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(Gods of the Caravan Road #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  772 ratings  ·  110 reviews
In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the caravan-guard Holla-Sayan, escaping the bloody conquest of a lakeside town, stops to help an abandoned child and a dying dog. The girl, though, is the incarnation of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail, and the dog a shape-changing guardian spirit whose origins have been forgotten. Po ...more
Paperback, 547 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Pyr (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  772 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review, 2014
I've spent a good amount of time on online fantasy forums (you know, with all my free time) where I can geek out about fantasy books and authors and discuss the important questions like who would win in a fight, Ser Loras Tyrell or Aragorn (Sorry Loras, Elf training wins!). Be it sffworld (where I found Goodreads actually), r/fantasy on reddit, or a number of other places such as blogs.

Often, they are filled with jaded readers who've read all the traditional stuff, and they're always looking fo
Anthony Ryan
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In The Marakand Road series KV Johansen has crafted a captivating world of gods, demons, wizards and warriors. Enriched by a keen eye for character and masterly, lyrical prose this is an insightful look at the corrosive nature of power on the human soul, not to mention featuring some of the best swordfights I've ever read.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
This book feels traditional and modern at the same because it’s epic fantasy with its share of gods and goddesses, spirits, devils, wizards, lots of world building and magic, but it also features mature protagonists and rounded moral issues, harrowing straits and well, a "surly, devoted, one-man dog”.

The result is both refreshing and well-grounded in the canons of the genre; I particularly liked the idea of supernatural entities sharing the body and cohabiting with the souls of their human hosts
Jared Millet
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I appreciate an author who isn't afraid to be cruel to her characters. Even more, I appreciate an author able to create a fresh, memorable fantasy setting without following the current fads of the market (urban/steampunk/etc). Most of all, the blessings of the Old Great Gods themselves on K.V. Johansen for telling her story in a single, complete volume as opposed to the standard 7-book epic we've come to expect.

The story is simple: bad guy drives good guys from home, good guys go on a journey of
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one starts with kind of a bang. The world is one of those where many relatively small gods are manifest or incarnate in various geographical features (various streams, hills, etc.) and/or their worshippers. To begin with, a ... well, let's call him "wizard" for expediency's sake, leads a force attaking the sacred precincts of Lissavakail, home of the human-embodied goddess Attalissa, and her bound spirit guardian (also human-embodied), the Blackdog. Attalissa herself (currently embodied in ...more
Chris King Elfland's 2nd Cousin
Sep 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Epic Fantasy Fans
NOTE: This review first appeared at The King of Elfland's 2nd Cousin . If you enjoy this review, please stop by!

It is tough to write an epic fantasy that adheres to the sub-genre's conventions while still offering something new and innovative. Different authors use different techniques: Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire subverts the idea that the hero always wins, Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon expands the scope of epic fantasy (see my earlier review), and N.K. Jemi
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it

My wife and daughter were out of town this past week so I took the opportunity to really plow through some of my to read pile backlog.  K.V. Johansen’s Blackdog coming out this September is hard to justify as "backlog", but it's a title that’s called to me from the first time I laid eyes on it.  The cover is another one from Raymond Swanland who has done such good work for James Barclay, Glen Cook, and others. His covers always contain such tangible motion
Apr 28, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy, epic-fantasy
So, checking this out from the library was an experiment--should it or should it not stay on the TBR?

It is indeed worth reading. The story is set in a multi-deistic world (which reminds me slightly of Bennett's Divine Cities) where one of the goddesses has chosen to become embodied, lifetime after lifetime. She's accompanied and protected by The Black Dog. The dog is an avatar, more or less, and ends up being passed to a mercenary soldier who wants to be kind to a young, helpless child.

