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God Stalk

(Kencyrath #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,170 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Originally published in shorter form in Clarion SF (NYC, 1972).
In the first book of the Kencyrath, Jame, a young woman missing her memories, struggles out of the haunted wastes into Tai-tastigon, the old, corrupt, rich & god-infested city between the mountains & the lost lands of the Kencyrath. Jame's struggle to regain her strength, her memories & the resource
Hardcover, Book Club, 271 pages
Published 1982 by McClelland & Stewart ltd.
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Fran Lef There are some things implied, but little is graphic. No sex, no swearing besides “by the gods”. Torture is implied, but again, not graphic. This book…moreThere are some things implied, but little is graphic. No sex, no swearing besides “by the gods”. Torture is implied, but again, not graphic. This book was written in th early 1980s. Writing was not as graphic back then.

Big relief and break from what is now normal.(less)
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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,170 ratings  ·  144 reviews

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Jack Tripper
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
After a pretty stellar start -- where protagonist Jame, suffering from memory loss, arrives in a strange city after traveling many leagues across mountainous, demon-haunted lands -- God Stalk fizzles for the next couple hundred pages as she meanders about with no real purpose. For some reason she decides to join the Thieves' Guild as an apprentice to a very old, highly respected master thief, even though she's morally against stealing and only pilfers worthless items for the Guild. How she was a ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
You have to love Goodreads. I would never have heard of this novel if I had not seen some glowing reviews by other readers. P.C. Hodgell, who I plan to read more of, has created one of the most unique and interesting fantasy cities I've ever come across. Ancient, corrupt and "infested" with gods that battle for worshippers and power. The main character is named Jame and she arrives at Tai-tastigon with no recollection of who she is and we learn about the world and herself right along with her. A ...more
Richard Derus
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: In the first book of the Kencyrath, Jame, a young woman missing her memories, struggles out of the haunted wastes into Tai-tastigon, the old, corrupt, rich and god-infested city between the mountains and the lost lands of the Kencyrath.

Jame's struggle to regain her strength, her memories, and the resources to travel to join her people, the Kencyrath, drag her into several relationships, earning affection, respect, bitter hatred and, as always, haunting me
4.5 stars. This is an original, superbly written debut novel with outstanding world-building. It is always nice to come across an older, lesser known (in least in my case) book that contains truly creative and unique ideas and this book does that. The City of Tai-tastigon is truly the main character of the book with its thousands of gods (most with their own temples) and its confusing, maze-like streets. Add to that a strong, well-drawn main character with unique and unsual skills and a deftly w ...more
Melissa McShane
Re-read 1/4/15: I'm struck this time (every time I read this, I see it from a different angle) by the ambiguity of Jame's relationship with her God. Yes, the question of her identity is an interesting tangle, but it affects what we learn about the Kencyrath's God and how it touches Jame's people even in its absence. Crazy priests aren't new to fantasy literature, but I like that their insanity, when it happens, arises from the power that makes it possible for them to be priests in the first plac ...more
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This book seems almost incoherent at times. I think I'm missing something. I think I'm missing a LOT of somethings. Often, I felt like I had no clue why things were happening.

For instance, Jame has amnesia. That's mentioned several times. But she remembers her name, her father, her brother, her culture, history, but not other things? What exactly is she forgetting? Despite them SAYING she has amnesia and mentioning a few minor things she has forgotten, it's not really dwelt on. It's not a plot
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I am not rating or reviewing this book, because the author's use of words rubs me the wrong way and my brain keeps analyzing it as a Bulwer-Lytton contest entry. For example:

He didn't see Jame, who was already parallel to him in the shadows.

As opposed to being perpendicular to him in the shadows?

Then Jame saw that a large, indistinct form was taking shape before her.

How does an indistinct form take shape? It started out looking indistinct, but as it took shape I could more clearly see that it wa
Matthew Brown
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series is among my all-time favorites, and I'm a big fan, but I'll try to give it a balanced review. Since this starts a series, this is a series review as well.

I don't want to waste your time, so I'll begin with the series' negatives:

1. The series is unfinished, and there are at least three or four more books to go.

2. The first book and the most recent are a quarter century apart. The writer's style has changed over time; she plots better now, but the excess of imagination and ideas slows.
The city of Tai-tastigon, mysterious as it is, fails to draw me in. It forms no shape in my mind's eye, and slips like shadows from my dreams' landscape.

The main character, Jame, mysterious as she is, with cryptic memories sprouting like weeds from her brain, a thief incomparably skilled yet honorable, a being of as-yet-undiscovered powers, fails to form as a coherent person. Sometimes she is tortured. The next instant, she is carefree and joking. No transition between these two states.

