Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood #1)
by Aliette De Bodard
Summary: 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.
As a lover of both fantasy and mythology, I really enjoyed this book. It was refreshing and different, as it involves Aztec mythology, something I’m not familiar with. Fantasy and mythology lovers like myself can sometimes tire of reading the genre because most books involve medieval or old world Europe type settings or Roman and Greek mythology and it can get old because it is so similar. This is a refreshing take on the genre because of the setting and mythology involved.
I think lovers of mystery will enjoy this book as well, as it is a big mystery with many plot twists and turns. I enjoyed all of the characters, especially Acatl. While it took a while to truly understand his character, I felt like I really got to know him in the end. I also thought he grew as a character. In the beginning, despite being High Priest of the Dead, he was very modest and unwilling to really take control of his position. Towards the end, I felt like he understood that he was not some lowly priest, but a High Priest and one with very good skills. His family dynamics shaped him, but I felt like he was finally able to overcome his failings and shine as a Priest.
Some of the reviews I looked at mentioned the names tripping them up. This is true, as the names of people, places, temples, and gods were very strange. To combat this, I just used nicknames by shortening the names and remembering them. I try not to get tripped up by weird names by trying too hard to pronounce them. I just look at it, remember it, and replace it with something that doesn’t trip up my mind. I’m pretty sure I just read Acatl as Ack. It makes it easier and I think doing this helps me enjoy the story without focusing so much on what I can pronounce.
I have the rest of the series, including the short stories, so I’m looking forward to continuing. I think Bodard has a lot of talent and creativity. This is such a refreshing take on a genre that can be repetitive. I thought the writing was very good and descriptive. I especially enjoyed the different rituals Acatl did and the different offerings for the gods. I loved the way the gods interacted with the people and the different hierarchies in the world. Everything was so complicated, yet flawlessly executed and extremely enjoyable.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, mythology, or mystery. The only issue I noticed was the complicated names, but I felt like overcoming this was fairly simple and once done, I was able to truly enjoy this wonderful story.