At page
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
While I rarely mention cover art in a review, I feel like the cover art of Blackdog particularly supports the book. It’s artistic, ethereal and mysterious without being over-the-top. It causes potential readers to wonder what it’s all about, setting the perfect tone and attitude before the reader even cracks the spine and Johansen carries that through to the last page. Everything about Blackdog is measured, deep, planned and thought out. An incredible world and wonderful characters are created i ...more
Oct 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I like the story idea and the main characters but the author gets bogged down in character details (pages of writing that gets boring/repetitious). I think it would be better as a shorter novel so the pacing would keep me more intersted. I unfortunately did not finish this book. I will try K. V. Johansen's short story collection though.
Elspeth Cooper
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gods and devils and magic, oh my!

This book had everything I love about epic fantasy, without a castle in sight. This is warlords and warrior-priestesses, in a near-east/silk road inspired setting, rich with character and magics and myth. And camels. And otherworldly swords, ancient hatreds, old sins and new forgiveness.

This world lives and breathes; it was so evocative I could almost smell the steppe winds, and a hint of spices. It also feels much, much larger than the confines of this story, an
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, passionate, and lyrical epic fantasy, which reads like a lettre d'amour to Steven Erikson. Told in a fluid style that is reminiscent of the great myths and folklores told around native cultures across the world. K.V. Johansen has produced a amazing story filled with gods, devils, demons and mortals, which has a humane spirit. This is a story of desert sands and wild grasses, flowing rivers and cataracts, lakes and springs, of ice and mountains, and magic of the earth and the stars.

Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is going right into the list of my ten favorite fantasy books.

First of all, the setting and mythology are GORGEOUS and AWESOME and INTERESTING. Mostly the vibe was Central Asian steppes/desert, with some Northern European and Baltic flavors. I love books with tons of gods and spirits and demons, and I love books with gods interacting with humans, so basically I LOVED THIS BOOK.

I fully enjoyed all the povs, from Attalissa and Holla-Sayan to Ivah, the daughter of the novel's ~big bad~, Tamg
Nov 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeffrey Doten
Dec 27, 2012 rated it did not like it

Sadly, I'm done, I really tried. At something like 550 pages and a protagonist that I haven't seen for over 200 pages, the writer owes me my money and time back. Its more like a series of connected novelettes than a novel. That isn't so good for pacing. Beautiful opening, great cover. Completely self indulgent. I'd read a sample and was so ready to love this book. This is very disappointing.
[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.]
Jun 20, 2019 marked it as could-not-finish
Shelves: fiction
Just...dull. 200 pages and I'm waiting for something to happen. Like the opposite of a slow burn. Started out great and just ...stopped.
Jay Requard
So after a couple of months away from this beauty, I have come to appreciate Johansen's work more and more when I think about it. The stylistic blend of stream of consciousness and third limited lend itself very well to the characters she has built in this East Asian Steppes-world of truly high magic and blindingly smart action. From top to bottom, the characters breath on their own, which is something very hard to do when one considers how many different POV characters there are in this book. G ...more
Charlie Holmberg
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Overall, I loved this book. The characters were fantastic, the setting excellent, the plot fluid and the prose beautiful. The ideas behind the story are very original, and I love that in a fantasy.

The story starts when a wizard named Tamghat attacks the temple of mortal-born goddess Attalissa, who is only eight years old and hasn't come into her powers yet. She's protected by a demon called Blackdog, who has possessed the bodies of different male hosts over the millennia, always at her side. Tam
Kelly Flanagan
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Gods are becoming an approachable subject for books more and more. I'm glad, for out of those came Blackdog. Blackdog is the name of a spirit that inhabits a man's body in order to be a guardian of Attalissa, goddess of Lissavakail. Attalissa has for many lifetimes, reincarnated in a human body, much like the Dali Lama. Inn this world the old mighty Gods have been fought and have backed away from humanity either by choice or by force. to keep some connection there are smaller Gods, gods of sprin ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I tend to read a lot of epic fantasy, and I do have to wade through a lot of chaff to find the wheat. This book was recommended to me because it was a rarity: an epic fantasy that was a stand-alone story, and not "part one of eight." Don't get me wrong: I love multi-volume series, but it's really refreshing to read a book that's just a self-contained story.

