Book Review: The God Tattoo by Tom Lloyd

Genre: Fantasy, Short Stories
Series: An anthology of Twilight Reign
Publisher: Pyr
Date of Publication: November 5, 2013
Author Information: Website | Twitter
 
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars – “A fantastic collection of dark and magical tales showing the epic scope of the world from Twilight Reign; a good choice for lovers of short stories
I’m not generally in the habit of reading short story collections, though it wouldn’t be accurate to say I’m not a fan of them either. It’s just that given a choice between an anthology or a full-length novel, I would most likely end up picking the latter because they tend to better satisfy my appetite for more in-depth character development and world-building. Not that I don’t think a short story is incapable of achieving this at all, but it does take a talented author to make me connect to their characters and world the same way in so few pages. After reading The God Tattoo though, I’m happy to report that Tom Lloyd is one of them.
Of course, this collection of “untold tales from the Twilight Reign” also has the added benefit of taking place in a fantasy universe already established in a series of five books. According to the introduction, reading the main Twilight Reign series is not a prerequisite before tackling The God Tattoo, which is good because I’m a newcomer to this world myself. I have to say not being familiar with any of the locations or characters (apparently, not many of the major ones appear here anyway) did not hinder my enjoyment one bit; if anything I’m even more impressed with the sheer scope and epic quality of the world of Twilight Reign
As the author himself has written, his series was never intended to be about one person or even a group of people; the history and population of an entire land are affected by the events, and the eleven stories presented here give a pretty good idea of what that means. There’s a nice variety, from tales of mystery like A Beast in Velvet and The Marshall’s Reflection, to some that are disturbingly magical, carrying a hint of that dark fairy tale flavor (examples like The God Tattoo, A Man Collecting Spirits, and Afraid of the Dark come immediately to mind).
This collection does a good job of fleshing out the world, showing how the people are an inextricable part of its history. The way some of these stories are connected merely serves to emphasize this point, featuring characters that shape events outside their own story and vice versa. As such, this anthology seems to flow better than most. Seen in context together, all eleven tales paint a very intriguing picture of Twilight Reign, with what I felt was a strong touch of horror to give the series that haunted, shadowy feel. It definitely sets the kind of tone I like to look for in my dark and epic fantasy.
Bottom line, I think this would be a great choice for avid readers of short stories and anthologies. That doesn’t describe me at all, but even so, I found myself enjoying this book a lot. Though Tom Lloyd did say that this collection is not required reading for fans of the Twilight Reign novels, I can’t think of any reason why any fan wouldn’t want to pick this one up as well; if you’re familiar with the world already, the stories here will probably resonate more. And if you’re a new reader of his work, The God Tattoo might be inspiration to add The Stormcaller to your reading list. I personally added it because I got a taste of the series and Tom Lloyd’s writing from these short stories, found that I liked what I saw, and now I’m interested in the full-length novels.
4 of 5 stars

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  
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