Reading: Godstalk, by P.C. Hodgell, Part Three

galleryphoto_872_lgsmallThough Godstalk is generally believed by fans to be the best book in the series, it does have some flaws. The biggest being the sudden shifts in pov at certain points. Very few fans will point this out however, though they tend to be more critical of later books. (I did not actually spot many of the problems until after I had read the book a few times.)

Even with taking the flaws into account, Godstalk’s is one of my favorite novels because of the rich prose, surreal background and the engaging main character. Jame is curious as a cat, and we soon learn that piquing that curiosity results in the “cat” deciding to play with what interests her. In this particular chapter, Jame will become very personally interested in Tai-tastigon’s god infestation, thanks to an encounter with a priest.

Book I: Tatters of Dust Chapter Three Into the Labyrinth

So! Our Heroine intends to find the Temple of the Three Faced God in order to find out if there is an honorable way to take up a life of crime. (Jame is not in any way deterred by seeing the “Mercy Seat,” where criminals are ritually flayed.) She also makes a number of discoveries about the gods of Tai-tastigon. The first thing she discovers is that many of the gods are actually pretty useful! There is a god who purifies sewer water in a disturbingly physical manner, and a god who is apparently in charge of powering the streetlights. The second thing she discovers is that no one particularly likes her god, and when she asks for directions to the temple, she is treated very rudely!

Jame happens upon a priest who is consulting a diviner. He is not particularly happy about the fortune he receives, but the diviner is not particularly moved by his arguments; after all, he’s the one who asked if all would be well. (Spoiler: the answer is no.) Then the diviner spots Jame and tells her that the priest is not a bad man, so please go easy on him. Jame is very nonplussed by this interaction, and shrugs it off. When she asks the priest for directions he completely flips his lid at her. (She also learns that the priest’s name is Loogan and his god is not very popular. Your boding should be fored right about now.)

After this encounter, Jame takes to the roofs in hopes of spotting the temple. Unfortunately, Tai-tastigon’s roofs are occupied by the denizens of the Cloud Kingdom, and they do not take kindly to trespassers. Jame manages to avoid being defenestrated, which greatly impresses the traceur who attempted to pitch her off of the roof. He immediately invites her to visit the king and acquire permission to parkour. One of the Cloudies even shows her where the temple is. The Cloudie also explains that part the reason why people are so touchy about her god is because the appearance of His, Her or Its temple happened around the same time that a bunch of disasters happened. (Yeah, you know, that entire slow apocalypse that been going on since the Kencyr showed up with Perimal Darkling breathing down their necks.)

 Once she reaches the temple, we also discover that Jame may have a perfectly good reason to hate her god’s priests. This would be in part because the priest that served at the keep where she grew up absconded with a female companion, forcing his brother to assume the responsibility of protecting the keep from the effects of simply being way too close to Perimal Darkling. (The brother ended up losing his mind.) It would also be because Ishtier, the priest of this particular temple is a huge jerk. Ishtier manages to be such a complete tool that Jame is forced to go over his head and seek advice from a higher authority.

Yes. Jame directly asks her god if it’s okay to steal, and gets an actual answer. She’s told that she isn’t allowed to steal from other Kencyr, but she is allowed to steal form anyone else as long as she does so honorably. (“…until in your thoughtlessness, you destroy them.”) Having gotten her answer, she absconds.

When she gets home, she finds that Marplet’s son Niggen is attacking one of his father’s employees. Jame rushes to the girl’s rescue, and beats Niggen up. (Then she apologizes to Cleppety for giving Marplet an excuse to get the Res a B’tyrr into trouble.) When Marplet arrives with representatives from the City Guard in tow, he is completely disgusted to discover that Niggen had been beaten up by a girl. He stomps back to the Skyrrman and thrashes the servant, kicking her out of the inn. The girl is promptly taken in by Cleppety and Tubain, causing Jame to wonder if she’d been adopted in a similar manner.

Book I: Tatters of Dust Chapter Four The Heart of the Maze

Jame arrives at Penari’s home which is a literal maze! She cleverly brought a spool of thread so she doesn’t get lost, but is foiled by a floor that gives way beneath her feet. After nearly getting gummed to death by Penari’s pet Moon Python Monster she’s sent out to buy a pig for Monster’s dinner, and then she’s taken to the Thieves Guild where she’s enlisted as Penari’s apprentice. (Penari continues to labor under the illusion that Jame is a boy due to her general state of flatness. Pobre Jame.)

Jame has a number of encounters while at the guild hall. First she meets Theocandi, Penari’s brother. Theocandi attempts to hire Jame as his agent, but Jame ignores the overture. She discovers that the kid she had seen while rescuing Penari from toughs is Theocandi’s grand kid.

Then she has an encounter with a mysterious person named Bane who is quite insistent that she join him at a tavern called The Three Legg’d Dog. Jame does not agree! Her exchange with the person in question is interrupted by a young man. Jame realizes that she has become the bone of contention in this encounter and declines to play along. She heads off, only to be followed by the young man whose name

Is Dallen, also known as Dally. From Dallen, Jame learns that there are two factions within the thieves guild. The first is Theocandi’s bunch, lead more or less by Bane who is basically a barely in control monster. The other is led by Dally’s brother Men-dalis. (Of whom we know very little except that Dally idolizes his older brother.)

Jame ends up going to a tavern called The Moon in Splendor with Dally. While there she’s given a challenge involving drinking about a gallon of bear. Jame declines this challenge and asks for an alternative challenge. An apprentice proposes that she steal the Cloud King’s britches, which she accepts! (She does not actually steal them. Since she was invited to the Cloud Kings court by Dandello, all she had to do was ask about them, after explaining why she needed them.)

A very unfortunate thief named Scramp calls her a liar concerning how she got the trousers but quickly learns that you do not ever call a Kencyr a liar because being called a liar will make them quite homicidal!


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Filed under fantasy, Godstalk, non-earth, P.C. Hodgell, Reading

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