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Harbinger of the Storm (Obsidian and Blood #2)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  373 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Death, magic and intrigue in this hotly-anticipated follow-up to Servant of the Underworld. A sumptuously-detailed Aztec world, which will appeal to fans of magical fantasy, historical drama, political intrigue and murder mysteries.

As the political infighting starts within the imperial court, Acatl, High Priest for the De
ebook, 432 pages
Published January 6th 2011 by Angry Robot
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Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Recommended for fans of Martha Wells, inventive fantasy, otherworldly detection

I loved researching and writing ethnographies in anthropology class; the idea of describing cultural norms in the hopes of understanding as well as to speculating on their function in society. A study of a culture’s biology, if you will. Aliette de Bodard’s series Obsidian and Blood (Bodard’s site) reminds me of an ethnography, but instead of the dry, pseudo-scientific tone discussing a culture in general, Bodard gives us the personal perspective of Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, as he seeks to
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Harbinger of the Storm takes place a year and a half after the events in Servant of the Underworld where you are first introduced to Acatl, High Priest for the Dead. Acatl is too honest to play games and yet he is dragged into one in this book.

The Reverend Speaker is dead and the city desperately needs a new one if they want to protect themselves from the star demons and who knows what other monstrosities are waiting for the way to open. Acatl is summoned to the Imperial Palace to start the pre
Ben Babcock
So my review for the first book in this series begins, “It took me forever to read Servant of the Underworld, and I don’t know why. It’s great.”

That was two years ago.


I’ve had Harbinger of the Storm all that time, thanks to my wonderful subscription to Angry Robot Books … I’ve just been very, very, very negligent in actually reading these books! And I don’t know why, because they are great! Aliette de Bodard is such a smart writer. It’s totally my bad.

Unlike in the real world where I am a g
All of my reservations from reading the previous book re: potential appropriation and exoticisation stand, but in terms of the content and storyline, the way Aliette de Bodard brings the world to life, I am really enjoying these. There are a few spots of clunky exposition ("as you know because you have lived here all your life, [x] is the domain of [x] god"), but for the most part it's smooth sailing. I do like that there's a continuing narrative going on here, a story arc that carries between b ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2017
Kind of like an Urban Fantasy in a Aztec setting. A priest of the Dead doing his best Harry Dresden trying to solve a string of murders in a Imperial Palace. It would be annoying to have to cut your earlobes every day. Very original fantasy trilogy.
Enjoyed this one more than the first....probably because I was more familiar with the setting, magic and behaviours this time round. Will certainly read the next book in this series.
Fred Warren
Acatl is Tenochtitlan’s High Priest of the Dead: coroner, funeral director, keeper of the unseen boundaries between the the world of spirits and the world of men--and reluctant detective, when the need arises. He’s a humble, soft-spoken man who’s grown considerably into his duties since last we met him, but now he’s confronted by a new and terrifying challenge.

