Paternus: Rise of Gods by Dyrk Ashton fantasy book reviewsPaternus: Rise of Gods by Dyrk Ashton fantasy book reviewsPaternus: Rise of Gods by Dyrk Ashton

Paternus: Rise of Gods (2016) is described in the first line of its Amazon page as being “American Gods meets the X-Men,” which isn’t a bad five-and-a-hyphen word summary, really. By the time you get to “Sumerian/Akkadian/Greek/Aztec/Norse/etc./etc./etc., gods are really all the same people and they’re the children of a guy who’s like Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2,” you’ve more than lost in brevity and wit what you’ve made up for in accuracy. Still, gaining in accuracy is worth something, and since I have more than five words of space available, well, that’s my one-sentence summary of the background of the book. The central conceit of the story is that the divine figures of human history are the children of the Paternus of the title and females of various species — tanuki, cows, dinosaurs, leeches, Homo habilus, and pretty much any other species that has ever existed on earth. As you might expect, they do not all get along, their past conflicts have been cataclysmic, and some of them are now laying plans to finish off their father and siblings for good.

The story is told from several points of view, including a number of the “gods,” but we enter the world of Paternus principally through the eyes of Fiona Patterson, an eighteen-year-old living an ordinary life in Ohio. She goes to school, she worries her eccentric English uncle Edgar by coming home late, volunteers at the hospital, she has an awkward “will we or won’t we?” relationship with her fellow volunteer Zeke — so far so normal. Until the day she goes to the hospital and it ends up being attacked by a small army of vampires, werewolves, and “gods” intent on capturing one of the patients.

And from there it’s just about all fight scenes, with intermittent exposition to explain who people really are. And if you’re a big mythology buff, like Zeke, you’ve heard of them. Even if you’re not a big mythology buff, like Fiona, you’ve still heard of many of them.

Paternus: Rise of Gods is a very lively book — it’s obvious that Mr. Ashton enjoyed writing it, and he conveys his enthusiasm effectively. The narrative is strong and carries the reader well. On the minus side, I felt like the story would have been stronger with less exposition and somewhat tighter action scenes. We get the idea that Person A, who we’re being introduced to, is actually God X from the Greek pantheon and also God Y from the Sumerian pantheon and also God Z from the Norse pantheon pretty quickly, and it doesn’t feel necessary to give the details each time. We’re also sometimes given a fairly elaborate introduction to a character who is summarily dispatched, which is always a bit deflating. The characterization tends to bas-relief, although given that the characters are deliberate mirrors of great Jungian archetypes it only makes sense that they should feel familiar and easily categorized.

Overall I found Paternus: Rise of Gods entertaining and worth picking up, especially if you enjoy the modern mythology style of American Gods et al., and I look forward to reporting on Book Two of the PATERNUS trilogy, Wrath of Gods, which was published in June 2018.

~Nathan Okerlund

Paternus: Rise of Gods by Dyrk Ashton fantasy book reviewsI read the audio version of Paternus: Rise of Gods a couple of years ago as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO). Here’s what I said:

Paternus: Rise of Gods is a wild ride. The story, which takes place all in one day (a day that, had I been the protagonist, I surely would not have survived due to extreme emotional and physical exhaustion), is about Fi and Zeke, a couple of young adults who work in a nursing home and get caught up in a war between gods and mythical creatures from just about every religion and pantheon you can think of. These folks are the “Firstborn,” all descendants of the Paternus who was the first man ever born. They’ve been fighting each other for millennia and now Fi and Zeke are caught up in their war. All humanity is at risk. This imaginative story, which is action-packed. exciting, and often gruesome, reminded me of Scott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char.

Paternus Audible Audiobook – Unabridged Dyrk Ashton (Author), Nik Magill (Narrator), Paternus Books Media (Publisher)Dyrk Ashton’s writing is rich and vibrant — at a higher level than any of the other books I’ve read for SPFBO. It’s got a few quirks that I’d like to see edited out such as the present tense voice, some head-hopping, a few too-long infodumps, and the Gary-Stu-ness of Zeke. I also think it’s too ambitious as far as the number of religions, legends, and myths Ashton managed to pack into one novel. Many readers will love this aspect of the story because it gives it a sense of epicness, but to me it felt a bit cluttered. I rarely say something like this, but I would have preferred for the story in Paternus: Rise of Gods to be spread over two novels and to take up more than one day in the lives of our heroes. But I suspect many of Ashton’s fans will disagree with me on that.

For a debut, Paternus: Rise of Gods is mighty impressive and bodes well for Ashton’s future writing career. (He simply needs to level down instead of level up, in my opinion.) I certainly expect to be seeing Dyrk Ashton’s name on some books in my local bookstore someday. His work deserves a mainstream publisher.

Paternus: Rise of Gods seems to be the only SPFBO book available in audio format. I read the second half of the book that way and enjoyed Nik Magill‘s narration. Paternus: Rise of Gods is 15 hours long in audio format

~Kat Hooper

Published in 2016. Even myths have legends. And not all legends are myth. When a local hospital is attacked by strange and frightening men, Fiona Patterson and Zeke Prisco save a catatonic old man named Peter — and find themselves running for their lives with creatures beyond imagination hounding their every step. With nowhere else to turn, they seek out Fi’s enigmatic Uncle Edgar. But the more their questions are answered, the more they discover that nothing is what it seems — not Peter, not Edgar, perhaps not even themselves. The gods and monsters, heroes and villains of lore — they’re real. And now they’ve come out of hiding to hunt their own. In order to survive, Fi and Zeke must join up with powerful allies against an ancient evil that’s been known by many names and feared by all. The final battle of the world’s oldest war has begun. Paternus: Rise of Gods is the critically acclaimed debut novel by Dyrk Ashton, and the first book in the Paternus Trilogy. Hailed as thrilling, cinematic, funny and frightening, it’s been described as Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and Contemporary Epic Fantasy, as well as Mythic and New Weird Fiction, and compared to works by such diverse figures as Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, Roger Zelazny, Clive Cussler, China Miéville, Scott Hawkins, Jeff VanderMeer, Rick Riordan, Michael Scott, Philip Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien, Grant Morrison, and Alan Moore.


  • Nathan Okerlund

    Unbeknownst to all, including himself, NATHAN OKERLUND has been preparing for the role of "reviewer of fantasy novels" since he first read Watership Down thirty-odd years ago. He is especially fond of Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, Steven Brust, Neil Gaiman, and books that have to be read twice to be understood at all, but will happily read anything which does not actually attempt to escape the nightstand. When not occupied with the fantastic he takes brains apart to see how they work, as a postdoctoral fellow studying neurodegeneration, and supports his wife and daughter in their daily heroics.

  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.