The Godspeaker trilogy
This week, I finished the third volume of the Godspeaker trilogy by Karen Miller. As for the previous series, Kingmaker Kingbreaker, the covers are nice drawings (by Julia Denos) with none of the gaudiness of usual heroic fantasy covers (just think of the original covers of the Wheel of Time series!), even though the editor should have avoided the terrible fonts on both last volumes. This trilogy has a fairly unusual plot and, while it is much more predictable than, say, The Name of the Wind I posted about last week, it is quite pleasant two thirds of the way. First, the novels oppose two female characters as the major players and the first one, Hekat, sole player in the first novel, Empress, is quite formidable and unique in the genre. The second character, Rhian, has much more of the usual features of the literature (daughter of a dying king fighting against all odds and Church to gain the throne), even though her uncertainty (connected to her youth) distinguishes her from other HF heroines. Second, the major trick in the plot (Warning, spoiler!!!) is related to the role of the deities, since the true powers behing Hekat and her blood-based empire are only revealed in the middle of the second novel. This is fairly well-done in that the first volume has no clue about the evil nature of the corresponding deity and even the clergy (made of godspeakers) is not aware of this (which may be seen as a weak point as well since there is no indication on the reason or the timing of this switch…) The third volume being the clash between the two heroines, with the son of Hekat being stuck between them, it could have been terrific! But I found it quite lenghty and, again, predictable. This is certainly the weakest of the series and, while superior to the Kingmaker Kingbreaker serie, it somehow suffers from a lack of scope that was clearly the number one default in this earlier serie. Characters are always well-designed and deep enough to be convincing, but the universe where the novels take place lacks depth and is too “narrow”, the worst point being the involvement of the other kingdoms in the war against Hekat’s sand warriors… The ending is particularly poor, since the two major figures never come face to face and the invasion is stopped by one character killing another one. Nonetheless, despite this luckwarm analysis, I would still recommend the series because of the terrific first novel (read also this post) and the overall analysis of the role of religion and beliefs, some characters resorting to genocides in the name of their gods, while others are fighting their becoming god instruments all the way through the novels.