Tuesday 23 March 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: Servant of the Underworld - Aliette De Bodard


Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, High Priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead. Aliette De Bodard is the hottest rising star in world SF and Fantasy, blending ancient crimes with wild imagination. This is her debut novel.


When you tend to pick up a fantasy book you feel that pretty much everything has probably been tackled in one form or another before now. So when a new concept appears its much cause for celebration and whilst I’d only heard of this author via Angry Robot’s blog saying that a chance encounter gave them this title we thought it was worth a look. So what did we get for our time?

In short a tale of murder, mystery tied up with an interesting historical perspective of the mesoamerican civilisations as a High Priest has his Blood Rite is interrupted. Add to the tale a good handful of magic and the human reactions to dealing with their deities backed up in a similar style to Ariana Franklin and you’ve got a pretty good tale to play with. What seriously lets this tale down is the dislikeable principle protagonist who I really couldn’t get my hooks into or support which made that part of it a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, the overall arc was cracking but without a character I can get on with it makes any book a struggle. I’m hoping that future offerings fix this minor oversight as the sheer believability and research within seems sadly let down by poor character development. Still a good book to read but for that one niggle it could be one of the best.

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