Captain Ean Tephe is a man of faith, whose allegiance to his lord and to his ship is uncontested. The Bishopry Militant knows this — and so, when it needs a ship and crew to undertake a secret, sacred mission to a hidden land, Tephe is the captain to whom the task is given.
Tephe knows from that the start that his mission will be a test of his skill as a leader of men and as a devout follower of his god. It’s what he doesn’t know that matters: to what ends his faith and his ship will ultimately be put — and that the tests he will face will come not only from his god and the Bishopry Militant, but from another, more malevolent source entirely…
Say your prayers… and behold The God Engines.
This book did a lot of things while I was reading it. First, I was mesmerized by the world that John Scalzi created within its pages. Second, I was completely floored by how the ending wound up. Third, I was angry because it wasn’t longer.
I loved The God Engines.
If you were to ask me which fictional universe I’ve read in the past five years that I would give anything to have more books written within, it would be this one. The very idea of fallen gods being used to power starships is just amazing. That these gods can hand out talents that give people special skills or powers is even better. Wrap all of that up inside a culture and society that is heavily influence by religion and religious fervor of different kinds and all of the sudden I found myself immersed in something incredibly rich and exhaustively satisfying. Why can’t there be more!
The God Engines is technically more of a novella, which is fine, but I found myself so sad that it wasn’t 500 pages long when I finished. The writing is so rich and the concepts so unique in comparison to a lot of the things I read that leaving it at a mere 130ish pages seems criminal.
A major concept within the book is that of faith. That the faith of the followers of each god has a direct and important impact on the amount of power that god can wield, or that it has over other gods whose followers are not as strong in their faith. Scalzi even examines the idea that original faith is more powerful than faith one gains as a result of family tradition, etc. It really had me thinking about a lot of things as I devoured the pages. Especially when the true nature of the most powerful god is revealed.
Here’s a sobering question: What if the gods have gods? Better yet: What if you made those gods mad? I get shivers thinking about it and the repercussions seen in the book.
I’ll be reading this book again, likely soon, because I want to see what pieces I may have missed the first time through. I suggest everyone give it a try as well. I will be shocked if you don’t find something inside its pages that will make you think hard for a few hours about how faith works in relation to religion and to the absence of religion.
Length: 136 pages