Envy of the Gods If the Reward Were Right by Andrea Savitch
While growing up Atan watched his father’s land shrink. He knew when he was Duke he would bring Ishtba back to prominence and improve the country. He swears fealty to King Samed, the ruler of Raalek. No matter what he does, King Samed and his sons will be safe from him.
When Atan, Duke of Ishtba takes over he starts retaking the lands that neighboring rulers had encroached upon. He is stern, unmoveable, frightening, feared, honest, and fair. When he says something will happen, he keeps his word. He gains power in Raalek as he gains land. His right hand man, Mahtso, enjoys his job – too much. He is faithful to the Duke and the Duke is able to restrain Mahtso’s more evil preferences.
Raphela grows up in one of Ishtba’s villages. She is single minded, fair, honest, strong and thirsty for knowledge. She refuses marriage to any of the men of the village. Instead she sets her sights on the castle. When she is prepared, she runs away from her village and goes to the castle. She will offer herself as Atan’s concubine.
Atan takes Raphela on, realizing he has found someone who can match his own power and ethics. Ishtba now has two strong people at the helm. Ishtba can only thrive as it grows and takes over neighboring land.
Andrea Savitch has written an impressive book. Envy of the Gods: If the Reward Were Right has well drawn strong characters. I was sure what was coming next because I have read plenty of fantasy novels of growing midevil type countries. I was usually wrong. I expected wars that stayed as battles. I expected conflict that was resolved instead. This is not a novel of war, but a novel of growth and discovery.
Envy of the Gods: If the Reward Were Right is a fantasy novel because Raalek is an imaginary land with some interesting contrasts. But at the same time, that is the main reason it can be classified as a fantasy. Instead it is a good political fiction novel with the right amount of conflict and romance. The major problem I had with Savitch’s book is the fact that it was too short. The story line starts and ends at the right times. But I kept wanting more explanations and background. They have this new knowledge and it is used. How is it used? Why was the ancient knowledge lost? What is going on in Atan’s or Raphela’s minds? This is the first of (I believe) a trilogy about Raalek. I’ll look forward to the next novel.
Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations
Publicist provided for review