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Aching God

(Iconoclasts #1)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,680 ratings  ·  230 reviews
“Closer, mortal. You are here, finally, to feed the Aching God…”

The days of adventure are passed for Auric Manteo. Retired to the countryside with his scars and riches, he no longer delves into forbidden ruins seeking dark wisdom and treasure. That is, until old nightmares begin plaguing his sleep, heralding an urgent summons back to that old life.

To save his only daughter
Paperback, 602 pages
Published April 9th 2018 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
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Mike Shel Simon is definitely on board as narrator for Sin Eater. Thank you Simon and Podium Publishing!

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Nicholas Eames
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this one on audiobook, which was narrated by Simon Vance, and damn did he do a great job.

The Aching God takes place in a setting that just begs to be a pen and paper roleplaying game. It feels like a classic quest, but one infused with rising dread instead of hopeful optimism. The world is fleshed out in vivid detail; its politics and religion play vital roles, and every npc--er, I mean character is brimming with unique personality. If, like me, you like your books like you like y
Phil Tucker
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's not often I come out and review a book in such glowing terms, but I just stayed up late to finish reading Mike Shel's ACHING GOD and guys, it's the real deal.

I'm trying to figure out how best to explain why I loved this book. Perhaps it's the older protagonist, a retired professional adventurer who now suffers from debilitating and entirely believable PTSD stemming from his last catastrophic foray into a forbidden dungeon.

Perhaps its the palpable sense of dread and horror that Mike conveys
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had heard so much about this one! Many people on my GR friends list have read this one and 5 starred it, including people like Swiff who I tend to have similar taste with – so I was really excited to start 😀 It didn’t let me down!

I love older characters, there’s just something about a more grizzled and life-worn person that makes them more appealing to me. So, I was pretty thrilled to figure out that this is book had one of my favorite tropes! An older badass coming out of retirement story! Au
Nick Borrelli
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Click here for my full review:

Auric Manteo is a retired adventurer and former member of a guild named The Syraeic League. Auric thought that his relic-hunting days were over long ago after multiple family tragedies, including the deaths of his son and later his wife by suicide. All Auric cares to do now is live out the rest of his life trying to pick up the pieces and hopefully mend the strained relationship that he has with his only remaining loved one, h
The Nerd Book Review
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Podcast link to author interview
The Nerd Book Review

First of all I’ve been in a pretty epic reading slump lately. I’ve been getting by because I need to with the podcast but I haven’t always enjoyed my reading the last month or two. This novel was a pure joy from the first page to the last. I found myself even trying to steal a couple of pages even when I knew I was only going to have time to read a couple of pages before something came up.
The MC, Auric, was a refreshing change-up from the ty
Alec Hutson
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my, yes. What a terrific read. I really hope Mike Shel's The Aching God is a harbinger of where the fantasy genre is headed. Not childish or simplistic, but also not gory, dull, dreary grimdark. Well-crafted fantasy for adults that presents a complex, interesting story in a faceted world (with some grayness), yet manages to elicit a sense of wonder in the reader. The character of Auric - solid, grounded, flawed, but a good man - is a welcome respite from an endless parade of anti-heroes. An ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the third book in a row I've given a 5 star rating... That bodes ill for the first book I pick up that disappoints me. After a string of really good books it can be hard to find reads.

Now all that said this is humdinger of an action fantasy. Any veteran of fantasy lit and those who've been intro'd to fantasy through RPG or Hack & Slash games will get this. We open with a man who's a veteran of "adventuring. He'd worked for a group who contracted to "clean-out" ruins left by a long (proba
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: spfbo-2018
* I read this as it's one of the finalists for #SPFBO 2018 and I am a judge *

This book is a dark, big adventure of a story. It's got a lot of things to like, but it felt a bit words and overdone at times for my personal liking, so I ended up giving it a 3*s (6/10 for #SPFBO). We follow a character called Auric who is retired until he is summoned to the city where his estranged daughter has been living with only the knowledge that something has happened to her. Auric is an old veteran, and he pla
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one of the finalists for the SPBO2018, my first time reading these books in this competition.

So far I have really enjoyed what I have read of the 10 finalist (still a couple of more to read).

Plenty of variety in the final 10, most of fantasy’s sub genres are in here.

