Buy Used
Used - Good See details
Price: 2.81

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Servant of the Underworld: Obsidian and Blood Trilogy, Book I [Paperback]

Aliette de Bodard
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback --  
Unknown Binding --  

Book Description

7 Jan 2010

Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, High Priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Aliette De Bodard is the hottest rising star in world SF and Fantasy, blending ancient crimes with wild imagination. This is her debut novel.

FILE UNDER: Modern Fantasy [The Aztecs / Locked room mystery / Human sacrifice / Destroy the Gods]

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007346549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007346547
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,126,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aliette de Bodard is a half-French, half-Vietnamese computer and history geek who lives in Paris. In her spare time, she writes speculative fiction. Her short stories has appeared in many venues, including Asimov's, Interzone and the Year's Best Science Fiction. She has been shortlisted for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and for the British Science Fiction Association Awards.
She has a special interest in non-Western civilisations, particularly Ancient China and Ancient Mesoamerica. Her novel Servant of the Underworld is the first in a trilogy of Aztec fantasy noir: the sequel Harbinger of the Storm will be published in 2011.

Product Description


Praise for Aliette’s short fiction:
“The plot is concise yet intricate, the dialogue is superb, and the writing flows naturally”
- The Fix, reviewing Lonely Heart (Black Static, 2009)

“Beautifully written… the issue's most compelling and elegantly composed drama.”
- Tangent Online, reviewing Deer Flight (Interzone)

“The quality of de Bodard’s writing shines through”
- The Fix, reviewing Dragon Feasts (Andromeda Spaceways)

“It’s one of those stories where to write too much about it would rob the reader of much of the pleasure.”
- The Fix, reviewing Horus Ascending (Intergalactic Medicine Show)

About the Author

Aliette de Bodard is a writer and computer specialist whose short fiction has already brought her a John W Campbell Award nomination, for best newcomer.

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing supernatural murder mystery... 26 Mar 2010
By Simon McMahon VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this novel with little idea of what to expect and I have to say this book hooked me pretty early on. The story, as outlined above, revolves around the murder of a priestess. It's written from the 1st person perspective and we observe the story through the eyes of Acatl, the high priest of Mictlantecuhtli, god of death and the underworld who is assigned to investigate the killing. Pretty quickly the matter becomes personal and the very existence of the planet is placed in jeopardy...

Readers who are expecting a straight forward historical whodunnit should be warned. Elements of the book read more like a fantasy novel. Acatl has access to magic and indeed is soon encountering gods both in human form on earth and in their own domains. Powerful supernatural forces become involved both on the side of Acatl and ranged against him. I found this aspect of the book fascinating and must admit to looking certain names up on the interweb.

Talking of names... the residents of the Aztec empire don't make things easy and many of the names in the book can be tongue twisters (take the aforementioned King of the Underworld, Mictlantecuhtli). I personally found this great a source of great enjoyment, but I love weird things like that.

The story forges ahead at a pretty fast pace and it's a difficult book to put down. It weaves numerous plot strands together quite cleverly and deals with matters of gods and humans equally well. The glimpses we get of the other levels of existence which the gods inhabit are fascinating and I hope these are explored further in the future.

The resolution of the mystery is well handled. Too often with books like this I feel a little dissapointed at the end, but in this case I was very happy and am looking forward to the sequel. Recommended.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, 1480 a princess priestess vanishes from her room, but nothing is what it seems. The priest of death, Acati is called to investigate, but is horrified when he discovers his estranged brother, Neutemoc, a Jaguar Knight, is implicated in the presumed murder of the missing girl. Now Acati must investigate the situation and find out the truth ultimately to save his warrior brother from the penalty of death and to uncover the real murderer. But everywhere Acati turns, new secrets and leads are uncovered and nothing is what is seems on the surface.

