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Master of the House of Darts

(Obsidian and Blood #3)

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  360 ratings  ·  38 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
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Mass Market Paperback, 443 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Angry Robot (first published January 1st 2011)
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  360 ratings  ·  38 reviews


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ᴥ Irena ᴥ
4.5

Revered Speaker Tizoc is back from his coronation war with only forty prisoners. When people start dying from what seems to be a plague caused by magic, Acatl realizes that the Fifth World is in danger. Again. Only this time the actions of the High Priests gave the opportunity to their enemies. I can't say how and why because of what happens in Harbinger of Storm (my favourite of the three books). To make everything worse, it seems even some of the gods are afraid.

You could say that Acatl stu
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Scott Kennedy
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
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
Rob
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
...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
Jeni
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the final book in the trilogy and I've really enjoyed reading these over the past few years. It's a shame there isn't more.
Nathan
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
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Kate Sherrod
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: angry-robot
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
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Loth
The final book of the trilogy had the hallmark mystery that made the first two interesting, but there were two areas in which it struggled that made this less enjoyable to read. The first is that the magic we saw was beginning to feel routine, diminishing the sense of wonder the reader gets when exploring Acatl's world. There was a lot of repetitive phrasing that made magical scenes feel dull, and some of the magical discoveries felt too rushed to be exciting.

The second, more important flaw, was
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Saphana
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
I'm not going to do a full review, since there's no need for a synopsis - enough of them out there already. Let's just say, that Acatl has to solve another murder mystery threatening the existence of the Fifth World in this noir fantasy, based in 14th century Tenochtitlan.

It's like I assumed in my review of the first volume. The author has by now fully grown into her art. Gone are the repetetive and overpronounced introspections of the MC. Gone are the -sometimes- very non-sequitur dialogues and
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Nikki
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Andrew
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Gabrielle
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
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Kam
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
Wrong Train, Right Time
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have less and less to say as the series goes on since, well, I zoomed through the second and third books so quickly and because all the good stuff from Book 1 continues and holds up well as it goes through. In a way, the trilogy feels more like one big book in my mind rather than three separate books.

The main threat in Master of the House of Darts is plague. It's an interesting choice of threat in that it plays on Acatl’s ongoing reluctance to rest and not let himself be run into the ground.
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Michel
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review will count for all three books in the series, since I felt the same way about each of them.
I love the idea of the Aztec Pantheon and setting. There was just something that didn't click with me in these books. The main character seems to be this relatively unqualified/inexperienced high priest, who admits repeatedly that if he would do his high priest duties better all of his investigations would go more smoothly. Instead he runs into friction wherever he goes. The uncooperativeness
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bkwurm
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This is last book in the trilogy and deals with the consequences of decisions taken in book 2 as well as those taken well before the events in the trilogy.

The Mexica empire is under supernatural attack again. The Revered Speaker is proving to be less than capable and Acatyl, High Priest of the Dead, finds that the one he trusted most may no longer be reliable.

Great story and an interesting look at a completely different culture and value system where sacrifice and especially blood sacrifice is
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Jessica
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
So complicated and huge and magical. Everytime I read part of this series, I want to learn Nahuatl!

I really enjoyed this, and am looking forward to re-reading the series at some point, but I also can see that she's getting much better editing support at Gollancz (Fallen series).

Favorite quote:
"The gods took pain, which was the only sincere sacrifice. Prayers were nothing more than children’s wishes, but pain and blood made them real – because it cost to give them, and because they were freely o
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Sara Norja
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable conclusion to the trilogy! Overall I think I liked the second book the best, but Master of the House of Darts was also excellent. The plague thing was super creepy (and gross... aaah I made the mistake of eating while reading these books SO many times! :D). I liked seeing Acatl take more steps in his journey to become a true High Priest and become more confident. Having him take the lead was nice to see, and (view spoiler). ...more
Jacob
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
(Repost from http://drying-ink.blogspot.com/2011/1... )
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
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Jacey
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Elias Helfer
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it
This is the third and (presumably) last book of Obsidian and Blood. If you've read the previous two books, you know more or less what you're in for: Acatl, high priest for the dead, must investigate a mysterious death, and along the way, discovers that all is not what it seems.

This book takes place three months after the last book, right as the soldiers are returning from the Coronation War for the new Revered Speaker. A mysterious, magical plague is striking the city, and Acatl must seek out th
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Mervi
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, epic-fantasy
The book starts about three months after the end of the previous one. The Mexica Empire has a new ruler, the Revered Speaker, but he hasn’t yet consolidated his rule with the gods. In order to do that, he needs to get lots of war captives and sacrifice them. However, when he gets back from the Coronation War, his warriors have captured only a small amount of enemies and during the welcome ceremony one of the Mexica warriors falls down, dead. Acatl suspects that he died of magic and wants to see ...more
Outis
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Some
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Laura
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
In some ways, one can see the author has learned a lot since her first novel, Servant of the Underworld. For instance, the plot here is less predictable. On the other hand, I can tell she stopped using a copy editor. Characters are consistently pooling their boats where they used to be poling them, and sometimes they nearly repeat sections of dialogue. It’s little, but distracting. That combined with the fact that, while the world is still interesting, I was less interested in the characters tha ...more
Shaina
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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John Carter McKnight
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Liz
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
LemontreeLime
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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!
Todd
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 :)
Fraser Sherman
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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.
Stephen
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
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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
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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)