The tone
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The start grabbed me: an amnesiac young woman dashes out of the haunted wasteland and into a complex, baroque city that shares more than a thread of DNA with immortal Lankhmar. She navigates city politics and the paradox of the city's religious life, all while discovering or rediscovering her own talents and history. Whatever the larger issues of this world or worlds, Jame is left to her own devices and for now her entanglements are of her own design.

Each step of her discovery results in a more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
December 5, 2014:

Fantasy may be my first love in literature ... I read it non-stop in my teens and found this book the year it was published. I cherished it--still cherish it--as one of the best fantasy novels that have ever fallen between my hot little hands. Of course in the late 70's, early 80's there was much less to choose from if you were a girl--either the embarrassing woman-in-jeopardy fantasy or hard-core feminista stuff. All I had to compare it to was that awful Dragon Riders of Pern,
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is 2.5 stars, for “it was okay.” There are aspects of the book that I appreciate, but my reading experience was a slow one; when I take more than 3 weeks to read a 265-page fantasy novel, it hasn’t fully engaged me.

God Stalk was first published in 1982, and has evidently become a cult classic. The beginning is strong, with Jame, a warrior woman of sorts who has lost several years of her memory, stumbling into Tai-tastigon, a city inhabited by dozens of minor gods and their worshippers. Not
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-ebooks
I've been vaguely aware of this book, and that it's generally considered a Good Thing, for some time now, so when it impinged upon my consciousness again lately, I popped over to the Kobo shop and bought it (hooray for the magic of ebooks!). And I found'm not sure I think it as brilliant as some people I know seem to, but I did enjoy it.

Jame, injured and pursued by boggles, comes running out of the badlands and into the distinctly weird city of Tai-tastigon. There she finds friends,
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, feminist
This is one of the most epic Mary Sues I have encountered outside of Harry Potter or teenie self-insert het fanfic. The extent of her Mary Sue powers is pretty mind-boggling, in fact, so much so that "What improbable special power will she discover next?" got to be as interesting and suspenseful as the highly adventurous adventure plot - which actually was rather interesting, though not without various serious flaws. The flaws are mostly what you'd expect of a Mary Sue's adventure, at least, if ...more
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I have heard some good things about this series and I wanted to like it. However, this story didn't really work for me. The plot seems to jerk along. I would be reading a section and getting into the story and suddenly the story would move in time and space and something seemingly unrelated would happen. Also, I really couldn't develop any empathy for the characters -- not even Jame the main POV character. This reduced my enjoyment of the story. Things did finally pull together ... but I really ...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
4/5; 4 stars; A-

This was a fantasy story with a female protagonist. There were some pretty dark moments but no so much that it overshadowed the sense of adventure evoked by the story. I enjoyed the different characters, the presence of magic, the strange culture of the city, and all the gods. The appendices at the end were really useful. (In fact, I think I would have enjoyed the story more if I read them before the book.)
Jul 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I loved this book back in the 80s; I can still remember the art on the hardcover edition from my local library, which obviously isn't this cover. Nor is it the cover of the edition which I have, Chronicles of the Kencyrath, which also includes the second book, Dark of the Moon. Anyway, I recently reread it with a slightly different perspective - PC Hodgell was a graduate of Clarion, and somehow that made me read it differently. It's still a reasonably well-crafted book; the city of Tai-tastigon ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed everything but the first and last chapter of the book very much. Those left me with the feeling that the rest of the novel didn’t really matter, and that the bigger questions weren’t answered.

Initially I had trouble getting into the book, as the heroine (Jame) doesn’t know what’s going on now and she has a 10-year memory gap in her past. The initial mysteries who and what Jame is, and what she was doing outside the city of Tai-Tastigon are all presented in chapter 1 but are not resolv
Kate Morgan
I don't understand why this book has such great reviews...when I read it it feels like I have blinders on. She has great ideas but they seem to come together in a shambled way. I keep wanting to like it, wanting to get the plot, or be surprised when some new development happens, but the world feels too colorless (literally, I can't imagine what it looks like, what people look like, why they might feel the way they do). Good authors pull you in, they get you to a state that you know what the char ...more
Assaph Mehr
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another book I remembered very fondly from my teenagehood (I even had a limited-edition hardcover), and recently re-read to see how it withstood the test of time (as well as comparing older and newer young-adult fantasy). I enjoyed it tremendously. Below are my thoughts for prospective readers.

What to Expect

A highly entertaining story, setting up the beginning of an epic fantasy cycle. Hodgell is slowly building the mythology around the people, characters, and places in the world. Hints
Andreea Daia
I am in fact reading an omnibus edition, but since the books were written so far apart, I thought that I would record/review them separately.

My first impression is really good. The writing has been very nice so far and the story catching.

