Book Review: God Stalk by Hodgell (3.5 Stars)

God Stalk by P.C. Hodgell

3.5 out of 5 stars

Read in June/July 2009

Warning: Spoilers

Jame stumbles into Tai-Tastigon, apparently deserted, after being so long on the run she’s delirious with exhaustion and fighting off her race’s healing dwar sleep.  She chances upon Penari, a famous thief, as he’s trapped in a doorway by a a couple of footpads.  Jame rushes to the rescue and Penari offers her a job as recompense.  Too weak, confused and lost to comprehend, Jame wanders the maze of Tai-Tastigon until she collapses just inside the doorstep of the Res a’Bytrr, one of the few taverns open on the eve of the Feast of the Dead Gods.

Jame is adopted into the hearts and hearth of the tavern owner and his staff.  She recovers rapidly, but is stalked by nightmares of her life before arriving at Tai-Tastigon, home to thousands of gods, their temples and followers. Jame, a Kencyr, believes in only one god, the Three-Faced God:  Torrigion, That-Which-Creates; Argentiel, That-Which-Preserves; and, Regonereth, That-Which-Destroys.  Honor bound and honest to a fault, Jame finds Tai-Tastigon strange and dangerous.

Unable to continue her journey to Kencyr lands due to the closing of the mountain passes and storms on the seas, Jame takes Penari up on his offer of an apprenticeship.  She seeks the approval of her god through the high priest, Ishtier, in residence at the Temple of the Three-Faced God in the Lower Town.  Arrogant and hateful, Ishtier is about to refuse her request, when the Three-Faced God speaks through him and gives a limited blessing to Jame.

Jame spends the rest of the story learning her craft, remembering her heritage and mastering a martial art similar to dancing, which can also entrance her audience and through which she can channel unseen forces and powers. She also seeks the answer to a burning theological questions: how can there exist so many gods? has her race, the Kencyrs, been duped by itself for three thousand years?  She stalks the gods, even managing to kill one and resurrect it, before she comes to terms with her beliefs.

There are moments of poetic prose amongst the heists, action and intrigue.  The characters seemed flat, though, as I never cared one whit if they were in danger, injured, kidnapped or killed.