Servant of a Dark God, by John Brown (his website is here), is principally the story of a young man who learns he has special powers or abilities that must be developed and controlled before a dark and evil force can steal his soul.
Does that sound kind of like Star Wars? Harry Potter? The Sword of Truth? Mistborn? Nancy Drew?
Yes, this book is one of those. But it is also so much more . . . just like you know that, while the Harry Potter books and the Star Wars films follow an archetypal pattern, Harry and Luke have very different stories.
What makes Servant of a Dark God stand above other, more mundane samples of this archetype is the combination of excellent storytelling and fine writing, plus a well-rounded cast of characters, including my requisite strong female character. I've said it before (if not here, then somewhere else that I can't remember right now, only I know I've said it before): some authors are good storytellers, but not very good writers. (
As for the storytelling, there is so much action in the book, along with so much artfully accomplished characterization (which I guess really belongs in the writing skill category), that people you hardly know but suddenly care very much about get caught up in events beyond their control, and you dread the possibility that they may not survive the encounter. When they don't, you are troubled by the loss, and when they do, you barely have time to register relief before they are off into some other kettle of fish.
Anyway, the book was so exciting, I read it all in only three days, which also made me happy because I felt almost like that lady who finishes a book a day because she reads while watching tv.
I was trying to think of some sort of scale that I could use to rate the books I read. I mean, I could use numbers from 1 to 10, or I could use the 5-star scale, or something similar. But that seems so mundane. So the other day I was talking to Adrien about a Neil Gaiman book she'd read that she wasn't much impressed by, and I mentioned that was odd because everyone nowadays seems to think Gaiman is the greatest thing since sliced Shakespeare. Shakespeare, to me, is the ne plus ultra of writers, so I think he makes a perfect standard against which to gauge other writers. I haven't worked out a system, so I can't tell you right now how many slices of Shakespeare Servant of a Dark God gets, but I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, go read Servant of a Dark God.
PS 10 points if you can tell me the source of the quote used for the title.