Gods of the Wyrdwood by R.J. Barker

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Gods of the Wyrdwood is a dark fantasy story from critically acclaimed British author R J Barker. The first in a new high fantasy trilogy Forsaken, Gods of the Wyrdwood is perfect for fans of epic and immersive tales.

We meet the lone forester Cahan du Nahere, a man who was taken from his family as a boy and spent years training to fulfil a violent prophecy. Interestingly, Barker eschews the bildungsroman element such a story might indicate and rather than watching Cahan grow into adulthood, we meet him as a man in his thirties. Disillusioned and bitter, Cahan only wants to be left alone at his small farm in the woods to tend his animals and try to forget the past. He has forsworn any use of the powers and training that once meant he was to destined to be powerful person in the land. Unfortunately for Cahan, despite his vow not to become involved in the struggles and machinations of those around him, he cannot stay hidden and isolated forever. Against his will, Cahan is drawn into a battle against vicious forces where he will have to finally decide what is more important: his freedom or his conscious.

Gods of the Wyrdwood is a dark and violent read but it is an excellent one. Barker has created a vivid fantasy world of which, in this first book, we are only allowed to glimpse a small part. Compelling characters, intricate plotting and a superb twist in the novel’s final pages means that it will feel like a long wait until the next instalment of the series arrives on shelves.

Themes: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Religion, Nature, Magic, War, Power, Identity, Friendship.

Rose Tabeni