Scar is a complete mystery to everyone, including himself. He has no past that he can recall. He only knows that he woke up being attacked by a roving band of Dracs, hopelessly outnumbered, yet somehow managed to hack through all of them. His fighting prowess is amazing, and he has the ability to heal in moments anything but mortal wounds.
He finds himself a mercenary in the employ of Zoltek, leader of the Usaj, who has promised to request his god Zmaj reveal Scar's past, and restore his memory. Double-crossed by Zoltek and left for dead, Scar finds himself catapulted into an epic struggle for truth between Dragons posing as gods and the gods they are replacing.
Wielding his gargantuan two-handed sword with its odd diamond-shaped holes, he carves a path through everyone blocking him from uncovering the truth about his past, his future, and the gods and dragons the people serve.
Gods and Dragons is an obviously large epic fantasy series launch, on the scale of The Wheel of Time. The world building is amazing, and there are more people groups, religions, magical 'blessings' and countries than you could possibly remember. The action in places is gripping, and the characters, especially Scar and Labolas, are well-defined and real. Scar reminds me of Conan, but with more brain. His hack-and-slay mentality however, has him rushing into any confrontation, confident in his ability to mow down the opposition faster than Link can cut the grass.
PG-13 - In several places people are cut through, decapitated, or cleaved in two. There is a torture scene that is described, though not in great detail. The level of graphic violence is not greater than you would find in LOTR, so I left this at PG-13.
PG - The F-bomb isn't found, the D-word is found 25 times.
Drinking occurs to excess in a few places, and visits to inns with ale on tap is a sporadic occurrence. In one place a roller-derby queen woman challenges Scar to a drinking contest, if she wins she has him for the night.
R - There is one sex scene in the book, it's not graphic but goes into enough detail to edge the rating. As mentioned above, there is other adult content, none of it to that level.
The main thrust of the book is a struggle to prove that the gods each people group are worshipping, the ones that are giving them their characteristic 'blessings', are actually dragons. The real gods, the ones the paladins serve, are trying to gain their people back and expose the truth about the dragons. There is no biblical truth, no Christian content. However, it does drive home that an undesired truth is better than a well-established lie, and that if you speak the truth, you will receive persecution. There are many devout in their faith, whether following gods or dragons, and some that convert after learning the truth.
This is a solid offering as a pilot to an epic fantasy series, the world building was extraordinary, the characters believable, and the action gripping, when it was there. The biggest issue I had with it was pacing, as there were places where action, intrigue, and plot happened, and this reader couldn't put the book down. But they were separated by portions of slow action that could have been cut. I found myself paging forward to get to the good parts, sometimes, which isn't my usual thing. I do look forward to future offerings in this series, as it was worth reading, and hopefully the following novels will only improve. Four Stars.
(review of free book)