Servant of the Underworld

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

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  • Title: Servant of the Underworld
  • Author: Aliette de Bodard
  • ISBN: 9780007346547
  • Page: 454
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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.

    One thought on “Servant of the Underworld”

    1. Looking for something besides medieval European-based fantasy? Too many werewolves just looking for love in your reading? Tired of airships and clockworks? (Note: I’m not even bringing up the zombie references, but yes, you can have too much of the walking dead). Aliette de Bodard’s trilogy Obsidian and Blood might just be the solution to the fantasy reader looking to genre-bend. The first book, Servant of the Underworld, is a fascinating stand-alone book, so don’t let commitment issues pr [...]

    2. Chalchiutlicue. Say that quickly ten times, without stumbling!I didn't read any reviews for Servant of the Underworld before I started. I think this is a good thing, because the label 'speculative fiction' tends to put me off, more often than not. Speculative fiction, that bastard child straddling the fence between literary fiction and genre fantasy, has pretensions of grandeur that tend to overwhelm the actual talent of the writer. That Aliette de Bodard knows her subject inside out is a given. [...]

    3. This was so different, really fascinating. Set in the pre-Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, we meet Alcatel, high priest of the dead. He is forced to investigate the death of a priestess in which his brother is implicated and becomes involved in a much bigger problem as a result. Really the story revolves around a battle between the old gods and the new, the survival of the fifth world at stake.It seemed slightly strange initially to have a murder mystery and investigator in such a tale, but [...]

    4. Servant of the Underworld by Writers of the Future winner Aliette de Bodard is an interesting and, especially for a debut, well-executed cross-genre novel that successfully combines several disparate elements into an original story.If ever a novel could be called cross-genre, Servant of the Underworld is it: the story is set in the 15th century Aztec empire (1. historical fiction) but magic and gods are real (2. fantasy). When a priestess is murdered, Acatl, the High Priest of the Dead, gets inv [...]

    5. I really wasn't sure about reading this. I read some of Aliette de Bodard's shorter fiction and wasn't very interested, and there's so much potential for creepy awful judginess -- or equally as bad, preachiness -- when it comes to a novel based on something like the Aztec/Mayan/Incan/Toltec world. Especially when the writer brings an essentially modern form of story to meld with it (in this case, detective/mystery). There's the danger of making your POV character too much the modern man, or wall [...]

    6. DNF. Sorry.Strike one:"The hunger in his eyes was palpable"Unless you usually gauge mood by poking people in the eye then no, it wasn't. Also when I tweeted it I had several people assume I was reading crappy erotica. That is not a good sign.Strike two:"Oh," giggled another poorly-developed female character, "politics! I'm so glad I'm a woman and don't have to think about that."[image error]Strike three: Actually, there was no specific strike three. I just realised that I didn't care any more. I [...]

    7. Two stars for the worldbuilding, which kept me reading despite feelings for the main character that wavered between apathy and antipathy. de Bodard's descriptions of the social and political arrangements of the Aztec Empire are really interesting. I wish the magic had been equally interesting, but alas it seems rather D&Dish, all shields and mage sight and magic bolts (albeit fueled by blood). I would have preferred something more numinous.Part of my frustration was that I went into this exp [...]

    8. I finished Servant of the Underworld the highly awaited novel debut of A. De Bodard and it's taking place in an Aztec state at some point in history - the afterword or more detailed knowledge of Aztec history indicates the date - there is magic of many kinds, intrigue, priests, warriors, "femme fatales" and a mystery of sorts through which we explore this wonderful universe.A first person narration by a semi-disillusioned "priest of the dead" and servant of the "duality" - which essentially mean [...]

    9. Acatl, high priest of the God of Death for the Mexica Empire (the civilization we know as the Azteks) is tasked with investigating the mysterious disappearance of a priestess, a case with a personal element for the priest as his warrior brother is the prime suspect. What starts as a mystery becomes something very different as Acatl uncovers secrets that threaten the entire empire and, maybe, the world.There's a very big fantasy element to this story, one I wasn't expecting. Basically, the gods a [...]

