feels like the most developed, and the dialogue is fun and it never feels unrealistic, allowing for the book to be strong in several aspects. The cover art is also spectacular as well – it was one of the things that sold me on this book. I mean, how often do you see a ship that is decidedly not your typical spaceship, floating through space? It certainly beats the traditional man-with-a-hood covers that seem to be a common staple in fantasy these days, and was also one of the things that had me sold on the book.

And therefore, in conclusion – there’s only one thing left to say. Upon the release of Theatre of the Gods, buy it, read it and enjoy it. Matt Suddain is an incredibly gifted author and I’m really looking forward to what he can throw at the reader next.

VERDICT: 4/5

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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