3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Shadow Pantheon by Eric Nierstedt is an urban fantasy novel. There are ancient gods living among humans without revealing their real identities. Anubis, Athena, Balder, Coyote, Kali-Ma, still retain some of their powers and use them to do good, even without taking credit for their deeds. That's the deal they made with Yahweh a long time ago. However, an event forced them to act in the open, and that had consequences. More ancient gods are coming back.
Shadow Pantheon is the sequel to Silent Pantheon, which introduced some ancient gods who are living like normal humans. Their life is generally peaceful, but things have changed. More ancient gods believed dead are coming back. Now they have to find them, hoping that they'll accept the deal with Yahweh, otherwise there will be war.
The main theme of the novel is the role ancient gods can have in a world that changed so much throughout the millennia in which Yahweh is by far the most powerful among them. The ancient gods who survived accepting to live like humans had to make hard choices and think about who they are.
Deities are archetypes because they were created by humans' faith that there are gods who heal, teach, bury the dead, and so on, but living like humans means they can do it at a limited scale. Their problem in figuring out their future is not so different from what humans experience. That means the author addresses ethical and moral issues linked to their choices. There's a lot of introspection with the gods dealing with their past and trying to make the best of their present and future. The protagonists have their well-defined personalities, a strong part of the novel.
Note that Yahweh, as the god of the Bible is called in this series, is depicted in an ambiguous way. He doesn't appear directly, but that means that ancient gods must do the dirty work in case of a crisis. The angel Joshua works with the ancient gods who do good, but he's the exception as generally angels are depicted as arrogant. This might upset some believers.
One element of the book I can criticize is the plot's fragmentation. For a good part of the novel, the protagonists are separated, so there are various subplots. The chapters skip from one subplot to another, which sometimes makes it difficult to follow them all.
Despite this flaw, I found Shadow Pantheon very good because it's a great mix of action and introspection in a story that is emotionally engaging and intellectually interesting. However, the book contains several errors, which don't detract from my enjoyment but force me to take a star from my rating, which is 3 out of 4 stars. This novel works on its own, but if you like urban fantasy with gods as its protagonists, I recommend reading both Silent Pantheon and Shadow Pantheon because the first novel is great as well and reading both of them you get the full character development, an important part of this series. I expect a third book because there are still plot elements left open, but the main storyline has an end.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon