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The Waterborn by J. Gregory Keyes

Review by Caleyna

In a society where royal children are carted off by priests never to be seen again, Hezhi knows her future is uncertain. When the 10-yr-olds older cousin disappears, she makes it her missin to find out what happens to all the disappearing children. She crawls through the sewers, her half-Giant guardian at her back, until she realizes the library might hold the answers she needs. She continues her research for years, the clock ticking, knowing that the priests could come for her any day.

Across the world, Perkar is seeking piraku, the only currency that matters in his barbarian world. Most men gain piraku by marrying a girl with many cattle, but Perkar can't do that. No girl is good enough for him after he tastes the carnal delights of the goddess of the stream. When the king comes along and asks Perkar if he'd like to go along on a trip to beg the Lord of the Forest for more land, Perkar readily agrees, thinking he can win land and find a weapon to kill the River God (enemy of his beloved stream) at the same time.

Things escalate out of control for Perkar as he learns that getting what he wants may not be what he wants at all. It doesn't matter what he wants though. The River has set his course, and it can only end when he meets a dark faced little girl with a heart-shaped face.

You'd never guess that that this is J. Gregory Keyes' debut novel. His language and descriptions are rich, painting a vivid world in the readers mind. The setting is unique and wonderful. Gods roam the country-side, infesting trees, rocks, streams, mountains, rivers, grass. . . everything natural. Some of the gods are friendly, some are powerful, some are mad. They're all intersting. I enjoyed reading about a world so populated with gods, many of which are based on Native American myth.

The plot was also good. I was drawn to Hezhi and loved reading her parts. I wasn't so drawn to Perkar, which slowed my reading down considerably. There's nothing techincally wrong with his parts or his character, so I don't really understand why I put the book down when it came to his chapters. The unfortunate thing is that the chapters are short, so I put the book down more than I should have. It took me over three weeks to read this book, which is quite puzzling to me. At just under 400 pages it should have taken me just under 4 days to read. I honestly can't say why it took me so long to read the book b/c I don't have a single complaint about it. Technically the quality is great, and J. Gregory Keyes should become one of the top writers in the genre if he keeps writing such rich and orginal stories. Maybe it's the same problem I have with GRR Martin. Techincally I can recognize that he has a gift for storytelling, but I just don't like the story he is telling. Odd.

It's hard for me to score such a book. If I would have become obsessed with it, I could easily give it five amulets b/c I can't see any obvious flaws, but the very fact that the book didn't have me totally engrossed tells me that it hasn't earned anywhere near five amulets. I guess I'll give it three amulets, and hope that the sequel, Blackgod keeps my attention better.


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