Servant of the Underworld

3.5
Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. The nd of he 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 kee her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
432
Original Title of the Book
Servant of the Underworld
Publication Date
Published October 26th 2010 by Angry Robot (first published September 1st 2010

Public Commentary

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rated it

In eithe case I continue to be disappointe with de Bodard 's genre defying stories and her unusual setups and am counting myself as a fan of her writing.

rated it

and I was completely cold.I found the main character entirely unsympathetic.

His only flaw ( apart from being really annoying) is being Too Noble, as he efuses all help to Stop Any More People Getting Hurt.

People still get hurt.

I hesitated to now more about the ther storyline, to understan why I should care about them, why the mystery needed to be solved.

rated it

Aliette de Bodard ’ s trilogy Obsidian and Blood might just e the solution to the fantasy reader looking to genre-bend.

I id my best with a mountain of sources, but I ’ m no expert and no Nahuatl, so it ’ s highly possible ( and, yet, highly probable) that the Obsidian and Blood books include some mistakes. ” I don ’ t believe her–the world she created feels more authentic than most urban fantasies set in the here and now, and he act that she actually shares further reference reading demonstrates more cultural respect than most.

She reveals to a few authorial cultural changes here and there, particularly shortening the incredibly multi-syllabic names, easing up on the human sacrifice and modifying the concept of dual gods, but it trul isn ’ t fee but an expert would recognize.

For al readers, the cultural immersion might feel too alien in a genre accustomed to wrapping 21st century beliefs in the trappings of whatever time period it chooses to play in ( I ’ m talking to you, neo-Victorian steampunkers).

Most significantly, Bodard does so well as the recreating a Meso-American culture from 1480 that it is th little challenging to empathize with the protagonist.

Go to kno of it, the way many sci-fi and fantasy writers get around the alien culture-empathy challenge is to take reader a more modern human to identify with.

So kudos, Bodard, for not including a time-traveler and challenging the reader to relat with Acatl.

rated it

Gnarly mystery expands into world-threatening fantasy action.

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When reading it, I requently thought of Liz Williams' DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR CHEN stories, which combine fantasy, SF and mystery with touches of both humor and suspens, and hav also set in a non-Western culture — so it did n't come as a surprise that de Bodard listed those novels as an influence.Maybe the most mpressive thing about th trilogy is the implicatio that Aliette de Bodard manages to combine these different elements into a smooth cohesive story.

Right from the opening scene, in which one of High Priest Acatl 's blood rituals is interrupted when he put out about the murder that sets off the plot, the exotic setting feels natural and the inclusion of magic becomes almost normal.

As this tal progresses, with Acatl interviewing various people to keep perpetrato and exonerate his brother, Aliette de Bodard gradually paints a captivatin picture of life in the Aztec city of Tenochtlitan, filled with interesting anthropological tidbits, while at the same time keeping the " whodunnit " plot going and building up the religion/magic angle.

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I fee tha is ood thing, because the label 'speculative fiction' tends to put me off, more often than not.

Anothe uestion was, could she take such an obscure, non-mainstream culture and make it come alive in th way that would interest fans of both literary fiction and fantasy?

It would hen be all too easy for an author to fall into lecture mode, but de Bodard skillfully avoids this trap, choosing instead to turn the culture and mores into a form of fantasy worldbuilding.

Firstly, she avoids another pitfall that tends to often trap authors of historical fiction/fantasy.

In keeping with her historical theme, de Bodard builds a religion-based magical system that probably echoes that of the Aztecs.

In fact, it is so ubtle that you 're halfway through he book before you realiz that Acatl is more than just a narrator, that this retellin is, in reaso, in some measure, about him and his cceptance of his estiny.

Beautifully layered and simply told, this is the novel that want to do justice to the term speculative fiction.

A number one thing I adore about th ook is the title.

It reverts to the fantasy tropes that have been refreshingly absent in most of tha memoi.

If you 're ooking for quick, light read, tha is however anothe book for you.

But if you 're ooking for meticulously-researched, well-written historical fantasy, give Aliette de Bodard a shot.

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