Arc Review: Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons

This was their fate. This choking monotony of blood.

Set Fire to the Gods was a book I didn’t realise I needed to read until I read the synopsis. Now my experience with this book was somewhat rocky. Because when I first read the synopsis I expected the book to be fast paced and intense, but that was not the case. I was tempted to put down the book at first simply because Ifound it kind of slow, but once I got into it I loved it. The strong point of this book is the world building, it felt really fleshed out and laid the groundwork for this book as well as the sequel really well.

Galley was provided by the publisher through Edelweiss Plus.

As mentioned earlier the world-building is where this book is at its strongest. The world is based on gods and their descendants, and the gods are both objects of worship but also active characters in the story. The premise of the book is that gods no longer engage in war with each other but instead settle fights with gladiator fights. And the story starts off with one of the main characters accidentally start another war.

I found this really interesting to read about, because the idea of having gods as both antagonists and allies is not something I’ve read a lot before. The gods serve as a kind of head of government in their nations, as well as being the gods the citizens worship with temples and prayers. And I just can’t get over how brilliant I found this set up. It somehow managed to work amazingly and through the story of our main characters we not only get to watch the lives under different gods but also in different social classes, and it showcases how the gods aren’t necessarily virtuous and good.

We can’t know what the gods are thinking, but we have to believe they know best. The gods aren’t to blame. People are to blame. Every choice the gods make, they do so trying to give us a good life. Corrupt people are the ones who mess it all up.

As I mentioned earlier I was tempted to put this book down at first because of the pacing. This came more from a wrong set of expectations, where I assumed any book about gladiators would be fast paced and plot focused. But this was not the case, Set Fire to the Gods is very much a character and world focused book. As the story progresses so does the characters and their relationships to each other and the relationships to their gods.

The characters are very interesting, and their development throughout the novel is best displayed in the way they stop viewing their gods as all-good and instead become angry and full of rage. Because that’s what this book is about a lot of the way through; it’s anger, rage, vengeance and feeling like you don’t belong or don’t want to belong anymore.

She wanted to tell him how sick her own questions made her, how much she hated the doubt twining around her heart.

She wanted to be angry again. She wanted to fume with vengeance.

This is a book I would recommend for anyone who wants to read a less intense but still interesting story about gods and gladiators, that relies on world building to tell the story of people caught under leaders that send their people to their deaths. It’s a book for you if you want to read about angry characters who want revenge on the world and the people who made their world what it is.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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