The Revered Speaker, ruler of Tenochtitlan, is dead, and court intrigue swirls around the naming of his successor. Acatl would prefer to
Dec 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...I found Harbinger of the Storm to be a worthy successor to what I consider to be a very successful début. The emphasis in this book has shifted a bit from a murder mystery to political intrigue but the setting hasn't lost any of its appeal in the process. The novel zooms out a bit to allow room for more religious and political aspects of Aztec society to slip into the story. Despite my preoccupation with the historical aspects of the novel, Harbinger of the Storm is mostly a race against the ...more
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, a note. I see this book refereed to everywhere as fantasy. To me, it felt more like magical realism. After all, even though we don't know all that much about the Aztecs, they did live and build a complex society. Moreover, this series seems to have more to say that does most of what we find in the fantasy genre. That said, de Bodard's books are decidedly bloody--lots of sacrifices--but also fascinating. She clearly did a huge amount of research into Aztec religion, culture, and politics, ...more
Matt Brady
I cant say exactly why I didn't like this as much as the first book in the series. Maybe it's just slightly staler, maybe the mystery was a little too complicated, maybe the cast of characters is a little too small. It just didn't feel quite right. Like an undercooked meal. In a book like this, a murder mystery set in a fantastical version of the Aztek Empire, there's a bit of a delicate balancing act. You need a compelling mystery, because that's what's driving the plot, but the setting is so a ...more
The second book was a pleasant continuation of the world and characters to which we were introduced in the first. The plot's twists and turns were well-orchestrated and we got to deepen our knowledge of the city's politics. The story was satisfying overall, however it dawned on me that all the recurring characters are kind of one-dimensional, or seem more like tools to add to Acatl's experiences instead of people in their own right. Mihmatini in particular only ever appears when she's needed to ...more
Since I really, truly got into reading genre fiction, particularly fantasy and science-fiction, a favorite personal game of mine has been: what would happen if I found myself transported into the world of the book I was reading? Would I be able to live in it permanently? Would it be a better to just go for a visit? Or is it so very unsafe that I wouldn't last a minute before something or someone killed me in a horrific manner? And since I got into historical fiction I've begun including time per ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise intrigued me enough just picking it up -there have been other murder mystery series set in older times than even this (Sister Fidelma) but those were all ended with real world answers. This book takes real world events and adds a supernatural element and weaves and intricate story. There were a lot of players in this story with titles so I did get confused to who was who sometimes. But it was a steady, intriguing read. The characters are interesting, the first person POV works and th ...more
Lauren Smith

It’s been one and a half years since the events of Servant of the Underworld, the first in Aliette de Bodard’s mythological mystery series, Obsidian and Blood. Book two, Harbinger of the Storm opens with the death of The Revered Speaker, ruler of the Mexica Empire, and with his passing the Fifth World is left vulnerable to destruction. The Revered Speaker acts as the agent of the War and Sun god Huitzlipochtli, and without him Huitzlipochtli has no means of giving the human world his protect
Mar 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, historical
When the Revered Speaker Axayacatl-tzin dies, the fifth world is left vulnerable. Without a ruler, the Mexica Empire is no longer under the protection of Huitzilpochtli, the God of War, but is at the mercy of flesh-eating stardemons, not to mention the politics of electing a new emperor.

In order to discover who is behind the deaths of a council member and the Guardian to the Empire, Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, must throw himself into the political melee that ensues. Discovering that a starde
Acatl-tzin is the High Priest of the Dead, but in the Aztec society where warriors and the glory of warfare is the most valued, he’s not actually in a powerful position. After all, Mitctlantecuhtli governs over people who have not died in battle or as a sacrifice. Even his two fellow high priests look down on Acatl because the Lord of the Dead doesn’t have much influence and Acatl’s parents were peasants. In addition to doing the rites for the dead, Acatl investigates murders.

When the story star
Sara Norja
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful sequel to Servant of the Underworld! It helped that I'd got into the world already, of course, but Harbinger of the Storm really picked up quicker otherwise as well. Acatl is more assertive, which is great, but also feels like the person we got to know in the previous book. A very likeable character.

The palace intrigue was great - although frustrating in the sense of "omg people why are you being like this when the world is at stake". The plot moved forwards fast, and the atmosphere
Elias Helfer
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the second book of the Obsidian and Blood series, we rejoin Acatl, High Priest for the Dead, literally as the Revered Speaker, the rule of the Mexica empire, dies. The death of the Revered Speaker has severe consequences in the cosmology of the books (which is very strongly inspired by Aztec mythology), as the Revered Speaker channels the presence and blessing of the sun god, Huitzilopochtli, chief god of the empire. His powers keep the world safe from the Star Demons, so it is important to c ...more
Aliette de Bodard: Harbinger of the Storm

