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The God Stalker Chronicles by P. C. Hodgell

The God Stalker Chronicles (2009)

by P. C. Hodgell

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Includes God Stalk and Dark of the Moon:

God Stalk
My first book by this author, who's described as a "cult favorite." Never heard of her before, but I thought this was a quite entertaining fantasy in the classic vein (think Thieves' World) but with a vein of darker elements running through it... (maybe a little Storm Constantine, Tanith Lee, Meredith Ann Pierce...)
From the wilderness, the young woman Jame arrives at the city of Tai-Tastigon... unfortunately during the inauspicious night of the Feast of Dead Gods, when all sorts of formerly-worshipped horrors walk the streets freely.... Luckily, most of the rest of the time, the many gods of the mazelike city are safely "en-templed" (I LOVE the concept of having to keep your god locked up in its temple!)
Although Jame remembers little of where she came from, or what she has been doing for the last few years, she knows that she is one of the possibly-alien Kencyr, that her high-blooded family was killed, and she has a mission to find her brother, and restore the heirlooms that are his birthright to him. However, it seems a hopeless task, and Jame soon finds herself caught up in the complex life of the city - apprenticed to a master thief, and living at a bustling inn that unfortunately is being harassed by the competition next door... not to mention catching the interest of more than one man, and also being fascinated my the riddles of Tai-Tastigon's many gods...
A fun read, with a good mix of the classic and the original...

Dark of the Moon
In this sequel of "God Stalk," Hodgell follows her main character from that book, Jame, but the tone of the story changes drastically. "Dark of the Moon" is a much more 'epic'-feeling fantasy, as Jame returns to her mission to find her brother, whom she suspects is now High Lord of the Kencyr . So she sets forth with the 'giant' man, Marc, and her mind-bonded blind hunting cat, Jorin, and much questing and adventure ensues...
Meanwhile, her brother, Torisen, is indeed High Lord, and as such is dealing with much political maneuvering, as Kencyr society is bound by all kinds of strict traditions and rigid ideas about honor... which can get in the way of dealing with issues that come up, such as shape-changing impostors, assassins, power-hungry rivals, not to mention the rumors of a three-million-strong, half-human cannibal horde about to overrrun civilized lands...
Well-done fantasy but I have to admit that I missed the more intimate tone of the first book, as well as the intriguing setting of the city of Tai-Tastigon. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
1 - God Stalk

Jame, her past a confusion of memories, stumbles out of the Haunted Lands in a desperate race for the human city of Tai-Tastigon.

Jame is a Kencyrath; they are blessed with traits like endurance and a fierce sense of honour, and chosen by the Three-Faced God to defend the Chain of Creation (of which the world of Rathillien is part) from the encroachments of Perimal Darkling.

She knows that her home in the Haunted Lands has been invaded and destroyed. Her goal is to cross the Ebonbane Mountains to reach the rest of the Kencyrath in the hopes of finding her twin brother, Tori. In Tai-Tastigon, however, she has to recover from her injuries, and then finds herself with obligations that her sense of honour won't let her abandon. Amongst these, she finds herself offered the coveted apprenticeship to Penari, a Master Thief - which rather tests that sense of honour - which gives her entry into the Thieves Guild, and all its convoluted politics.

All of these entail a delay of over a year, waiting for the snow to clear from the passes of the Ebonbane, but Jame finds scrapes and adventures aplenty to occupy her time. The Res aB'tyrr inn took her in when she was injured, but has troubles of its own, and could use her help; especially when she discovers that she can dance the Senetha, a Kencyr dance which holds its audience in thrall. The Lower Town is infested with dead gods, which shakes Jame's monotheist beliefs, so she uses her time to conduct experiments. Along the way, she makes good friends as well as enemies, and loses some, too.

I really liked this book; it is richly detailed and intensely written, and has those odd flashes of humour that I love. You get caught up in the half-hidden mysteries to be resolved; not least of these is the one of Jame's past, which keeps coming back to haunt her - and us. I'm looking forward to discovering the truth in the rest of the books in the series.

Five stars. Recommended.

2 - Dark of the Moon

This, book two of the Chronicles of the Kencyrath, forms the second half of the omnibus, The God Stalker Chronicles.

Jame, having fulfilled her obligations in Tai-Tastigon, can now leave for the Riverlands of the Kencyrath together with Marc, another Kencyr, and her blind golden ounce, Jorin. However, circumstances dictate that they leave precipitately and they have to cross the deadly pass over the Ebonbane mountains in the teeth of winter, which no-one has even attempted before.

Meanwhile, Jame's twin brother Tori, whom she is desperately seeking to hand over the hereditary ring and sword of their father, has problems of his own. In spite of missing these artefacts, he has been accepted as Highlord of the Kencyrath and has administered them peaceably, although some of the Highborn lords have their own agenda. Now the Kencyrarth have received word that the Hoard which endlessly circles the Southern Waste has broken the circle and is heading for the Riverlands, so he must first convince the lords to march against them, and then lead the badly outnumbered Kencyr Host into battle.

The pieces of the missing years of Jame's past start to fall into place as changers, those high Kencyr turned to evil by the fallen Master of Knorth, appear outside Perimal Darkling hunting Jame and involving themselves in the matters of the Kencyr.

The strength of Perimal Darkling on Rathillien is growing. If the thin crescent doesn't rise after the dark of the moon, the Kencyr will know that the moon has been swallowed and this world, too, has finally fallen.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first. Though the detail and richness might have been a bit less intense than in God Stalk (but this could just be that the vivid personality of the city of Tai-Tastigon was - necessarily - missing), the action was fast-paced, with Jame, Tori and their friends leaping from one fraught situation to the next as they battled unknown enemies. I liked the quirks of fantasy, such as a tree whose leaves swarmed to more temperate climes for the winter, and the humorous touches of the first book are still present. For example, after a battle against supernatural creatures during which her companion, Marc, has been lost, Jame is on trial by the Arrin-ken of the Kencyrath for her soul when she is interrupted:

Jame stared at the great cat. She must say something - yes, no - but her mind had gone completely blank.

Then there was a sound behind her. A hand came up over the edge of the crevasse and fumbled for a hold. Before the other one could appear, clutching a double headed war-axe, Jame was on her knees grabbing for Marc's sleeve.

"Sorry it took me so long," he said apologetically, hauling himself up. "I heard you call, but I'd just landed on a scrap of a ledge down there and had the breath knocked out of me. Then it rained fire. Then a wyrsa fell on me - or at least I think it was a wyrsa. But what's happened here?"

I love Marc. He's not intentionally funny, but he's so placid and easy going, not much ruffles his equanimity. This was his summary dismissal of the last hour or so of intense life-and-death fighting.

And this one tickled me:

When Torisen had invited all the High Council to dinner tonight, Caineron had sent back word that he was indisposed.
"Not feeling quite in touch with things yet," his randon commander Sheth Sharp-Tongue had added with a sardonic smile.

It's not a big part of the story, by any means, but I found it funny. You'll have to read to the end of the book to find out why ;0)

Four and a half stars. Looking forward to the next book. Updating (May 2018) to five stars; this book definitely deserves it.

Five stars overall for the omnibus.

( )
1 vote humouress | Apr 20, 2013 |
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Jame, a Kencyrath, finds herself in Tai-tastigon, where she becomes involved with a thieves guild, discoving her true nature as the one chosen to battle the Perimal Darkling, and then journeys to the Cataracts to find her brother.

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