Paternus: Rise of Gods by Dyrk Ashton – Review

Paternus is a self-published urban fantasy trilogy, all three books of which are completed. This review is focusing on book one Paternus: Rise of Gods.

This book mainly follows Fi, a seventeen year old student in Toledo. She lives with her uncle Edgar, and along with her boyfriend Zeke they get drawn into the world of semi-immortal beings known as the firstborn.

Dyrk Ashton does many wonderful things with this series. The world feels big and well realised, with many side characters that are intriguing. In the first two thirds of Paternus: Rise of Gods the chapters following Fi, our main protagonist, are sprinkled in between chapters following multiple different characters from all around the world. Some of these characters we only see once or twice, others actually get a pretty significant page count. In the final third of the book we become much more focused on Fi’s story.

I’ll warn you now, I have very mixed feelings about this book. Ashton builds an incredible world that I am already really invested in. The mythology and lore is brilliant and I love how it blends in flawlessly with our world’s real history. This is one of the better realised urban fantasy worlds I have read. The negative side of this is how it is accomplished. Ashton relies heavily on info dumps, and has many chapters from character’s points of view that feel much more important for building the world than for advancing the plot.

Another issue I have is that I felt very little for our main protagonist. I’m not exactly sure why, but I do have a few things that didn’t help. Ashton writes in the present tense which to start with I found rather off-putting, however I came to rather like it by the end. I do wonder though if that initial awkwardness hampered my attachment to our main characters. Another interesting decision was Ashton’s use of third person omniscient. This leads to us jumping from one character’s head to another very quickly and made it feel like we were viewing everything from above rather than through the eyes of any one character. Both these decisions are by no means objectively bad, and many will love the different feel it gives to much modern fantasy, however I think it did impact how I related to our main characters.

Early on I found the writing a little tedious in the sections following Fi. This was compounded by the fact that I enjoyed the side characters that populated our alternate POV’s, a lot more than I enjoyed the main plot. I found Fi to be relatively passive, and by the end it really felt like we had just got passed the inciting incident. I will say however that I enjoyed the writing of the Fi’s plot much more as it progresses towards the end of the book.

In summary, I adore the world Ashton has created and I am really excited to explore it more in the following books. However, Paternus: Rise of Gods as a book on its own felt a little lackluster, it really felt as though it was doing a large amount of heavy lifting to build the world at the expense of its narrative. The heavy lifting it was doing though is leaving me pumped for the follow-ups

I’m giving 3.5 stars, with the caveat that I really think the next two books could improve on this massively, now that the world is properly fleshed out.

Go forth and read.


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