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The Leopard by K. V. Johansen
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The Leopard

by K. V. Johansen

Series: Marakand (1)

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It started off nicely. A woman is searching for an assassin because her goddess told her to. And I will start with that. I liked this world, there are Gods and Goddesses everywhere, every spring, lake and river. A very old sort of religion. There are also wizards in this worlds, and a few devils that has come into the world. Nasty beings. There is also talk of demons as we meet a half demon.A lot to work with. A world of clans, fights and citystates

Ok so that is the world so far. Deyandara is the woman riding to find her assassin. Her story was interesting and I liked her. Ahjvar is the assassin and his story is even more interesting. He has some serious issues. He has a servant called Ghu who I at first did not think much about but then he grew on me. I really wonder what he is about.

And then there were more! Yes I would have liked to follow these along but suddenly a lot more sprung up and I did not see much or any of them. I did miss them with that and I will not you about the rest cos some things can be secrets.

The book takes place mostly in Marakand. A city where old Gods fell and the Lady become the prime Goddess. But who is the Lady, she was not like that before. It's a city where her soldiers are to be feared, a city where something is wrong.

Conclusion:
An interesting start. A war is coming too, I do like war. And what will happen to Marakand? ( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
Four stars for me, but I can't help but think that readers who haven't read Blackdog will be hopelessly confused in the second half. This book starts out with three new narrators and ends up being told from the perspectives of multiple characters from Blackdog, all of whom have elaborate stories. I definitely suggest picking up Blackdog first, if you haven't yet. ( )
  eaterofwords | Nov 16, 2014 |
The Leopard was a really tough book to rate and as I sit down to write this review, I find myself waffling back and forth on my thoughts. For one thing, I did not expect the unconventional structure, effectively dividing the novel into two separate parts. Because The Leopard is also the first installment of a duology, with the bulk of the story still left untold in book two, it’s also hard to decide how I really feel based on what happened here alone.

After the prologue, we are introduced to Deyandara, a bastard tribal princess who suddenly becomes her mother’s sole heir when everyone else in the family was murdered. But before this news even has the chance to settle, Deyandara is made messenger to the goddess Catairanach, who sends her on a quest to seek out the assassin known as the Leopard. Said assassin, whose true name is Ahjvar, is a cursed man who only wants to die, taking his burden to the grave. However, Deyandara’s message from the goddess changes all that. If he accepts her mission to kill the mad prophet known as the Voice of Marakand, Catairanach promises to free him from his curse. Along with his companion the escaped slave Ghu, Ahj sets off to perform this one final task.

Then we reach Part Two of the novel, which features a whole cast of different characters, apparently bringing back some of the familiar faces for those who have read Blackdog, an earlier novel based in K.V. Johansen’s world of the Marakand. We don’t get to see much (or anything) of Deyandara, Ahjvar or Ghu again. I don’t even know what more I can say beyond that, since Part Two also really lost me, and I found myself struggling through the rest of the novel. The truth is, while I ate up Part One, I practically had to force myself through Part Two, and almost had to throw in the towel. I spent most of the time trying to care about Moth, Mikki, and the other new characters, but never quite managed.

Though it is not necessary to read Blackdog first before tackling The Leopard, I wonder if I would have enjoyed this second part more if I had. At the very least, I think I would have felt more of a connection to the characters, this group of mysterious shapeshifters and otherworldly beings whose convoluted activities only seem to have a tenuous link to the storyline I read in Part One. In Part Two we see that Ahj’s activities have resulted in some rather strong ripples, but I still found it hard to stay focused since all the while Ahjvar, Deyandara and Ghu remained ever present in the back of my mind. It wasn’t long until I realized I wish I could have been reading about them instead.

This book won’t be for everyone; because of the vast difference in my feelings for the two different story lines, I still wonder if it is for me. Johansen’s style also takes getting used to. She clearly loves detail, but it’s a double-edged sword. The wonderful descriptions that made Part One such a vivid and scintillating experience also made Part Two feel lagging and tedious – though no doubt this has a lot to do with how effectively each story line captured my attention. My love of the setting was a constant, however; I’m a big fan of sword and sorcery set in Middle Eastern and Eastern influenced worlds, and Johansen’s writing is perfect for bringing this environment to life.

The world of Marakand really is quite lovely, and I enjoy its people, cultures and magic. But it wasn’t enough, because ultimately the main issue I had with this book was its structure. It’s one thing to weave two different storylines in tandem, it’s quite another to place a very distinct split in the middle of a novel. I put a lot of stock in characters and I’m usually extremely averse to the idea of drastic changes in players or perspective, so I don’t think this book worked for me – but it might for you. ( )
  stefferoo | Jun 10, 2014 |
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Ahjvar, the assassin known as the Leopard, wants only to die, to end the curse that binds him to a life of horror. Although he has no reason to trust the goddess Catairanach or her messenger Deyandara, fugitive heir to a murdered tribal queen, desperation leads him to accept her bargain: if he kills the mad prophet known as the Voice of Marakand, Catairanach will free him of his curse. Accompanying him on his mission is the one person he has let close to him in a lifetime of death, a runaway slave named Ghu. Ahj knows Ghu is far from the half-wit others think him, but in Marakand, the great city where the caravan roads of east and west meet, both will need to face the deepest secrets of their souls, if either is to survive the undying enemies who hunt them and find a way through the darkness that damns the Leopard.

To Marakand, too, come a Northron wanderer and her demon verrbjarn lover, carrying the obsidian sword Lakkariss, a weapon forged by the Old Great Gods to bring their justice to the seven devils who escaped the cold hells so long before.
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"Assassins, hunters, spies and once ordinary folk find themselves caught up in the machinations of small gods and powerful demons in a land where every hill, stream and valley has a spark of the divine"--

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