Servant of the Underworld reads very similar to C. J. Sansom's medieval murder mysteries, with the exception that this is set in (well researched) Aztec times and has supernatural fantasy elements. I really enjoyed this book, and my only gripe is the very long Aztec names could be a little bit distracting. Other than that, this is a suspenseful tale and a very fast read for me, with plenty of cliffhangers to keep me turning the pages to reach the final resolution of this "whodunit" and "closed room" novel with a difference.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Fantasy 5 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are few books of which I can truly say, it could hardly bear to put it down, but this was one of them. Even at the end of chapters I was left eager to find out what came next. This is a wonderful cross-genre work, combining epic fantasy with mystery perfectly. I was worried that it might turn out to be just a gimmick to have the main character an Aztec priest in an alternate world where magic and gods were real, just a novelty setting in a long line of novelties - Roman detectives, medieval detectives, vampire detectives... But Servant of the Underworld is no gimmick. This is high class writing, well-researched and presenting the information the uninformed reader (like me) needs about the subject matter in such a way as not to seem dry or like nonfiction masquerading as thriller. The characters take on a life of their own, and I want to see more of them, to find out how their relationships work out and where they go in the future. It has been a long time since a fantasy novel had an effect like that on me - too many have characters which are mere ciphers, two-dimensional heroes without any real personality. This is one I will read again, and I really look forward to volume two.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aztec mystery/fantasy - well done! 1 Feb 2010
By Paul Lynch VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This was my first encounter with Acatl and Aliette de Bodard, and it was an enjoyable meeting. May there be many more!

This novel is a fantasy/mystery based in 16th century Mexico; the Aztec empire, to be exact. Our detective is the High Priest of the Dead, which is a curiously less blood-thirsty priesthood than the rest of the (real) Aztec clergy were. The gods are real and take their parts in this story; the opening scene is a magical invocation where we aren't quite sure if the magic effects are real or imagined - but this is resolved shortly, coming down firmly on the side of magic as a possible murder scene is investigated.

Along the way we meet real characters with some depth who, presumably, have figured in previous Acatl short stories, as we move towards a resolution of the initial murder. The participants all have some depth to them: Acatl is a competent and perceptive investigator, although not peculiarly unsuited to be a high priest, and he has his flaws that are clear to the reader, although less so to him. It is rare to see such competent character handling in a genre novel, let alone a first one.

I wasn't entirely comfortable with Acatl as High Priest; there seemed to have been a lot of background unrevealed that would be required to explain his promotion, which may possibly be intended to come out in later stories. The transition from a form of locked room murder mystery into epic swords and sorcery fantasy was not entirely a happy one - the last several chapters were a big swirl of purple prose that jarred with the mystery format, although the relevant identities were all revealed satisfactorily as that genre demands.

Here's a tip for readers who find Aztec names troublesome: just look at the first syllable; the author has managed to keep them reasonably unique and pronounceable if you ignore the rest of the name. At least they are pronounceable using English conventions, unlike Gaelic names!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!
This charming books is essentially a noir-ish whodunnit with added Aztec magic & gods - think historical novel in a particularly exotic setting, with added supernatural fantasy... Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2012 by Sam Woodward
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good debut
I ordered this novel with no real idea of what it would be like but having an interest in South American ancient history and I must admit I found the background and history grabbed... Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by J. Patterson
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual setting, interesting debut
I must admit, I'd never seen a historical-fantasy set in this particular time-period and milieu, and was intrigued enough by the setting to give it a go. Read more
Published on 22 Sep 2011 by Paul Fillery
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm...
I'm afraid I seriously struggled to get into this book, and after the third attempt to read it I have now put it aside. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 2011 by Mara Greenwood
2.0 out of 5 stars Just couldn't get in to it
I just couldn't get into this story at all.

The characters didn't feel alive and I didn't care a less what happened to them. After 150 pages, I gave up.
Published on 20 Jan 2011 by Rendition
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly enjoyable murder/mystery set in the world of the Aztecs
Given that this is the first full length novel written by Aliette De Bodard, I was impressed... when I found out it wasn't written in the authors native language I was gobsmacked. Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2010 by Mr. A. J. D. White
3.0 out of 5 stars Magical history mystery
I've always enjoyed historical murder mysteries, so thought that this one was worth a shot as I've not seen one set in the Aztec Empire before. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and new .... but where does it go from here ....
This is a very interesting novel and one I'd like to see more of. What we have here is an author with a great imagination looking for a new niche. It's a bit of a lot of genres. Read more
Published on 5 July 2010 by A. Cresswell
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
I don't know why but I was expecting more to the story than what is offered.
There was nothing to really pull me in, no likeable characters for me and even the plot could have... Read more
Published on 27 May 2010 by Smatch
3.0 out of 5 stars Complex, but too clever for it's own good
I have to confess I have quite a soft spot for historical fiction, usually my sphere of enjoyment is focused on a more recent time period but I dived into Servant of the Underworld... Read more
Published on 6 May 2010 by Chris Chalk
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category