Dance of the Gods - Mayer Brenner

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Robot_Raptor
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Dance of the Gods - Mayer Brenner

Postby Robot_Raptor » Fri May 13, 2011 7:59 pm UTC

So i'm in the middle of re-reading what is my favorite fantasy series, "The Dance of the Gods" - By Mayer Alan Brenner. It's basically a smarter, more snarky discworld, without the same element of silliness that Pratchett brings to his books.

It came out in the late 80s and early 90s, to very little fanfare, and for a few good reasons:

What was it about The Dance of Gods, then?

Why was The Dance of Gods such a hard sell when it came out? Some possible reasons:

Too much plot and too many characters: the books are built around a sprawling crowd of raffish characters, too smart by half for their own good and more than a little self-reflective, in a series of overlapping and colliding storylines. Some of the cast members who appear in the first book in the series, Spell of Catastrophe (originally published as Catastrophe's Spell), include:

Maximillian, the Vaguely Disreputable - free-lance adventurer and nostalgic technologist

The Creeping Sword - hard-boiled nom-de-plume

Zalzyn Shaa - physician, occasional bureaucrat, and man with a curse

The Great Karlini - research thaumaturge

The former Lion of the Oolvaan Plain - retired barbarian

Jurtan Mont - youth with an unusually melodic seizure disorder

Haddo - animal wrangler and pilot

Assorted gods, revolutionaries, insurgents, servitors, and cataclysms - the traditional cast of thousands

Insufficient reverence for traditional tropes: for example, many of the characters are less than impressed by the use of magic. Rather than experiencing a sense of wonder, they're more likely to respond to a spell casting with a muttered "yeah, whatever," and try to bang you over the head with a skillet while your invocation is still taking shape.

An approach to magic more suited to engineers or programmers than mystics: more procedure-based than object-oriented, perhaps, but communing with nature is usually the last thing on these practitioners' minds. For that matter, I'm not sure the combination of magic-code hackers, molecular nanotech, and network-mediated consensual reality of the gods is something that could ever be summarized on a back-of-the-book blurb.

No grand battles between good and evil: more of a struggle between self-interest and unintended consequences.

Too funny to be serious and too serious to be funny: it's the characters, really, not me! Not my fault they approach their roles with a jaundiced eye and a sarcastic streak...



All of which make it a perfect book for the sort of person I am. Me and a few friends I shared it with back in the day, have taken to calling them the "Screwy Castle Books" because of what is still one of my favorite set pieces ever. There's a castle, which has a habit of disappearing and randomly appearing in a new place. Whenever it shows up, it appears in a huge tornado, and thanks to its rotation and the giant screw it's built on, drills itself into the ground.

All the books are available free to download here, though I don't think they're intended to be available, as that page isn't linked from anywhere else on the author's site. Personally, for this read through I bought the kindle versions, as the author deserves the money.

Have any of you read these?

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