Master of the House of Darts by Aliette de Bodard

There are not enough high quality female authors breaking through in to the mass market. I not only feel this is an author who deserves this opportunity, but that in fifty years time people will be looking back and talking about her genius. I’m still waiting for her to release a full length sci-fi novel for me to buy because I believe it will be just plain awesome. I put this book back a couple in my reading queue. This is usually a negative thing to say about a book but in this instance it is not. I knew I had a day with nearly four hours of coach travel so I wanted to save it for then so that I could really get in to in. It was a good call because this is definitely not the kind of  book for ten minute reading sessions. Do it some justice and sit down for a good while, especially at the beginning.

This is a mystery novel set in the heart of the Mexica empire. It is the third in the series (I believe the omnibus is out soon). Given that the setting is unusual there are enough reminders thrown in to help existing reading and ensure that anybody who’s just picked up the third book can still understand enough to enjoy the story. As with the first two books the main protagonist is Acatl (you can tell I like these books because I stole that name for an SWTOR character) the High Priest for the Dead. He is the keeper of the boundaries and balance within the fifth world. To maintain the status quo Acatl once again has to solve a mystery steeped in magic and touched by the Gods themselves.

The title of the book refers to Acatl’s student and next in line to the throne. In this story though Teomitl is seen more through his influence on others more than the direct action that readers of the first two books will be used to. It becomes obvious fairly early that there is going to be some tension between Acatl and Teomitl that is only heightened by Teomitl’s marrige to Acatl’s sister. This tension tracks alongside the main storyline until they collide in a fascinating ending that left me wanting another book with maybe more emphasis on Teomitl and the military side of the Mexica Empire.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. I’ve already looked up a couple of the online references mentioned at the end of the book. Yes there are liberties taken with magic and the role of females in this trilogy but that is what fiction is about. I do like the way these are explained. This is a well written and well researched book that managed to make me fall in love with a culture. I went to the Sainsbury exhibit in Norwich shortly after reading the first book in this series and I found the Mexica artefacts seemed so much more real to me.


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