Saturday, June 9, 2012

ARC Review: Obsidian and Blood: The Collected Acatl Novels by Aliette de Bodard

Title: Obsidian and Blood: The Collected       Acatl Novels
Author: Aliette De Bodard
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publishing Date: June 26, 2012
Format: print, ebook
Source: received from Netgalley for my honest review
ISBN:  9780857662378

This is an omnibus that holds the Obsidian and Blood trilogy, as well as 3 short stories available on the E book version.  These are the titles included in the trilogy as well as their summaries from Net Galley:

Servant of the Underworld
 Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, high priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Harbinger of the Storm
The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons – and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God’s power. The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.

Master of the House of Darts
 The year is Three Rabbit, and the storm is coming… The coronation war for the new Emperor has just ended in a failure, the armies retreating with a mere forty prisoners of war – not near enough sacrifices to ensure the favor of the gods. When one of those prisoners of war dies of a magical illness, Acatl, High Priest for the Dead, is summoned to investigate.

My Feelings:

Bodard creates a beautifully crafted world within the Aztec Empire.  We are transported back in time to a time that is already mystical to us.  But with the creativity that Bodard weaves within the history of the Aztecs, we are the lucky few to walk among gods, goddesses, magical entities, and our narrator, Acatl, as we delve deeper into this rich civilization.
I was immensely drawn to this book just by the cover alone.  It is amazingly dark, eerie, and mystical.  Acatl, standing in the moonlight, shadowed like a savior in the night.  
But then when I read the summary of the stories, I was floored.  I haven't read many stories that go into the Aztec Empire so deeply and then combining  the magic of the priests, the gods and goddesses they worshiped as well as intertwining the beasts of our imaginations into the story; this was brilliant! 
Our narrator and protagonist, Acatl, High Priest for the Dead, is a very complex character.  He is honest, simple, and enjoys being in the shadows, instead of at the forefront of the politics involved around him.  He is also the one that tends to have the option of solving the crimes associated with death.  
There were times, though, I thought Acatl acted more naive than a High Priest should be.  I wanted to shout at him: "Man it is right in front of you!!"  But I understood his confusion added to the story to tie everything in together.  
There are other characters that we are introduced to that come to hinder Acatl and others that are there merely to help him, whether he realizes it or not.  
Besides Acatl, I had two other favorites suprisingly.

Mihmatini, Acatl's sister, plays a huge part in these stories and she is gutsy, fiery, and a woman definitely ahead of her time.  She is a strong female character that could teach many of these men a thing or two about saving the world.

Nezahual-tzin, the Revered Speaker of Texcoco, similar to a king of an neighboring town, and also an agent of the God of the Feathered Serpent.  He is proud, powerful, and smarter than anyone thinks.  I know he is in it for his own means, but he proves to be more of an ally.  Also, he is a ladies man and I think I fell for his charms as well.

These stories are dark and mixed with plenty of sacrifices.  There is blood and gore in some areas, but only added to the stories showing the reader how these people worshiped and lived in a place that was heavily shaded with magic.  
Surprisingly, many of the problems that Acatl and the others have to deal with  can still be found in our systems today.  Murder, betrayal, love, and even political upstarts run common in both worlds.  

I enjoyed these stories very much and I noticed as I read the momentum of doom would build as my heartbeat would race in time with our characters trying to save the world from evil.  
I have to give this omnibus 5 hearts!

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