Happy All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days! I love long weekends! This time I was able to read Karen Miller’s Godspeaker Trilogy.
Godspeaker 1: Empress
A slave trader chooses to purchase the beautiful but savage Hekat and treats her nicely, a far cry from how she and her mother were treated by her animalistic father. She gives her love and trust to the trader, but when she learns that she was never more than a slave to him, she escapes and disfigures herself. She is recruited for warrior training one day by the warlord Raklion, and when she slays Raklion’s enemy, he takes her as his wife. By this time, Hekat has been hearing the voice of “the god,” as has the godspeaker Vortka, whom Hekat treated kindly when they were both slaves. The god instructed Hekat to go to Vortka one night, and she bore the impotent Raklion the child Zandakar, who became the “Hammer of God,” destined to subdue all of Mijak in the name of the god. She eventually also gets herself impregnated by the high godspeaker, whom she kills. She gives birth to Dmitrak, whom she hates from day one. Zandakar eventually falls in love with a woman from a tribe whom the universal god instructed Zandakar to spare. Zandakar will not know until the end of Book 3 the difference between the voices of these two gods. [SPOILER ALERT] Furious, Hekat kills the woman’s child, Dmitrak kills the woman, and Hekat banishes Zandakar.
I give this novel 4 stars out of 5. I especially liked the development of Hekat’s character, from lowly slave to exalted empress, and from a Joan of Arc-like warrior who carried the message of the universal god, to the deranged puppet of a blood-lustful local god.
Godspeaker 2: The Riven Kingdom
When the Ethrean king dies, the Prolate Marlan attempts to wed the underage Princess Rhiana to his autistic nephew in order to place both the Church and the state under his command. Rhiana escapes with the help of royal toymaker, Dexterity Jones, who was instructed by his dead wife’s shade, Hettie, to purchase and nurse the almost dead Zandakar to health. Rhian weds childhood friend, Duke Alasdair, and is proclaimed queen by her chaplain, Helfred. On their way to reclaim her kingdom, Rhian is tutored in the Mijaki martial arts (called hotas) by Zandakar, while Jones is used several times by the universal god so that he burns without burning, and is capable of healing and even resurrecting the dead. [SPOILER ALERT] When Marlan blocks Rhian’s group from entering her family’s land, and grasps the burning Jones’ hand, he himself is turned to ashes. The miraculous Jones then installs Rhian as queen and Helfred as Prolate.
I give this novel 3 stars out of 5. The story of Rhian, from princess to unlikely queen, is rather common and therefore boring. Only Zandakar and Dexterity are interesting here.
Godspeaker 3: Hammer of God
Queen Rhian faces two threats, and Zandakar plays a key role in both. The first threat is from a couple of dukes who refuse to acknowledge her queenship. With Zandakar as her hotas tutor, Rhian kills the dukes in judicial combat. The second threat is from Hekat and Dmitrak, whose advances have so far been checked by the wind magic of the Tzung, one of the trade allies of Ethrea. The Tzung emperor Han and his brother transport Zandakar and Dexterity so that they are able to convince Vortka that destroying Ethrea and its allies is not the will of the true god. When the demented Hekat resorts to sacrificing thousands of slaves to the Mijaki god, however, the Tzung are thwarted, as were Ethrea’s allies, who assemble their armada too late, and Hekat and Dmitrak land on Ethrean shores, despite the impotent warnings of Vortka. [SPOILER ALERT] After much havoc, Hekat slays Vortka, and is herself slain by Dmitrak, who is slain by Zandakar when Rhian places herself in harm’s way. Zandakar returns to Mijak with Dexterity (Hettie’s wishes).
I give this novel 3 stars out of 5. One doesn’t feel the two threats to be threatening at all. The irritable dukes are dispatched so easily, and the Mijakis are never really able to go beyond the shores of Ethrea. Only Vortka is interesting here.