    10. 4 Stars Servant of the Underworld is a good fantasy and a fun start to a new series. It fails to receive full marks from me as I loathed the character names and places. They were ridiculous to me and it doesn't even matter to me if they were fitting to the time period fiction.There are some exceptional aspects to this novel. Aliette de Bodard has created a fictional world that feels more like a non-fiction history piece. I loved the world building, the exotic setting, and the blood magic. The ch [...]

    11. It took me forever to read Servant of the Underworld, and I don’t know why. It’s great. Aliette de Bodard has created a mystery set in the Mexica (Aztec) Empire in 1480. As a long-lived emperor under whom the Mexica have prospered lies on his deathbed, Acatl, a priest of the dead, finds himself investigating a murder or abduction where his estranged brother is the prime suspect. And rather than making this a straight-up historical mystery, like the fantastic Falco series by Lindsey Davis, de [...]

    12. Angry Robot provides cheeky but helpful classifications on the jackets of their books; on this one, they says: "File Under: Fantasy / Aztec Mystery / Locked Room / Human Sacrifice / The Dead Walk!" Now how on earth could I resist that? As it turns out, I am very happy I didn't resist it, because within I found a very strong debut, one equal parts detective, historical, and epic fantasy novel.The detective component was extremely satisfying. As is traditional, Acatl has a sort of semi-formal stan [...]

    13. Possible spoilers***************The balance between the Underworld, the Fifth World and the Heaven is maintained with blood magic. Blood sacrifices are commonplace here . Not unexpected considering the Aztecs were known for sacrificing people."Nothing was as precious as blood; and the most precious thing of all was the heart, which gathered all the blood and distributed it around the body." Acatl is a reluctant High Priest of the Dead and a narrator of this story. He was summoned by Ceyaxochitl, [...]

    14. I wanted to like this book. Really, I did. It sounds so cool, an Aztec murder mystery? Lots of magic and religion? Unfortunately I had to call it quits on page 75 of 407.Aliette De Bodard appears to really know her stuff, maybe a little too well. From page one, I was bombarded with info, rituals, background and names such as Mictlan, Actal-tzin, Ichtaca, Ceyaxochitl, Yaotl, Neutemoc, Xochiquetzal, Eleuia, Axayacatl-tzin Foreign ideas, religion, culture is all cool, but I never felt as if there w [...]

    15. A dry, dull fantasy novel in which both the "murder mystery" element AND the "Aztec Empire" elements are just thin window-dressing, ultimately interchangeable with any other genre and any other setting/culture. You could have set this in a fantasy version of Rome, Egypt, feudal Japan, Mughal India, etc. and it wouldn't have made a bit of difference. The author throws in a lot of superficial mystery elements, throws in a bunch of Aztec-sounding names, but that's about as deep as it gets. Add a ca [...]

    16. There are quite a few urban fantasy mysteries and historical mysteries--this blends the two. Acatl is a reluctant High Priest--he doesn't like politics, he's not very self-confident, and he has a severe case of imposter syndrome. The poor guy muddles along as best he can. He's perfectly at home with dealing with shadow beasts and other monsters from the underworld--it's people that give him trouble.The mystery that he gets entangled in has quite a bit of personal tragedy for him. There are the u [...]

    17. In Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, 1480 a princess priestess vanishes from her room, but nothing is what it seems. The priest of death, Acati is called to investigate, but is horrified when he discovers his estranged brother, Neutemoc, a Jaguar Knight, is implicated in the presumed murder of the missing girl. Now Acati must investigate the situation and find out the truth ultimately to save his warrior brother from the penalty of death and to uncover the real murderer. But everywh [...]

    18. Nothing leapt out to me as special about this book.There was nothing particularly strong and urgent about Acatl as a hero-narrator - he was too diffident, too opaque, too prone to only telling us about things when they entered the narrative, which made everything seem too convenient and not really personally important to him. (Particularly, here, the old apprentice who was supposed to add tension to his relationship with Teomitl but who failed to do so because he was never actually a weight on t [...]

    19. This is my 3rd de Bodard and I must say, it clearly shows that this was her first novel - years back. It's a very good book with a clearly structured plotline. However, it doesn't show the lyrical writing of her shorter works or her latest 'The House of Shattered Wings'. Some of the introverties of the MC tend to be a bit repetitive, however, she get's that foible under control in the second half of the book.The wordlbuilding is fabulous. I don't think, I read anything this detailled or (I looke [...]

