Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > The Sleeping God

The Sleeping God by Violette Malan
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Aug 16, 2009

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bookshelves: fantasy, 2009
Read in August, 2009

Dhulyn (Dill-lyn") and Parno are Mercenary Brothers, and Partners. The Mercenaries are elite fighters, a guild that crosses continents with a long history of nobility and honour. Being Partnered, they also share a bond that cannot be severed.

Having finished one commission, they arrive in Imrion, Parno's birthplace, to find that the Marked - those people born with the ability to Find, Mend or Heal - are being persecuted by angry mobs and New Believers, Jaldean priests who have branched off from the original Jaldeans. They preach that the Marked will awaken the Sleeping God, who will destroy them.

Dhulyn herself is Marked, one of the rarest of them all: she's a Seer. Parno is the only one who knows. They both see something suspicious when they arrive in Imrion at the town of Navra, just in time to help a family of Finders to escape an angry mob's justice. But work is work, and when a Weaver pays them to take their adopted daughter, Mar, to the capital of Gotterang where her noble House wants to have her back, they accept the mission - they were on their way there anyway, and at least now they'll be paid.

But in Gotterang the persecution against the Marked is even more intense, and those who go to the temple for their "blessing", return senseless and mad, if they return at all. There's something in the city, something possessing people, that is taking, or "unmaking", the Marks within people. In Mar's house, Tenebro House, the heir, Lok-ikol, is working with the Jaldeans for his own ends, and he's discovered that Dhulyn is a Seer.

Now Dhulyn and Parno are drawn into a battle the likes of which they've never encountered. What they're working against is a NOT, and cannot be killed - except by the Sleeping God, which saved the people centuries before. If only they knew how to summon it.

My summary probably makes no sense - it probably reads like a Harry Potter movie, where you only get it if you've read it. It's a classic fantasy with some new and original twists, and doesn't follow a predictable pattern, so it's hard to know what to say and what to leave alone.

It starts slow and a bit frustratingly, because you're coming from ignorance of this world and some of what they say doesn't make sense at first because you have no basis for understanding. As you get drawn further into the world though, things gain clarity and it works, so it's worth sticking with it. I do like it when fantasy novels draw you in slowly, revealing bits of the world as if it were real and assuming the reader already knows all about it - it just makes it more realistic. It was a bit tough at first, here, and there's still a great deal to discover about this world, but it did achieve that sense of realism.

Dhulyn was a strong female lead, different and alien almost, at times. In comparison, Parno was a bit ordinary, but also solid and reassuring - he was the familiar character, the one to ground you while you felt your way with Dhulyn, who's less predictable. Their relationship, the extent of it, wasn't terribly clear, but by the end it was less vaguely implied that they are lovers as well as Partners, though not exclusive ones.

There are many other characters here as well - it's a broad tapestry of perspectives. The culture of Imrion was a mix of familiar medieval and Asian - not in appearances, but in the structure of families and households. And then other parts were original.

I found the ending to be very satisfying, and unexpected. I loved what Malan did with the Sleeping God - when that was revealed, it clicked and made complete sense and I even made a noise out loud, one of those "Ahhhhh" sounds. It was especially satisfying because it came together so naturally, which takes skill to write.

There were slow parts, and parts where I got impatient with a level of detail that normally I appreciate - sometimes a novel needs to move faster and not take a moment to describe the furniture of a room. It did take me longer to read than otherwise, and my only other disappointment was not getting more than glimpses of Dhulyn and Parno's relationship, their close bond, in order to understand it better and understand them more. It was established and then repeated when needed, but not delved into in any personal, intimate way to give it more substance.
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