The world is rich and interesting, and the characters consistently engaging, and the plot although simple (man gains great power; challenges
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
The first 50 pages of this book really pulled me in: it starts with a great action sequence and an interesting mythology. But after that, it just plodded. The book is called Blackdog, yet pages 100–200 focus on other characters entirely, none of them interesting. There are four different narrative threads through this book, but they don't begin to weave together until the last 100 pages. And despite everything happening slowly, the author's love of commas makes for some very long, dense sentence ...more
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A goddess incarnated as a child is forced to flee a powerful devil who wants to absorb her as part of his campaign to attack the remote Older Gods, and grows into a teenager who returns--with some doughty allies--to reclaim her demesne. This is a good, sturdy YA fantasy in a fat book with a cast of marvelously distinct characters and only a few passages that wax too wordy (a rarity these days). In some parts it reminds me strongly in prose, relationships and general tone of C.J. Cherryh's Morgai ...more
Tommy Carlson
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Like pretty much everyone else who read this, I picked it up because it was billed as an epic tale in a single book. Like most other folks, I found it lacking in terms of storytelling and characterization, which may well be unavoidable in a single-book epic tale.

There are some interesting ideas here, particularly regarding the world's gods, but the plotting lags. Midway through the book, I really had to push myself to finish. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't holding my interest. I did push on,
Ingrid Seymour
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Epic? Intricate? Rich? Yes, Yes, Yes

Long? Certainly . . . but if you stick with it you won’t be disappointed.

Not the traditional type of fantasy. So if you’re looking for something different. Something found in the slush pile which actually caught someone’s attention because it stood out from the rest, then give this a try.

My only complaints: I wish Atalissa had kicked butt a little more, a little earlier. And maybe it could have been a few pages shorter with less exposition.

But as a whole, I e
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
It took me a little more than a few chapters to really become immersed into this book, but once I did, it was hard to put this read down. Love the religion, love the characters, and I am eager to see more of this fabulous world; I do so very much want a sequel!
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 stars, better than a 2 so it gets a 3. Bottom line on this story is the middle of the it is long, pointless and boring. The book starts off with a bang and at first the story promises to be good but then it just goes no where. The saving grace is it picks up at the end but then, well it's more like anticlimactic then climatic. Can't really recommend it.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mallori by: io9 review
This book was an interesting and enjoyable read. I read it on the recommendation/positive review by io9, where it was presented as a stand-alone (yay!) epic fantasy that asks interesting questions about self and godhood, in a similar vein to NK Jemisin's Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Loving those books, this was an irresistible endorsement, and it does deliver on those things (though not quite as developed as Jemisin's series). A few thoughts:

I love books with a well thought out mythology of gods
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: epic-fantasy
Synopsis: Long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, there were seven devils…

And long ago, in the days of the first kings in the north, the seven devils, who had deceived and possessed seven of the greatest wizards of the world, were defeated and bound with the help of the Old Great Gods…

And perhaps some of the devils are free in the world, and perhaps some are working to free themselves still…

In a land where gods walk on the hills and goddesses rise from river, lake, and spring, the
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've loved fantasy in general, but lately I've not been reading a lot of fantasy, for two big reasons: One, there seem to be a lot of highly derivative "mechanically produced fantasy filler" books these days, and without being more on top of the genre than I am it's hard to separate those out from the good stuff; and two, with a busy life and a relatively slow reading pace, it's hard to commit to "book one of three of the first cycle of six".

Blackdog both provides a unique take on standard fant
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Mostly, I write fantasy (epic fantasy ... character-driven epic fantasy ... with shapeshifters, demons, gods, and ... Moth, around whom even the gods get a bit nervous). These days, I largely write for adults, though I've written many children's and YA fantasy novels and some children's science fiction, as well as picture books, plus I've been known to perpetrate literary criticism.

Gods of the Na

Other books in the series

Gods of the Caravan Road (5 books)
  • The Leopard (Marakand, #1)
  • The Lady (Marakand, #2)
  • Gods of Nabban
  • The Last Road

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