Hinterland (book, 2006, James Clemens)

From SFX 152.


Book two of Godslayer

James Clemens/Orbit/464 pages

More god-bothering fantasy antics

To reiterate the review of Godslayer book one: this is a good idea, poorly delivered.

Clemens’s good idea is this: His world of Myrillia is blessed with 98 gods (whittled down from 100 in Shadowfall) whose humours can bestow power upon their followers. The 100 gods each settled a particular area and bound themselves to it long ago, though there are still areas, like the “Hinterland” of the title, inhabited by rogue gods. Both types are but the earth-bound aspect of tripartite deities whose parts were sundered aeons ago. The daemonic sides of them are plotting to take over Myrillia, while their heavenly aspects stand aloof.

Clemens falls down in three ways. Firstly, his writing is not the best. It’s studded with Smeerp-isms – months are “moonpasses” and so forth – and loaded with lumpen, expository dialogue. Secondly, the journeys his characters seem but repeats of those in the first book. This specifically applies to Dart, the girl-godling warded by her own daemon aspect. In the first book she was at school in Chrism, bullied and raped. In this she’s at school in Tashijan, bullied, and almost branded. Not until the story gets going does she get something new to do. Thirdly, the plot hangs from a similar thread – evil lurking at the heart of something ostensibly good.

Clemens shows promise, but Godslayer is raw stuff, not the polished art of top end fantasy. Clemens needs to let us experience his world, not dictate it to us. Perhaps then we can fall in love with his idea as much as he has.

Did you know?

Calling a rabbit a Smeerp does not make it anything but a rabbit. Check out The Turkey City Lexicon at www.sfwa.org/writing/turkeycity.html for more hallmarks of bad writing. (That goes for you too, Clemens).


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