This is a very good book, there is no doubt about it. As most people said, there is one word to characterize it: creative. P.C. Hodgell has a deluge of original ideas. In fact she has so many that the strongest point of this novel is also it
May 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes good fantasy
This series has been a favorite of mine since my early teens, when I found it in a garage-sale stack of paperbacks. I was reading the first couple chapters while Mom was rooting around in the glassware.

THE HILLS ROLLED up to the moon on slopes of wind-bent grass, crested, swept down into tangled brier shadows. Then up again and down, over and over until only aching muscles distinguished between rise and descent, climb and fall. A nigh
Emily Crow
This was a re-read....

God Stalk was one of my favorite books when I was in high school. I must have re-read it a dozen times or so, the last time being in my twenties. I opened it this time around with a bit of trepidation, as lately going back to some of my beloved books has resulted in disappointment.

Luckily, it's still good. The author has a rich writing style and a complex and vivid imagination, and her imaginary city of Tai-Tastigon was as enchanting as ever this time around. Even so, I was
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, a-own-it
I'm not really clear what the point of this book even was - except to set up book 2. There isn't much in the way of a plot, and a lot of the characters have no point. Why does Jame become a thief if she thinks it is wrong and doesn't even really steal much? She becomes apprenticed to the greatest thief in existence, but we really don't see him much or learn anything about her training. It was mostly entertaining to read, just not sure what the plot was or the point - except to meet Marc and get ...more
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
I really debated whether to give this fantasy book (and the subsequent three books in the series) three stars or four. On one hand the plot is complex and background information is revealed in bits and pieces, leaving one to feel rather out of the loop or possibily even stupid. I kept feeling like I was missing something. Also, the author has a tendency to digress into strange dream or alter reality scenes that seem to go on forever. On the other hand, I really dig the protagonist who is a stron ...more
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE this book. I still cannot imagine why it was not picked up by a large publisher and promoted the heck out of. I recently purchased the latest book and wanted to re-read the series. (There's only four, and this is the first one.) It's a sci-fi, fantasy novel, and it is rich, layered, and thoroughly enjoyable. We pick up our heroine, Jame, injured, on the run, suffering from an infected haunt bite. She knows her name, and bits and pieces, but not much else. In this condition she staggers in ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book and its sequels drew me in as few books do. The author drops you right into a fully-formed world, provides very little direct exposition, but I never got lost or thought, "Wait, what's happening here?" The style isn't the lofty, breathtaking prose of much high fantasy I could mention, but like an excellent butler does its job well without calling attention to itself—no mean feat. If I go on I'll just descend into expressing my enthusiasm with random keyboard-mashing, so GO READ THEM AN ...more
Tony Hisgett
Dec 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I tried, but I really couldn’t get into this book. I’m afraid it’s the type of ‘High Fantasy’ I dislike. The author is more concerned with pretentious descriptions and trying to be ‘enigmatic’ instead of concentrating on telling a great story.
K.M. Herkes
Reading the many other reviews for P.C. Hodgell's writing, I'm inclined to conclude that she must be something like cilantro, or truffle oil, or hot Thai peppers. Many people love it, some people hate it, and no one stands on the middle ground of "Eh, it's nice enough, I suppose."

I stand firmly in the love-it camp. I revisit this series once every year or two, as new novels come out, and I always start back at the beginning, with God Stalk.

That's also about how often I treat myself to stir-fry w
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Other books in the series

Kencyrath (9 books)
  • Dark of the Moon (Kencyrath, #2)
  • Seeker's Mask (Kencyrath, #3)
  • To Ride a Rathorn (Kencyrath, #4)
  • Bound in Blood (Kencyrath, #5)
  • Honor's Paradox (Kencyrath, #6)
  • The Sea of Time (Kencyrath, #7)
  • The Gates of Tagmeth (Kencyrath, #8)
  • By Demons Possessed (Kencyrath, #9)
“A face stared up at her from the mirror beside her hand. Was that really what she looked like? Was that really what she looked like, all sharp lines and huge silver-grey eyes? Certainly, no one would ever call those features beautiful, Jame thought ruefully; but were they really enough like a boy's to have fooled that old man the alley? Well, maybe with that long black hair out of sight under a cap. It was a very young face and a defiant one, she thought with a odd sense of detachment, but frightened, too. And those extraordinary eyes... what memories lived in them that she could not share? Stranger, where have you been she asked silently. What have you seen? The thin lips locked in their secrets.

"Ahhh!" Jame said in sudden disgust, tossing away the mirror. Fool, to be obsessed with a past she couldn't even remember. But it was all behind her now.”
“Men said afterward that no blacker night had ever fallen...The wind roared through the city, ripping up slates, clawing at the houses until those within feared that not a wall would stand until morning. They thought they heard voices wailing high above the earth, and those who peered out swore that they saw terrible things as the north wind, the demon wind, bore southward the nightmares of a dying land.” 0 likes
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