I really enjoyed this book, all the characters development is well written and believable especially the PTSO of the main character. World building was also well done, the author has left himself lots of lovely places and time
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had a fantastic time with this one. Shel instills a sense of creeping dread from the very beginning and it increases with every chapter. Auric was a refreshing main character – older, battle worn, plagued by his memories and PTSD from the life he has led. He’s a good hearted but flawed man who’s doing his best in a difficult situation, and given that the genre is host to a sea of misanthropic badasses, that’s something I truly appreciate. For me, Auric was reminiscent of Caz from Bujold’s The ...more
Cee Jay
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was so surprised by this book. I listen to audio books exclusively, I hardly ever have the time to read them anymore. That being said, narration is extremely important to me. Certain books that would otherwise be great, have been left untouched due to the narrator (::coughnickpodehlcough::) being completely unsuited and/or bad. After listening to the sample chapter I was pleasantly surprised by Simon Vance (this was the first time I've heard him), and boy, I'm so glad I bought this book. Simon ...more
Laura Hughes
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-favourites
Tomb Raider meets the Broken Empire: Aching God is a compelling and carefully crafted debut. Well written and engaging, this first novel in the Iconoclasts series introduces Auric Manteo, a retired relic hunter with a dark past who also happens to be one of the most sympathetic protagonists I've read in a long time. Auric's determination to stick to his own moral code and take care of his companions is refreshing, and the growing sense of camaraderie with his adventuring comrades is an entertain ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Playing role-playing games is one of my fondest memories of childhood. Most of the details from those D&D campaigns have faded, but the feeling of anticipation, discovery, and camaraderie still lingers to this day. There was nothing better than getting together with a group of friends and adventuring into the unknown for countless hours each weekend, excited and nervous and awed by whatever threat was around the next bend. I had thought those affections a thing of the past, so I was admittedly s ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve seen others do amazing things, having prayed to their gods for aid. But how much do these deities involve themselves in our daily lives? How much do they care for our fates? I have no way of knowing. Thus, I place my faith in my sword and the companions beside me. I trust in them.

Wow. I'm coming away from finishing this book with mental imagery that will stay with me for years to come.

During a casual scroll through /r/Fantasy, I found a few (spoiler-free) reviews of this book. A common desc
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shel’s Aching God receives great reviews and does well in SPFBO contest. I had to see for myself what’s the hype about.

The plot is fairly simple, but not simplistic. Clever twists and turns keep the reader guessing and turning the pages. A mysterious plague devastates the Syraeic League, and no one knows how to fight it. Perhaps returning the Besh relic to the temple will help? Because of the plague, the League “employs” story’s protagonist Auric and his companions to make it work.

Auric Manteo,
Jon Adams
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Don't tell my boss, but I usually only read eBooks on my computer at work. I rarely use my Kindle unless I'm traveling. But, this book had me so enthralled that I read most of the last half on my Kindle at home. Unheard of.

I'll try to remember to add more to this later (but I probably won't). Just read it.
Rob Hayes
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was an odd one for me. I'm gonna start with a bit of a glaring issue for me. The narrator. I love Simon Vance's narration on most books, but he just didn't feel quite right for this one. It gave the book such a weary feel, that I never felt excited to pick it back up. I think it actually hurt my enjoyment a little.

So Aching God is a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. We follow along in the head of Auric Manteo, a retired adventurer whose seen some shit! Suffering from a touch of PTSD, Auric
Queen Terrible Timy
I've read this book before SPFBO. My rating is not FBR's final rating, that will be announced later as the final phase progresses.

Full review also can be found on my blog, here:

I recieved a free advance reader's copy in exchange of a honest review. Thanks for Mike Shel for providing me one :)

Auric, retired from the Syraeic League lives a comfortable life far from the city, trying to come to terms with his past failures and regrets. Until, that is, when he
Bryce O'Connor
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Aching God is one of the best dark fantasies I've ever had the pleasure of reading, and THE best debut novel I've ever come across.

Following the viewpoint of Auric Manteo, a retired adventurer, the reader is dragged into an epic tale as Auric is called back to his duty following a disaster that appears to have ties to a previous expedition of his undertaking. There is action, magic, intrigue, and all-powerful-beings a plenty, along with a healthy scattering of madmen, pompous politicos an
Travis Riddle
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spfbo4
Aching God feels like a classic adventure, with a party on a quest to return an ancient relic to the dungeon it came from, but what sets the book apart is its darkness, characterization, and world-building.

I think the world-building is the strongest aspect of the book. There are no info dumps here, no forced dialogue from characters explaining their own backstories or some facet of the world they live in and its history. Instead, Shel doles out bits of information as it becomes relevant in the
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.25 out of 5 stars

Aching God appeared on my radar after seeing several glowing reviews on the r/fantasy subreddit. Now, I don’t always connect with books that r/fantasy fawns over, but this was certainly not the case with Aching God, which is a thoroughly engrossing debut novel that I enjoyed immensely.

