Monday, September 12, 2011

11 PM Book Review: Servant of the Underworld

Servant of the Underworld, by Aliette de Bodard, is a noir murder mystery set in Aztec governed Central America. Acatl, a priest of the god of the dead, is tasked to investigate the abduction of a priestess whom his brother might have been having an affair with. The abduction was performed with bloody magic. So is the investigation: every time Acatl casts a spell, he must fuel it with the blood of whatever or whomever is nearby, often his own. The investigation leads to a plot amongst the priests of out of favor gods, who hope to end the current world and bring a new one into place. Bloodily, of course.

I liked the strong voice of Acatl. He is level headed, an-histrionic in the extreme, yet his personality really comes through in the conflicts with his family, who have problems with his deciding to be a low status priest instead of a high status warrior, and his desire to avoid the politics that are a part of his job. I also liked the fact that Servant of the Underworld used an uncommon set of myths for its background. The competing temples of the Aztec gods, and the various supernatural entities associated with, make for some tasty fantasy. Despite the ancient setting, the noir sensibility gives it a very modern feeling. My one problem is that Aztec names are a mouthful with a capital M, slowing down my already slow reading speed a bunch.


mwlucas said...

Your reviews make me buy books. Do keep doing them.


Lawrence said...

Thanks man. I will try. I'm finding my short formula reviews easier to handle.