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?