I suppose a handy useful fact to get out of the way is that “Clay” is the name of the main character. So, this isn’t a god made of clay, but rather Clay’s god.

Past that, this is the first part of what’s turned into a fairly epic trilogy (each book has gotten noticeably longer). As with many such, it starts simply enough. Clay is the sober and responsible one of his three brothers, and this leads to trouble as he tries to reign in his brother Laughing Dog. And this sends them both on separate journeys that define the plot.

Clay’s tribe has been through much recently, but that is slow to be revealed in the novel, this helps helps you realize that changes have been coming in this world for a while and it’s just now that the role of the gods are becoming much more direct in these people’s lives again. So, not stating that earlier is a small flaw, though it’s more because it is so focused on the personal side.

Also, it’s obvious that a lot of background has grown organically as the story has expanded. A lot is fairly indeterminate here. The People live on the savanna, next to a large forest. They’re a fairly simple tribe, without a lot of outside contact. We do find out that there are people living well outside of this context, but we’ve only gotten a glimpse or two, and don’t know what the world at large is like. Is this Earth plus gods, or something different? It’s hard to say, though as the books go on, it’s easier to say that this isn’t any version of Earth, though it is certainly taking from sub-Saharan traditions (from what I can tell with my minuscule knowledge of such). The characters on the other hand are all well-realized, and bring this half-unseen world to life around them.

In all, this is a very good, unusual, fantasy. And while it is ‘part one’, it also comes to a very good stopping point. Do note that there is a gay relationship here, which starts getting closer to ‘explicit’ as the books goes on. This isn’t ‘erotica’, but gets pretty close in the next two books, while it’s much tamer here.