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Master of the House of Darts (Obsidian and Blood #3)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The year is Three Rabbit, and the storm is coming...

The coronation war for the new Emperor has just ended in a failure, the armies retreating with a mere forty prisoners of war - not near enough sacrifices to ensure the favor of the gods.

When one of those prisoners of war dies of a magical illness, ACATL, High Priest for the Dead, is summoned to investigate.

File Under: F
Mass Market Paperback, 443 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Angry Robot (first published January 1st 2011)
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Aztec, Maya & Inca - Fiction
23rd out of 74 books — 35 voters
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Fantasy of color
89th out of 156 books — 53 voters

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Community Reviews

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Scott Kennedy
If you want to take a plunge into the bloody realm of the Aztecs as Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, tries to unravel the mystery behind a mysterious illness spreading in the capital, then this book is for you. It's filled with palace politics, ancient gods, costly magic, and growing tension as the plague grows in severity. One particularly nice aspect of reading this book is that it paints a balanced portrait of a highly civilized Aztec society that nonetheless engages in regular human sacrifice ...more
...I enjoyed reading Master of the House of Darts as much as the previous two novels. We see a bit more confident Acatl in this novel, despite the fact that he is dealing with unintended consequences of his own actions. He is not a particularly optimistic character but his dark moods fits the dire situation the Mexica Empire is in. It was a nice touch to see that even the gods fear what might happen if the fifth world (the current one according to Aztec mythology) were to come to an end. Readers ...more
First posted here

Third, and currently last, in the series, Master of the House of Darts once again follows Acatl as he investigates threats to the empire, and the mortal world itself. A quick recap for those unfamiliar with the series. Acatl is the High Priest for the Dead, who in his duties of ushering the dead to his master also does his best to keep people from messing with the boundaries that protect the world. Magic is real, gods are accessible (on their own terms of coarse), and blood fuel
There's a certain formulaicness you start to feel creeping in when you read too many mysteries in a row. The confused detective, with everyone turning to him for answers and very few allies to help him leverage his way out. I don't know if it strikes everyone that way, but it's there with Harry Dresden and Matt Richter and... I can't think what, now, but it feels so familiar.

Still, Master of the House of Darts did surprise me, in some ways. Mihmatini had a big role, still, despite being Acatl's
igh priest continues to solve crimes, avert the end of the world. The noir parallels are rather explicit, now that I think about it: Acatl is the ex-cop who left the force because the top brass were all corrupt and he couldn't stomach the ass-kissing needed to get ahead. Okay, it's not a perfect parallel -- he never was "on the force" -- but the "last honest man, refuses to play politics" theme is very much there. This is the point in the series where he has friends and allies, but he's not sure ...more
After two volumes, I've become strangely familiar with this alien setting and those characters. So reading the third book was a relaxing read, kind of like coming home. A bloodier version of home, rather.

The flipside is that it felt repetitive and kind of boring. I don't think #2 was all that different than #3. I felt the heavily red-herringed plot was rather uninspired and the goings on often formulaic, as if the author was talked into writing a trilogy. At times, the book even felt rushed.
John Carter McKnight
A thoroughly satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It began with a wonderful character arc for the main character, from determined slacker to a high official determined to keep his integrity, and ends here beautifully with mastery and mentorship.

The theme here is "chickens come home to roost," unsurprisingly, given the immense moral compromise at the heart of Book 2. There's no right answer to the dilemmas it raised, and the paths of stability and change are both explored honestly and unblinkin
Kate Sherrod
The Aztec godpunk trilogy that began with Servant of the Underworld and continued in Harbinger of the Storm comes to its Obsidian-y and Bloody end in this last volume but as should be the case in any good mystery series, Master of the House of Darts stands perfectly well on its own, even though we take up the thread of the story very soon after the conclusion of Harbinger.

The middle volume was all about the struggle for succession, and ended with the more or less expected victor emerging as Reve
Magical Mysteries in the Time of the Aztec Empire: an interview with Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard, a 2009 finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, wraps up her Obsidian and Blood trilogy this November with Master of the House of Darts. The series is a “cross between a historical Aztec fantasy and a murder-mystery, featuring ghostly jaguars, bloodthirsty gods and fingernail-eating monsters.”

