It took a long while to get into this novel. It wasn’t bad, or boring, it’s just that I didn’t have a sense of where it was going.
However, I think it mimics the slow, pondering, nature of one of the central characters, a god who happens to inhabit a rock. So once it gets up to speed and all the elements click into place, it really is quite a spectacular ending.
There isn’t a lot of fighting in this novel, it’s more about intrigue like in A Memory Called Empire. In this case it is Eolo, aide to the Heir to Raven’s Lease, has to unravel a mystery – but one that has its foundations long before he was born (and involving a war between gods). We’re told the story through the gods eyes, The Strength and Patience of the Hill, who tells the story of itself, and what Eolo does day to day to unravel this mystery.
I liked all the characters, Eolo especially, who is just so solid and reasonable, which is always delightful. I really liked The Strength and Patience of the Hill as well, and thought the narrative technique was really fascinating. The only problem is that it makes some of the other characters seem a bit too irrational (like poor Mawat, the Heir to Raven’s Lease.) I liked that there were strong women to boot (and Eolo appears to be a transgender man) in a fantasy setting.
I also really loved the mythology building of all the different gods, and how they bargain. The myth making was delightful. Also how Eolo has to basically be so transgressive to get to the heart of the mystery.
Anyway, it was lots of fun, I kind of wish there was a sequel, but this was so satisfying in its own way that you almost hope there isn’t.