"The Sundering" is a two volume fantasy novel by Jacqueline Carey, most famous for the Kushiel's Legacy series. The books two volumes, "Banewreaker" and "Godslayer" were published in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The two volumes seem to be separated mostly for publishing and marketing reasons, since they form one unified story.
The book takes place in a world called "Uru-Alat", formed from a "world god" of the same name. After Uru-Alat died, seven "Shapers", demiurges with various powers, formed his body into the world, as well as creating "The Lesser Shapers", including the Ellyon, beautiful immortal beings, humans, dwarves, and Fjeltroll. One of the Shapers, Satoris, rebels against his siblings, and is exiled and besieged, inside of a dark fortress. His enemies, mostly the Ellyon and humans, raise an army against him, and ride to a climactic battle. Meanwhile, a pair of small, humble humans must fulfill a prophecy by taking a magical item into Satoris' fortress, which will cause his downfall.
Does all of this sound familiar? It should, and I have even omitted several details that would make it even more clear that this is a pastiche of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings . Despite adding a few elements, such as werepeople, and changing a few elements, such as having dwarves be a peaceful, agricultural race instead of the traditional miners, this book is obviously meant to be a retelling of the Tolkien mythos. For the first few chapters, I was surprised at how blatant the plagiarism was, until realizing that the "plagiarism" was meant to be an obvious homage and deconstruction of Tolkien.
But the main difference in this book is that the "Rebel" god, Satoris, is not evil. Satoris' province is procreation and change, and his feud with the other gods comes from his refusal to withdraw the urge to multiply from humans. His older brother, Haomane, wishes for a staid, predictable world with his perfect servants, the Ellyon, in charge, and Satoris' influence on men is a disruption to that world. Although both sides show brutality in the war, neither one is truly "evil". The commander of Haomane's allies, Malthus (an adaptation of Gandalf) and the leader of Satoris' forces, Tanaros, can be both ruthless and honorable. The book works as a kind of tragedy of misunderstandings. The book is interesting in its examinations of the character's motives, and also works well as an adventure story.
I liked this book enough to read both volumes, even though I only bought the first volume by chance, because I needed some light reading while going on a trip. Carey certainly knows her Tolkien well, and manages all of this book's plot threads and characters. The only problem I have with this book is that being so much of a pastiche, there is little in it that was surprising to me. While the story was competently told, it seemed to lack a creative spark, perhaps because it was a retold story. But it does make me interested in reading Jacqueline Carey's other works.