Harbinger of the Storm (Obsidian and Blood 2) by Aliette de Bodard [Book Review]

Is it the end of the fifth world?

The Emperor is dead and so is the protection he provided for the fifth world now threatened by star demons, malicious summoners and inner strife.

It all starts when they find councilor Ocome cut to pieces by a star-demon inside the palace. The demon is on the loose and has to be found. The investigation into the councilor’s death starts to peel an onion of mystery with many surprising twists and turns to be enjoyed.

The succession is far from as clear as it ought to be even though the Emperor named his preference and while the council and the different fractions struggle for power they have a star-demon loose in the palace and the wards protecting the world is getting weaker by the hour.

You can compare the story to a traditional detective story with Acatl as the lead detective and Teomitl as his loyal sidekick muscle with the difference that Acatl is the High Priest of the Dead with magical powers of his own beside the deductive mind needed for the job. Teomitl is a member of the Imperial family, the next leader of the House of Darts and a frequent vessel for his gods and their powers. He is also in love with Acatl’s sister which his family frown on to say the least. The daughter of peasants? It is not done. As his brother the dead Emperor’s chosen successor says.

Acatl continues to show little ambition for power but his life is starting to get intertwined with the ones in power and the gods that favors them. One could say that he is in the hot pan for the duration. I think we get an inkling of how people in a different culture reason and think. That is something I value in a book.

Aliette de Bodard has done it again. Harbinger of the Storm is an action packed Aztec mystery opera with magic, interventions from the gods and more twists and turns than the first book. It even has a love story with amusing snippets here and there, I love formidable women. The story is self contained and can be enjoyed standalone, but you will not want to miss out on the first. I wish it was 2012 already even if the world is going under while I read the final Obsidian and Blood.

About the Author

Aliette de Bodard is becoming one of my favorites. She has written strong fantasy but I have also read her science fiction short stories and they are amazing. I hope we will see both novels in both genres in the future.

Aliette lives in Paris, France and is  half-France, half-Vietnamese. I especially like the way her strong interest in non-westerner cultures affect her writing like here with the Aztec but also mixed in with the Chinese like in The Lost Xuyan Bride.

You find more of her writing at aliettedebodard.com.


Title: Harbinger of the Storm
Series: Obsidian and Blood book 2
Author: Aliette de Bodard
Genre: Aztec Mystery Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robots 2011
Copy: Bought by me
Order from: Amazon US | UK

The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons – and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God’s power.

The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.

When he hears rumours of a sinister cabal of sorcerors he must face up to demons, not all of them his own.

FILE UNDER: Modern Fantasy [Aztec Gods / Star Demons / Secret Sorcery / Blood Rituals