I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.

God Stalk

Cover of God Stalk.

God Stalk is a lot, and I think it’s too much. The world is rich and the author glosses over much of it – which is something I like when done well (the city the book takes place in has strong China Mieville vibes!), but here it feels hasty and unfortunate.

Things going on at the same time: Our protagonist has selective memory loss and should really try to figure out what has happened to her, her family, her world. She also wants to carry some sacred artifacts to her twin brother, who she’s not sure how to find. This is an absolute priority that she treats with little urgency. She comes to the city, and turns into a dancer, a thief apprentice with moral qualms, a god killer, and some other things.

The pacing is odd. The whole first chapter, for example, the protagonist is just on the verge of collapse, yet running around, fighting a bit, collapsing a bit more. Then there are parts that have deadly combat, parts with philosophy about how the gods work, and parts that are just the protagonist hanging out with their awesome pet cat? Any side characters (friend and foes) felt distant and vague to me, and they die easily and gruesomely. Queerness is not entirely played as a joke, when it appears, which is as much as you can expect from early 80s fantasy, I suppose.

I’m not sure why this felt more vague and less good to me than the Bas-Lag books – possibly because it both has the amazing confusing world and hints at a giant backstory, that is equal parts long-term (our protagonist’s people has come from a different world thousands of years ago) and short-term (final reveal about her family). I was just … not convinced, sad as I was about it. There’s a lot of good stuff – it’s just so very uneaven.