Book Recommandation - Children of Chaos


Posted on : 9/03/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

As with most stories that I tell, first I have to tell you this story so you will understand the one I really want to tell.

Dave Duncan is an outstanding SFF writer.  He creates fantastic worlds complete with unique religions, magics, mythologies, and moral codes.  While I'm certain that he puts a lot of work into the back story of each world, his books make it seem an effortless act of creation on his part.

I first ran into Mr. Duncan's work while reading his "Tales of the King's Blades" series.  His "Chronicles of the King‘s Blades" were also wonderful reads.  These series are placed in a world where the monarchs of one kingdom are protected by Blades.  These Blades are recruited as youngsters and educated at a sort of monastery where they learn not only how to read and write, but also how to swing a sword to deadly ends.  "Graduation" consists of being magically bound to protect the person that plunges a sword in the graduate's chest.

Typically, this is the king.  Although he is known to provide such protection to other important people in his kingdom.

From that moment on, the Blade is compelled to protect that person.  Failing in that task results in a rage driving the Blade into suicide or madness.  Sometimes both.

Within that framework, Mr. Duncan creates at least four different sub-cultures.  One based on Czarist Russia.  One based on Aztec sun worship.  One that is Polynesian.  And of course one that has a western (i.e. middle ages Europe) feel to it.

Really good stuff.

So it was with that background that I picked up his "Children of Chaos" at the local library.

The world in this book is perceived by its inhabitants as having twelve distinct sides; a dodecahedron.  The name of the world naturally is "Dodec".  They believe that in wandering their world, they travel "over the edge" to an adjacent "face".  Mr. Duncan makes the apt point in his preface that it has not been a terribly long time since most of humanity considered our world to be flat.

The pantheon of dodec includes eleven gods and goddesses.  Which would seem a little odd in that the world has twelve sides.

There is a twelfth goddess named Xaran that represents death.  It seems that humanity is inclined to deny death where ever it is found.

In this world it is possible for a person to dedicate themselves to a single god or goddess.  Doing so requires some sort of sacrifice.  For example, disciples of Eriander, the androgynous god/goddess of sex and madness, obtain a powerful, enhanced sex appeal.  However the price for this gift is that they can never be truly loved.  They are masters of engaging in sex.  But no one will ever see them as anything more than an object of sexual desire.

The story centers around a group dedicated to the war god Weru.  They are called Werists.  It isn't a coincident that those names are close to the prefix "were" that we use in terms like "werewolf".  Werists gain the ability to change into a "battleform" that is obviously modeled after some sort of human-beast hybrid.

Werists had traveled to conquer an adjoining face.  At one city, they offer peace to the city's doge; a sort of elected king-for-life.  In exchange, they take his young children as hostages.

"Children of Chaos" is about those children after they have become adults, their attempts to escape the Werists, and the people that either help or hinder them along the way.

As with Dave Duncan's other works, this book is a ton of fun.  He has prepared a fully formed world and brought characters to life on the page.  What a wonderful read.

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