    20. Hrrrrrrrrm.Look, I love the idea of this. And I like the way De Bodard writes.But there's some flaws here. I read a murder mystery to read about someone solving a murder and (failing at) solving their own problems. I found the former petered out in an unsatisfactory way and there were too many of the latter, with the result nothing really developed. Acatl's problems at the temple, with his family, with his apprentice you could have spent a whole series with what's going on here. And as a result [...]

    21. I bought this on a whim. It combines two of my favorite genres - fantasy and mystery so I was tempted as soon as I read the blurb. Then the publisher, Angry Robots, was having a sale so it only cost me a little over $3. It was well worth it and then some. A very polished effort for a debut novel.I thought the plotting was well done, as was the characterisation, and I found the depiction of Aztec culture fascinating.I don't rate it higher than 3 stars because it did has some clunky bits. The main [...]

    22. This was fun. The worldbuilding seemed first rate (I don't have any practical knowledge of 1500s Aztec culture) and the relationships between the characters were engaging; particularly between the two brothers and their sister. I did find that some of the plot was a little transparent, but not so much as to spoil the book.What made this particularly interesting to me was that this didn't seem like a fantasy story at all; it was more of a mystery in a foreign culture or land. If you're looking fo [...]

    23. Aztec fantasy built around a murder mystery. Awesome. I have no freaking idea if any of this is accurate or not but whatever, I don't care because it was still damn interesting.

    24. In the Aztec Empire, Acatl is pulled from his duties as a funeral priest to investigate the violent disappearance of a priestess, a crime which implicates his brother. This reminds me of Amanda Downum's The Bone Palace: murder mystery as impetus to explore a fantasy setting and magic system. It's not a format I enjoy (I prefer my murder mysteries in short form); regardless, this isn't a particularly successful example of it--it's more of a plot McGuffin than a mystery that the reader can solve. [...]

    25. I read a short story by this author last year and loved it, so I picked a random book of hers with a decent rating to try. Had I realized that this was her first novel, I would have picked a different one. This was basically The Dresden Files set within the Aztec empire. It's not a terrible book, but it makes a lot of "first novel" mistakes - the first half is solid mystery, but the middles drags terribly and the climax is then rushed and unsatisfying. I will definitely read more from this autho [...]

    26. One of my favourite genres outside fantasy is historical crime, so a series that combines both is an irresistible lure to me. I was very glad, therefore, to come across de Bodard's Obsidian and Blood series, set in the pre-Columbian Aztec Empire.Disclaimer: Aliette and I share both a publisher and an agent. I take this, not so much as bias, as an indication that our tastes are similar and attract a similar audience. It should not surprise anyone, therefore, if I enjoyed this book!Servant of the [...]

    27. What drew me to this book was the premise of a fantasy set in the Mexica (Aztec) empire.What hooked me was a complex, well realized world and characters. The story starts its life as a sort of locked room mystery. Before long it has taken on several more dimensions. Family relations, temple politics, government politics, personal vendetta, and the supernatural all figure into it Bodard has clearly done a lot of research and thinking about the religion, culture and civic structure of the Mexica. [...]

    28. I usually don't read books with this much bloodshed in them, but with SotU I was prepared, because you know, Aztecs. :D The worldbuilding was awesomely well done here: I got a really strong sense of atmosphere and place - a place and culture fascinatingly different from my own. The names, the descriptions of place, the blood magic and gods: great stuff. I also liked that the plot went from murder mystery to epic - it escalated well.Acatl was an interesting narrator: I especially liked that we go [...]

    29. This book is pretty damn good. A lot better than I expected. I have to admit, I read the blurb and decided it couldn’t be interesting. I mean, the whole Aztec blood magic thing. I wasn’t into it. But it’s really good. I stayed up too late to read this and I really like it. The end is perfect. I did not see it coming, but at the same time, it makes perfect sense. Really. Just the kind of ending I like best.I have to admit, I wasn’t too crazy about the book when I first heard about it. The [...]

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