2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Shaman's Drum (Paperback)
This is a good fantasy tale of relationships set in the near future when our organised religions were banned, eventually replaced by paganism and magic. Civilisation is still as we know it, complete with Internet and mobile phones, cars and taxis, but without the angst of religious guilt or conflict. Needless to say, without conflict there is no story. And of course even in a supposedly ideal world there is still crime, jealousy, and a lust for power. Cleverly, how this state of affairs came about is not revealed in detail - save that there was a War of Religion, and most people are now non-committed; we'll get to know more in the prequel. We begin this book with all of the above a given.
The author was a pagan and elevated to High Priestess in a coven before leaving to follow a solo course as a shaman. She is a healer and practices Reiki in her village in France.
Brother Iamo and Shaman Riga have a history, again to be detailed in the prequel; however, this doesn't detract from the story. In effect, we're into the tale running, without any great exposition on their past involvement. This works, due to the charisma of Iamo and Riga - the narrative is first person, from the intermittent point of view of each.
It's as if opposites attract. They're from different sects - Riga is a captain of the Black Shamanic Guild, an assassin, while Iamo is a priest of the Mother Goddess of Light. And such attraction displeases the hierarchy. However, the pair proved themselves very capable when they previously went up against the common enemy, demons.
The new conflict - demons destroy both mentally and physically, `eating the soul piece by piece'. Worse, they seem to be up against the Demon Prince, men-hating Dianics and men-only Gythi as well. Not good, even if they can deploy magic. One problem with magic, it screws up electrical energy, so they can't resort to phones or other equipment.
At the age of seven, Riga was sent away to live in the Guild, already marked down as an assassin. Iamo had a simpler childhood, going to boarding school. The interaction between these two anchors the book. They're intriguing characters, and sometimes playful, sometimes sexy, and even humorous. There are plenty of good images and phrases. `I stared him straight in the black eyes that could start fires faster than flint.'
Riga can go into a trance to seek aid. `I cast back into history and asked the spirits of my ancestors to help me: all the fierce Shamanic people who set the blood and bone in me, all the hunters and farmers, the soldiers and their women. I willed them to inspire my thoughts and strengthen my arm.' Dramatic prose like that is sometimes leavened with humour, such as `It took us a good ten minutes and another cup of tea to strengthen our resolve.' I loved that, so mundane and real! Another - `I was very mature and philosophical about it; I sulked.'
The showdown with the Demon Prince contains fireworks aplenty, with good description. Still, I felt that what followed was anticlimactic; true, worthwhile, to tie the knot in more ways than one, but to my mind over-indulgent. A satisfying read and I'm already curious about the prequel!