What would you do if you had the power to create a world of your own? In Tom Wolosz’s The Agony of the Gods, he explores what humanity would rise, or sink to, because of this ability. We get to see worlds sprung from the imaginations of these god’s that are as varied and deprived as the people who created them. But even with the power of a god, the owners of these worlds are being murdered.
Two unlikely protagonists, called enforcers, are tasked to solve the murders, but they are given very few resources to attempt to complete this task. As they go from world to world investigating the murders, each plays a cat and mouse game with the killer, and each other. But as the depravity of the gods becomes more and more evident, the book’s back cover sums it up. Are the protagonists hunting down a monster or a hero?
Wolosz has developed very well rounded characters that make you think. You invest in both of the main characters, but there are times where you need to take sides, and you don’t always side with the same character. That takes a deft hand. One of my favorite book series where the author did the same thing for me was C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy. There, like here, no one is totally good or totally evil. The shades of grey give the characters a life and depth that makes them come alive. When the final confrontation comes the answer is obvious, but unless you were paying attention you wouldn’t have guessed till then end.
This is NOT popcorn fiction. You will have to pay attention to the prose, not just scan for the next juicy moment. Luckily, Wolosz makes this easy. The only times I had to put the novel down were when the gods showed how truly contemptable they are. Yet even as you think this is one step too far, you realize it really isn’t, and you could see it being a true possibility. This makes the book a dark read, but a fun one that trips along the worst of humanity, while still allowing a beacon of hope here and there.
To sum this up, I highly recommend The Agony of the Gods. It is a complex read that is very rewarding. I look forward to reading the sequel and seeing how much farther Wolosz can push the boundaries of the universe with his copy of the Machine that he keeps locked up in his desk drawer. I just hope one day I can find the key and let myself in.