The book follows Auric Manteo, a retired mercenary, of sorts, who leads an expedition to return a cursed gem to the haunted temple from whence it came. It’s a straightforward story, but told in e
kartik narayanan
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Aching God is a great mix of Lovecraftian-like horror and a pseudo Dungeons & Dragons setting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its unique twist on the fantasy genre.

Most fantasy books ignore a couple of major points. The first being the gruesomeness of their settings - their monsters and even heroes are, in reality, frightening to the extreme. The second is the metal and physical trauma inflicted on people, including the protagonists, by the constant battles that happen. Aching God takes the
Mark Romero
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A surprisingly good and addictive read. It was the fantasy equivalent of an Indiana Jones film. Good, honest story of adventure. I started reading last night, got a bit tired, checked my phone and it was 4:30am. (YIKES!)
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Full review is here, on my blog!

This is the story of Auric Manteo, who is a retired member of a league of relic hunters and adventurers. With his wife and son dead, all the family he has left is his daughter, and when he receives word that there is a plague caused by a cursed relic rampaging in the city and that his daughter is a victim of it, he agrees to a mission given to him by the queen to return the relic to whence it came – a tomb in the Barrowlands inhabited by a being only known as The
This is the best quest-fantasy book I've read in a long time.

It's not about political maneuvering, or an existential threat to the universe. There's a problem, and Auric Manteo is the guy they chose to solve it.

This book has many of the hallmarks of low-effort pulp fantasy. Adventuring guild. Divine magic/intervention. Dungeon delving.

But Shel turns those on their head and presents them back to you in a fresh way that keeps the pages turning. The rationale for the "guild" and its operations is b
Shalini Nemo
Wow. What a pleasure to discover a proper adventure quest with characters that are so real and make you care for them. I can't wait for the sequel!
21/5/18: Add-on since I didn't have the time and this book warrants it:

The thing that really stood out to me in Aching God are the characters. They feel so real, like people you can meet off the street, with a proper blend of both virtues and flaws. I liked all of them, even that annoying prick Gnaeus. While I have not encountered anyone with PTSD, Au
Cameron Johnston
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is old-school fantasy in the very best way - well-written adventure, swordplay, ancient mysteries and monsters! What more do you need?

I loved the older protagonist with a traumatic past and PTSD coming out of retirement for one last mission into an ancient tomb complex constructed by a vanished people. Dread and Lovecraftian horror rubs shoulders with heroics, excitement and lighter moments.
Adam Carter
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantasy fans, take note. Mike Shel has created something astounding.

Aching God, on the surface and based on the cover description, is a fantasy novel about a D&D-style party adventuring into a dungeon.

Within the first chapter it becomes clear this book is so much more than first expected.

I always find fantasy novels difficult to review. I'm not entirely sure why. I believe it has to do with scope. I feel my own words inadequate to describe my love for a genre of books generally epic and sprawlin
Marcus Turner
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow burn, but great read

I absolutely loved the rich, complex world Shel had created, fleshed out by richly detailed characters and factions. A world of intrigue, mystery and dark enigma that scream further storytelling, I cannot wait to read the follow-up "Sin-Eater".
"Aching God" is very slow burn, a bit dragged out in the middle setting up, but the climax was well worth it. I did feel the ending was a tad abrupt ( without being a cliffhanger) but I am still very excited to continue this series
The Aching God was a fantastic book. I'd heard some really good things about it but hadn't had a chance to read it, so when the audiobook released last week I jumped on it straight away. First off, Simon Vance does an amazing job with the narration. Second, Mike Shel does a fantastic job writing the book.

The Aching God is set in a world where people frequently visit ancient temples to find treasure and ancient artifacts. One such expedition bought back an ancient artifact which is now causing a
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Mike Shel (not his real name) was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1964 and grew up in the suburb of Dearborn, the hometown of Henry Ford, genius industrialist and virulent anti-Semite nutjob. Mike has also lived in southern Illinois, Louisville, Kentucky, Atlanta, Georgia, and now Indianapolis, Indiana. After writing two adventures for Dungeon Magazine in the early 90s, he crawled down a deep, dark h ...more

Other books in the series

Iconoclasts (3 books)
  • Sin Eater (Iconoclasts, #2)
  • Idols Fall

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