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Blackdog by K.V. Johansen is a new epic fantasy that centers on remote mountain goddess, Attalissa, and her protector, Otokas. Otokas is an old warrior possessed by the mad spirit of The Blackdog whose single goal is to protect his goddess.

Attalissa is currently embodied as a young child and even when she gets older, she is not expected to be as all powerful as other gods and goddesses which is a nice switch compared to many fantasies I have read. She has no grand design to take over or protect the entire world; just her villages and people are of her and Otokas' concern. Unfortunately, a warlord and his army have arrived on their land and invade. They must flee to keep Attalissa from being `devoured". This sets in motion events that will cause the spirit of the Blackdog to be passed on to a new warrior from a foreign land who was travelling nearby. The story begins with lots of action and world building that keeps you fascinated as the author brings in various other supporting characters to organize a resistance/rebellion while they wait on the goddess to grow into her powers. Their backgrounds and choices of all the characters were interesting with long-term ramifications that each must deal with while trying to defeat Tamghat. An interesting and unique spin on a goddess who must grow into her powers and help her people while having her new protector learn to cope with the madness of the Blackdog persona. Recommended for fans of epic fantasy with more of an Eastern twist to the gods/goddess mythology in fantasy. I would give it four stars as it kept me reading all night long instead of sleeping which is one of the best compliments I can give a book.

Book Blurb for Blackdog

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 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. Possessed and nearly driven mad by the Blackdog, Holla-Sayan flees to the desert road, taking the powerless avatar with him.

Necromancy, treachery, massacres, rebellions, and gods dead or lost or mad, follow hard on the their heels. But it is Attalissa herself who may be the Blackdog’s—and Holla-Sayan’s—doom.

Night Owl Reviews Oct, 2011 4.00