Another outing for Acatl, High Priest of the Dead in Tenochtitlan, the capital if the Mexica/Aztec world. This takes up the story begun in Servant of the Underworld, approximately one year later. Acatl is a little more secure in his job, though he still tries to avoid the politicking which the high priests of the other gods seem to revel in. Teomitl, the younger brother of the current Revered Speaker (emperor in all but name) has now taken up with Acatl's
Harbinger of the Storm is the second book in the Obsidian and Blood series, and is an very good continuation of the series. For those unfamiliar, the series is a historical fantasy set in the Aztec Empire, an empire where magic is everywhere and common, and where the gods have an active part in life. It is also a series of murder mystery, but with magic. Like the first book, the story is told in first person from the point of view of Acatl, the High Priest of the Dead. Where the first book was a ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Well, that was a trip and a half.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harbinger of the Storm works much better than Obsidian and Blood's first installment.
This time, I could actually suspend disbelief and buy the settings's premise. And I don't think that's merely because I was already familiar with the setting (although that must have played a part, especially when it comes to comparing the beginning of the sequel with the beggining of the series which I thought was a rather difficult read). The issues the characters deal with as well as their attitudes are more
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is it the end of the fifth world?
The Emperor is dead and so is the protection he provided for the fifth world now threatened by star demons, malicious summoners and inner strife.

It all starts when they find councilor Ocome cut to pieces by a star-demon inside the palace. The demon is on the loose and has to be found. The investigation into the councilor’s death starts to peel an onion of mystery with many surprising twists and turns to be enjoyed.

The succession is far from as clear as it ought t
Events were wrapped up neatly at the end of Servant of the Underworld and a year or so later Harbinger of the Storm begins with the death of the Revered Speaker, leaving the Empire in jeopardy. Political intrigues only impede a timely resolution to the Empire’s problems.

The parts of the book that really shined for me were the action sequences, dealings with the gods, and rich setting details. The overall reading experience was great, though at times for me the investigation dialogs and political
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-fiction
The Revered Speaker of Tenochtitlan is dead, leaving a leadership vacuum at the heart of the Mexica Empire. As political factions battle over who shall be apppointed to replace him, malign spiritual forces gather to feed upon the leaderless and unprotected people of the Fifth World.

For Acatl it's a stressful enough time to be high priest of the dead. Things only get worse, however, when a member of the council tasked with choosing the next Revered Speaker is murdered by magical means at the hear
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Some days I feel like an Angry Robot fanboi. Who am I kidding? I am a huge fan. This book continues the great run of books they have released.

This is the second book in a series and I highly recommend reading Servant of the Underworld first.
I found the beginning of the first book a little too slow and hard to get into for my liking, but I was right there in the story from the first page of Harbinger. The main protagonist Acatl is the reluctant high priest of the dead and is part of a triumvirate
Cécile C.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed Harbinger of the Storm even more than the first tome of the series. Unlike what happens to some trilogies, where the author sounds like she had only planned the first book and struggles to give it an interesting sequel, Bodard seems to have refined her style and writing technique in this one. The murder mystery structure probably helps (it's easier to write a whole new interesting book if you have some guidelines, like having to find a new victim, new political stakes, and a new dénoue ...more
Nov 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have an embarrassing confession to make--while quite enjoy Aliette de Bodard's Obsidain and Blood series, I'm not sure I will continue reading them for one simple fact that I will get to in a minute. The author has written an accurate depiction of the Aztec empire, with the caveat that any kind of magic the Aztecs believed in exists for purposes of the story. This is a very cool take on a historical fantasy, and I love the way de Bodard depicts the truly bloody world of the Aztecs.

However, bec
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, a loose blend of mystery, historical fiction, and mebbe flesh eating demons. I am enjoying it as the antidote to 'The German Genius'. I like the Aztec bits;all that blood. A world run on blood, starting with getting the sun to rise. I have been an avid Aztec novel reader since Jennings' first Aztec novel.
The cover caught my eye in the sf section at the bookstore. I have jumped into a series as Blood and Obsidian: Harbinger of the Storm presumably is, being marked #2 and all. Jumping into
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Revered Speaker -- that is to say, the Emperor of the Tenochtitlan nation-state -- is dead. His potential successors are maneuvering for the throne like there was no tomorrow. There may in fact be no tomorrow, because the Revered Speaker is the mortal representative of Huitzilpochtli, and without one in place... the universe gets shaky. For example, somebody important is torn into messy little gobbets by star-demons. Our favorite High Priest of the Dead decides to do something about this, ov ...more
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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)
  • Master of the House of Darts (Obsidian and Blood, #3)

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