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Reviews Comments: God Stalk: One of fantasy's unappreciated classics. Chronicles Of The Kencyrath issue/book review by Morven

For a myriad of reasons, P.C. Hodgell's Kencyrath novels haven't received much love, or luck. It's a shame, because although flawed there's plenty to reward the reader here, and as for the troper, these books are so Trope Overdosed—you'll love it.

The first book, God Stalk, is self-contained enough that you can read it by itself and see if you like the characters and writing style, and stop after that if you wish. The setting, though, is not returned to so far in the series; the great city of Tai-tastigon, shamelessly borrowed in part from Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar but fairly popping with Hodgell's original ideas as well; she casually casts around magical details that other authors could base whole books on.

The book follows amnesiac teenager Jame as she arrives in the city, alone and hunted, and is drawn into its strange worlds of gods and guilds and thieves and cults, and magical happenings of all kinds. Hodgell avoids the typical fantasy races and thus Jame's slowly-revealed nonhumanness doesn't hit home as quick as it otherwise would. The book is joyful and fabulous and dark and bloody and destructive and, in odd moments, hilarious, and if you like fantasy cities, you should read it.

If you love the city more than the character, you might want to stop there, because Jame doesn't go back.

God Stalk would make an excellent graphic novel or animated series, I think. The imagery is vivid and beautiful, the wonders jump off the page, and Jame is such a wonderfully physical heroine. Her acrobatic, fluid unarmed combat and feats of physical daring would make for stunning animated action in the right hands.

Collecting names and roles as she tumbles through the city, Jame is enigmatic, multi-faceted, charismatic, captivating, and deadly. Her cold predatory side turns some people off, I think; they have trouble empathizing with a killer, and Jame's nonhumanness comes out strongest in such scenes. At other times she displays other facets of her oh-so-catlike nature; inquisitive, protective, stubborn, silly, clumsy, graceful.

Perhaps, in the end, you'll like these more if you're a cat person. Jame is, in the end, no housecat, but her untameable felinity is utterly captivating to me, and has kept me entranced and obsessed through all these years.


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