Mother Of Lies (Dodec Books: 2 of 2) by Dave Duncan (book review)

‘Mother Of Lies’ is the sequel to ‘Children Of Chaos’ and the final book in this two book series. Spoilers are inevitable if you haven’t read ‘Children Of Chaos’. so do that first.

The world of Dodec is a dodecahedron with twelve flat faces. Everyone has sworn allegiance to a single god or goddess according to their desires. Mayn is the goddess of wisdom and her followers are seers. Ucr is god of prosperity, followed by merchants. There are thirteen gods in all, helpfully listed in the preface along with major characters.

Fierce warriors from the Vigaelian face of Dodec invaded the Florengian face about sixteen years ago and conquered all before them. The doge of Celebre, the richest city in Florengia, was forced to hand over his children as hostages to Stralg Hragson, bloodlord of the Heroes of Weru. They were taken back to Vigaelia and their stories are told in book one. At the end of which they have been reunited and are making their way back home with Saltaja Hragsdor, Mother of Lies, in hot pursuit.

While they were gone, many on the Florengian face joined the Heroes of Weru and learned to fight. By dedicating themselves to Weru, god of storm and battle, they gain the power to ‘battleform’ into huge, deadly animals. Then they turned on the invaders and almost defeated them, but at great cost. Most cities are devastated. Celebre is still intact but the old doge is dying and there is much contention over who will succeed him. His legitimate children are on the way from Vigaelia, but no one in Florengia knows it yet. Dantio is a seer, Orlad a warrior and daughter Fabia a powerful sorceress who, like Saltaja Hragsdor herself, is secretly allied to the death goddess Xaran. The doge’s wife Olivia has a bastard son by Stralg Hragson, the result of rape, who thinks he should be heir. Marno Cavotti, the leader who has fought for years to liberate his homeland, might have his own ideas about that and he has an army.

As in ‘Children Of Chaos’, the story is told from multiple points of view, a different character every chapter. Each chapter starts with the character’s name in block capitals starting a sentence. ‘MARNO CAVOTTI heard the warbeasts’ fury as he dived from the parapet.’ This deft technique reminds you of the varied cast and helps you follow the story. There’s a lot to be said for clarity in commercial fiction writing. The yarn moves at a ripping pace and is sufficiently intriguing to keep you turning pages.

I enjoyed the book but not quite as much as the first one, perhaps because the children of Celebre started out quite helpless there and grew stronger through their trials. Here they are already formidable. Even so, it’s a fine tale with several twists and a neat resolution. Dave Duncan’s plotting reminds me somewhat of Kevin J. Anderson but he has more likeable characters and his prose style is smoother. He departed this vale of tears before I discovered him but left over thirty books in his wake so if you like this series, as I do, there are plenty of other books available.

Eamonn Murphy

May 2023

(pub: TOR/Forge, 2007. 348 page hardback. Price: $24.95 (US), $31.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1484-0)

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