Child of a Mad God is the first novel in a new fantasy series by R. A. Salvatore, the legendary creator of Drizzt Do’Urden.
Goodreads Rating: 3.86
My Rating: 4 Stars
When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home.
The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night.
From reading some of the other reviews of this book on Goodreads, it seems like this book is slightly polarizing for readers. People seem to either love it, or strongly dislike it. I really enjoyed it, however before I continue my review, I should mention that this is the first R.A Salvatore book that I have read. I have not read any of his Drizzit books set in The Forgotten Realms, or any of his other books set in this same land of Corona. While I’m sure reading his other books would enhance the experience of reading Child of a Mad God, I feel that it also stood strong on its own.
In Child of a Mad God, Salvatore creates a gritty, vivid world for readers to explore. The pacing feels just right, especially if like me, you enjoy books that allow you to travel with characters across decades. The two main characters in this book are Aoleyn, who we first meet as a three year old girl and member of the Usgar tribe and Talmadge (a personal favorite of mine) who we first meet as a 20-something trader with a troubled past.
In addition to the characters, another aspect of the book that intrigued me and held my interest was the system of magic. In the Usgar tribe, women are generally subjugated however, some of them have an affinity for using magic found in crystals, and can then join a group of witches, known as “The Coven.” As she grows Aoleyn shows an affinity for the magic, but she is also a strong female character who does not want to conform to the strict, misogynistic rules of Usgar society. I will say that there are times when sexual abuse is used as a plot device, so be aware of that. That aside though, both main characters face many challenges and plot twists throughout the book and when I finished it, I picked up the sequel immediately so that I could keep travelling with these characters.
In sum, I give Child of a Mad God 4/5 stars. It kind of reminded me of Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear, but with magic and mystical creatures. Haha. I recommend it for readers who are in the mood for a gritty, fantasy, with intriguing characters, a strong female lead, and an interesting and unique system of magic.
I will definitely check out the next installment.