Series: Gunmetal Gods #1
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Book Length: 475 pages
Author: Zamil Akhtar
Zamil on X: @zamakhtar
Author Site:
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads


Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights in this blood-soaked fantasy epic inspired by the Crusades, featuring Lovecraftian gods, mischievous djinns, and astral magic!

They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom.
 Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers.

Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry.

To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing.

When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars.


Continuing with my recent theme of reviewing books that I read so long ago that many of the fine details have left me, today I'll share what's stuck with me from Zamil Akhtar's debut, Gunmetal Gods. And what a fine debut it is – I enjoyed it enough to put in a pledge for the beautiful Ultimate Edition that Zamil funded via Kickstarter.

The definitive illustrated Collector's Edition of the hit, dark epic fantasy novel 'Gunmetal Gods'.
So glad to see Zamil shattered his fundraising goal with this one!

Right from the start, I could tell I was going to like Gunmetal Gods. Zamil Akhtar has a clear, punchy style of prose and knows how to introduce his characters. We start out in the perspective of Kevah, a famed Sirmian warrior who is reluctantly forced back into action with a summons from his Shah. He just wants to hang out in the countryside with his daughter and smoke cherry-flavored hookah, but instead he's sent on what he knows will be a suicide mission. Unfortunately, he can't refuse his Shah's "request", especially not when he's being ordered to go kill a magus, the very thing he's famous for (though he doesn't feel it's a reputation he's earned). Suffice to say, I was rooting for Kevah from chapter one.

Then we switch to the perspective of Micah the Metal. Badass name though he may possess, this Crucian warlord is introduced as a total religious zealot, eager to embark on a crusade and fight a holy war to get his daughter back. By the end of chapter two, he's already committed at least one atrocity, to my recollection. Okay, I thought, we've got our good guy and our bad guy. Can't wait to see how their tales come together!

Except, folks, this is grimdark fantasy. You should know by now, in this genre there are no good guys and bad guys. These two are destined to clash repeatedly in the conflict between Sirm and Crucis, each time digging deeper and deeper into the pit of moral depravities they're willing to commit in order to win the war. By the end of the story, I was thoroughly enjoying myself, but I can't say I was really rooting for any one side. And I think that's the point.

One of the major themes is that humans are just puppets for these Lovecraftian gods fighting a war for the entire cosmos. They certainly aren't concerned with pitiful human morality. To the extent they notice it at all, it's only to use it to manipulate their human pawns more effectively – one even ensures their chosen champion endures through specifically the most morally despicable act they can conceive of. Otherwise, they're not worthy. (Apologies if this isn't quite right – like I said, it's been a while, so I forget some of the details, plus I'm trying to be vague enough not to spoil anything.)

Good lord, this book is twisted... but I kind of love that? I don't know what this says about me. It's just fascinating watching the kind of downward spiral Zamil has crafted. There were moments in the middle of the book that were pretty weird, let's say, and I questioned why I was reading this. But it all came together beautifully in the final act and wiped away any questions I had as to whether I should continue the series.

My only minor issue with the book was that the plot was sometimes executed a bit too fast. I know, I know, most people want fast-paced stories. But I'd characterize these chapters as "all war, all the time," when it would be nice to slow down every so often. There were a few of those breather moments in the book, and they're honestly some of the highlights of the novel. I suspect the author knows this, as one of them is depicted on the front cover.

The best chapter in the book, imo!

That gives me hope that as the series progresses, Zamil will strike an even better balance of action and character development.

Beyond that, I'm looking forward to more of the intricately crafted setting and political scheming that really set this book apart from others in the genre. This is a book that lends itself to theorizing, and I had a blast trying to figure out where it was going as it built toward the large-scale set pieces that conclude the story.

Overall, Gunmetal Gods was a wild ride and an intriguing start to the series. I loved its exploration of the human costs of cosmic wars and the unique influence these Lovecraftian gods have on these characters. For readers looking for a gripping spiral into the dark depths of depravity inflicted in the name of holy righteousness, Zamil Akhtar has got you covered.

4.5/5 ⭐

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