In all three installments, de Bodard masters the atmospherics needed to pull rea
When one is reading a series, it's inevitable that one begins to develop expectations, or attempts to make predictions, regarding what will happen next. One grows attached to certain characters, and based on events that have already happened, one may attempt to guess what will happen to those characters, as well as how the rest of the plot will impact them, and how they themselves will impact the plot. Will they die, and will that death be a vitally important one, or will it be some nondescript ...more
This third book in the Obsidian and Blood trilogy, also in omnibus form, sees Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, trying to deal with a magically conjured plague that is threatening to sweep through Tenochtitlan following Tizoc's triumphal return from his first war as Revered Speaker (Emperor). Tizoc needs a resounding victory to cement his place and provide many prisoners for sacrifice as only blood will appease the gods. The war is proclaimed a victory even though Tizoc's warriors have only manage ...more
(Repost from )
Steampunk. Urban Fantasy. Alternate History. They're all steps out of the generic European Fantasyland, and I love them for it.

But never - to my knowledge - have we seen an Aztec urban fantasy mystery: and one taking as its protagonist a priest of death (generally reserved for those antagonistic cults in most fantasy, complete with ominous latic chanting). I've gone on about fantasy taking its inspiration from outside Europe, and this is pro
Ok I want to start by saying that I picked up a massive copy the whole trilogy on a whim while I was buying popcorn at the Shoppette on base. I saw the cover and thought, "Ohhhh big book about Mexica, sounds good". I had never heard of them before that moment, and before I knew it, I was on a whirlwind adventure through one of my favorite times.

Bodard does a fantastic job of building the plot slowly; sometimes agonizingly slow as a matter of fact. This only add the to the allure and keeps you f
Tyrannosaurus regina
I enjoyed the book, and admired all the historical detail, but I just never got fired up about it. It felt too low-key and too slowly-paced to be the climax of a series. Still, I felt deeply immersed in the world and its mythology as I read it, and that counts for a lot.
It was good to hear about the characters that I have enjoyed but there was a lot of repetition. Not just from the previous book but within itself. It felt almost as if the author was just trying to fill pages by repeating what she just said.
One of the things I like about this series is, despite being a collection of three mysteries, the books themselves don't feel like they're rehashing the same plot over again. Acatl grows as a character throughout the series and the challenges he faces, both intellectually and emotionally, reflect that. Ad the mystery elements are also excellently done. De Bodard never resorts to making her detective stupid for the purposes of the investigation and it feels as though Acatl is always one step ahea ...more
Scarlétt Rosmerta Hellequin
Life got in the way of me reading this one, but I still really enjoyed it, it's a shame there aren't any more of them!
Another masterful mystery from Mlle de Bodard, with death and plague showcasing the horror of an Empire on the verge of collapse due to the weak leadership of Revered Speaker Tizoc. Acatl and Teomitl remain brilliantly executed, though I felt that the SheSnake could have made more of an appearance. Acamapictli was also fully and well drawn here, showing that while he is a self-centered plotter he is, more or less, on Acatl's side... for now :)
Once again, Bodard writes a fast paced mystery adventure that when you reach about halfway through, just be prepared to stay up late to finish the rest of the book that night. I was trying to describe Acatl the high priest to someone and all i could come up with was 'He's like the combination of Brother Cadfael and Harry Dresden, but in ancient mexico...' Lots of fun! Excellent job of world-building!
This is a beautifully written book. It's another murder mystery incorporating the myths and magics of the Latin American culture. Unfortunately, after reading the first two in the series it seemed a little repetitive. While it wrapped up some of the events in the previous books, it was just another murder mystery and took a while to get through.
Fraser Sherman
de Bodard continues doing solid work in this historical fantasy/mystery series. A plague starts spreading through the Aztec capital and Acatl, High Priest of the death god, has to find a way to stop the magical curse behind it. de Bodard does a great job making the Aztecs more than just bloodthirsty savages.
Having not read the first 2 and jumping strait into this one i found i alittle hard to get a handle on emotions of the story. But by the end i was into it, I wouldn't say i am happy to recomend it utill I have read the others, so suggest to others to start at the begining and could be rather impressed!
Diana Thayer
I find the setting and history interesting, but sometimes the story isn't as engrossing as I'd like and the conclusion/villain of the plot slightly anticlimactic. Still an enjoyable book though.
Hanne marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2015
Blake Liddell
Blake Liddell marked it as to-read
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I am a speculative fiction author living in Paris, with a strong taste for history and mythology. Rice addict, tea addict and nước mắm addict.
My short fiction has appeared in various professional venues, and my Aztec fantasy series "Obsidian and Blood", Servant of the Underworld, is published by Angry Robot.
My next novel is The House of Shattered Wings, set in a devastated Paris where quasi-feud
More about Aliette de Bodard...

Other Books in the Series

Obsidian and Blood (3 books)
  • Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1)
  • Harbinger of the Storm (Obsidian and Blood, #2)
Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1) On a Red Station, Drifting Harbinger of the Storm (Obsidian and Blood, #2) The Waiting Stars Immersion

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