Friday, August 26, 2005

50 Book Challenge #44: Dark of the Gods

This book was passed on to me by another SF-loving blogger with an elliptical reference to the main character's constant encounters with minor disasters and my own rather fraught path through life. Jame (not to be confused with James King or Jame Gumb) is followed by bad luck wherever she goes, can't remember years of her past (nice trick for easy exposition, that), and has a single objective: to deliver her crazy father's sword and ring to her ten-years-older twin brother. Unfortunately, he's on the other side of the continent, doesn't like her much, and the instruments of the universe-warping Perimal Darkling (just as bad as it sounds) appear to be following her. Is she escaping them or fulfilling her destiny as their instrument? Not even Jame can tell.

There are some pleasant diversions into the theology of the world as Jame tarries in Tai-tastigon (which I could not read without a snicker: Tasti D-lite, anyone?) and experiments with the mechanics of belief. As a monotheist, she seems remarkably blase about proving the existence of other gods than hers, but then her people, the Kencyrath, apparently have a hate/hate relationship with their god, and so perhaps this muffles what might otherwise be a striking revelation. All this god-stalking is mostly irrelevant to the main plotline, though, as Jame inches closer to reunion with her brother, who fears her for her inherited powers and has secrets of his own.

All in all, this book was an amusing and well-written introduction to a rather conventional fantasy world with some interesting twists. My only gripe was the relative absence of deaths; maybe I've been spoiled by George R.R. Martin's penchant for hammering the reader with the unexpected demise of a lead character or five, but I kept expecting serious emotional impact and then being disappointed when Jame's friends and allies yet again escaped from dire peril. Beware, fantasy author, the temptation to never kill off a character. That way madness and Robert Jordanism lies.
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