On Black Winds We Rise is the first book in the No Gods Before Us series. It is a fantasy series with a very rich world filled with a wide variety of peoples.

The story is set in 1000 BC on an alternate Earth. It starts in Aegyptus, and later moves to Hibernia. Things are not always what they seem to be in this world, and there are some extremely creepy parts in this book.

Faleesa the Luminous is the high priestess in the Temple of Ra. She is strong, and smart, and the only female priestess. She is the one who trains the new initiates to fight. I liked her immediately.

Some things never change, though. Falessa has to put up with older, less strong, stubborn, male priests, many of whom seem to resent her presence. Most of them fail to take her seriously, and some appear to wish there were no priestesses in the Temple of Ra.

Without giving too much away, Falessa is assigned to find out why a notorious thief has returned. Todark has suddenly started handing out money and precious jewels to random people.

The thief had been taken as a prisoner at the Pharaoh’s royal palace. Faleesa travels there with Ishi, a slave who had been sent from the palace to find her. A priest named Usada, who is not from the Temple of Ra, decides to join them.

They run into an exceptionally annoying bureaucrat named Areshi, who is the type of person who makes you want to throw something at him. There is a power struggle going on between the Temple of Ra and the Pharoah.

I’m leaving out a lot of details here, so as not to spoil the story. In short, Faleesa, Ishi, and Usada listen to Todark’s explanation of why he became so generous with the money and treasure he had stolen. They embark on a journey to a cave, not knowing exactly what to expect.

This is where things go wrong very quickly. Something happens that enables some terrifying, creepy, entities to enter the world.

Meanwhile, another group of travelers are crossing through Hibernia, in the hopes of making a trade deal with a clan of dwarves. The Celtic travelers are led by Faelan, who is next in line to be chieftain.

He is accompanied by his brother Cath, who is a troubled soul, and a handful of men who function like a family. It seemed to me that they have been in battles together before.

Cath is, by far, the most interesting of the group. He has been through some tough times, and cannot seem to move on. The reader views this part of the story through Cath’s viewpoint. It becomes clear he is suffering with some kind of depression, as well as what might be “imposter syndrome”.

The dwarves Warlord, Thordroli Longbane, meets with the group and offers them a deal. It is debatable if the offer will truly benefit both sides equally. Faelan doesn’t have the power to make a decision about it, and so the group must travel back and speak with Faelan and Cath’s father.

They are accompanied by a dwarven mystic named Ceana, who is to find out if the Celtic people accept or reject the deal – and then return. Early on, Cath and Ceana start to form a tentative friendship. He’s able to open up to her, and I’d like to see where their story goes.

Again, without giving away any spoilers, the road home is dangerous and a battle ensues. The attacking party is powerful and something the group had not seen before.

And, somewhere in the story, there is an epic battle between orcs and humans. It moves pretty fast and was exciting to read. There’s this orc named Ratbreath that I feel like I’ve met somewhere before.

On Black Winds We Rise provides a detailed world that the reader can fall right into. The characters feel very real and I am looking forward to finding out what happens next. The “big bad” is uniquely creepy and mysterious, and I’m interested in seeing what it will do.

On Black Winds We Rise (No Gods Before Us) – by Tom McNellis is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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