Downfall of the Gods

March 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

godsDownfall of the Gods by K.J. Parker

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Gods squabble. It happens, especially in pantheons. Greek mythology shows us that they can have petty jealousies and vindictive hearts, but in Parker’s hands, they squabble deliciously, with passive aggressive barbs and scathing wit. A common refrain in this story is, “To the gods all things are possible.” This is, among other things, how one god can keep her temper when another is mouthing off at her.

Terry Pratchett kind of cornered the market on funny fantasy, but Parker takes it to another level that sets him apart. Pratchett’s books are serious, with consequences, as are Parker’s, but Parker’s books are much darker. Like Pratchett, he looks beneath the banal parts of life and gives us a new perspective on them, but where Pratchett wants to reassure us, Parker wants us to see the futility of it all. He doesn’t just use the tropes of fantasy; he brings them up to the front, spotlights them, and shows us how ridiculous they are.

Thematically, this story is similar to The Things We Do for Love, since it’s about an all-powerful being insisting on staying with a mortal, even after he no longer wants her company. Here, though, Parker takes a hard, scathing look at religion. Gods are capricious and clueless (see: squabbling), and the title of the novella is, after all, Downfall of the Gods.

Parker’s style may not be for everyone, but it touches my dark, sarcastic sense of humor like no other author can. I still don’t know why it took me so long to discover this guy. I have a lot of reading to do.

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