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The Sacrifice Game    by Brian d'Amato order for
Sacrifice Game
by Brian d'Amato
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Sacrifice Game is the sequel to Brian d'Amato's In the Courts of the Sun, a peripatetic near-future thriller that also took the reader (along with a replica of the hero's consciousness) back in time to the year 664 in Central America, and what is now Mexico City and the site of Teotihuacán.

How did Jed DeLanda (born in Guatemala of Mayan descent) end up in this predicament? Trying to save the world of course. Part of him returned to the Mayan world to learn how to better play the sacrifice game, which exploits intuition in sophisticated ways to predict future events. I found his past exploits in both episodes just as gory and surreal as the movie Apocalypto.

Past Jed (in the body of ballplayer Chacal) continues trying to find out how to play the sacrifice game at a higher level. The plan is to send that information to his future self via the burial site of Chacal's corpse. His many adventures include travel Mayan style, battles, a ruthless hipball game, torture, marriage, and eventual internment. His consciousness does return to the present time, but that's not all that comes back.

And present Jed, under the influence of tsam lic drugs, decides that the end of the world is all that makes sense, and starts knocking down all the game dominoes that must fall into place to make it happen. Once the intuitive Marena realizes what he's done, present Jed is on the run. Both Jed's end up fighting themselves in more ways than one, as the author turns his plot upside down and sideways.

If you loved the first book, then The Sacrifice Game is a must read. If you didn't read In the Courts of the Sun, try it first. This second in the trilogy spends more time with the bloodthirsty Mayans than in the present day, and its ending leaves me puzzled as to where the author will take his complex story next. But though I preferred the first book to this second episode, what I enjoyed most in both is the author's witty writing style.

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