- ISBN-10: 0940841444
- ISBN-13: 978-0940841444
- Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 2.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
Hodgell writes with descriptive flair, a dark mood, and with a sense of humor that will be appreciated by anyone with a taste for the ironic. Her labyrinthian plot-lines recall her studies in Victorian literature. Her heroine Jame's issues range from amnesia, that most venerable of plot-devices, to a serious tussle with the nature of honor. (The Kencyrath -- Jame's people -- are so honorable it often kills.) She is an able fighter who has maintained her honor without being a comic-strip superhero. Hodgell is a wonderful world builder -- her city of Tai-Tastigon is as fully realized as any society and city in the genre.
I have noted that the second book, "Dark of the Moon", and, judging from the reviews I've found, "Seeker's Mask," are definitely continuations of the story begun in "God Stalk" rather than stories that may stand alone, so I would not recommend that readers begin with the second or third in the series. Most of the characters are not as fully fleshed out in the second book and I understand that this is more so in the third book. There are also some short stories that are connected with the stories of the Kencyrath and Jamethiel Priest's-Bane published in various anthologies and in limited runs by her smaller publishers -- some of them are available in out-of-print specialty stores.
Anyone working in the publishing industry reading this, I plead with you: please please please try to contract this series!
The story of "God Stalk" begins ten years later as Jame reappears in the Ebonbane Mountains, her last memory of her banishment from her home, her only thought to find her missing twin brother Tori. Instead of Tori and her family, however, she finds the city of Tai-Taistigon: a darkly colorful and fascinating place full of gods, demons, and the occasional trade war. In defiance of everything she has ever learned, the young Kencyr enters the Thieves' Guild under the tutelage of the Master Thief Penari, dances the sacred, spellbinding Senetha in a local inn, the Res aB'tyrr, and tests the limits of her monotheism in her wanderings through the Temple District of Tai-Tastigon. She encounters vivid characters such as Penari, the Master Thief (senile three-quarters of the time, but who's counting?), Loogan, priest of Gorgo the Lugubrious God (whom Jame first destroys and then resurrects. Oops), and the enigmatic Bane, a Kencyr like herself who gives up his soul to redeem his honor. And even the dead are active characters here.
This was one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read, and that's saying plenty, as I am a voracious reader. Tai-Taistigon is a compelling, complex world, full of adventure aplenty, darkness, humor, and even snatches of romance. A thirty-milennia history of the Kencyrath serves as a backdrop to Jame's actions, while the Holy (some might say god-ridden) City of Tai-Tastigon has its own complicated past, all linked to the present of the story by Jame's own awakening powers. The characters are three-dimensional and believable; even the people you hate have motives and reasons for what they do. Ishtier, the renegade priest, and Men-dalis, ruthless power-seeker in the Thieves' Guild, are self-serving and hateful characters, but even they are not cardboard cutouts. And Jorin, Jame's blind ounce (something like a leopard) is one of my favorite feline characters ever.
"God Stalk" and its two sequels, "Dark of the Moon" and "Seeker's Mask" are currently quite hard to find. ("God Stalk" and "Dark of the Moon" are out of print, while "Seeker's Mask" was never picked up by a major publisher.) All three can be found, however, as well as a collection of short stories about Jame; all are well worth the reading. The world of "God Stalk" is a little-known but excellent one, high fantasy at its finest, the book finely-written and entrancing.