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Mother of Lies    by Dave Duncan order for
Mother of Lies
by Dave Duncan
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Mother of Lies follows Children of Chaos as the conclusion to Dave Duncan's action-packed Dodec duo. In the first book, Bloodlord Stralg led a fanatical warrior cult, the Vigaelian Werists - who can transform at will into practically invulnerable war-beasts - to conquer the Florengian Face. The doge of the greatest city, Celebre, was forced to surrender his four small children to Stralg as hostages. They were taken across the ice barrier, separated, and raised in circumstances that scarred them physically and mentally. In Children of Chaos, we learned what happened to them, and saw them reunited as adults.

All four have been dedicated to different gods - celebrated artist Benard to Anziel, goddess of beauty; Orlando morphed into Werist Orlad; Dantio has become a Seer and Witness, who can see what's happening at a distance and must tell the truth; and Fabia is a Chosen of Xaran, the goddess of death and mother of lies. Each of them carries the very rare seasoning, which means that they will have a fateful impact on events. More than one sibling hopes to become the next ruler of Celebre. They journey together and get to know each other a little, before they're forced to split up, after Benard makes a sacrifice, defeats an enemy, and loses his seasoning.

Saltaja, Queen of Shadows, has long ruled the Vigaelian Face through mind control. Also a Chosen of Xaran, she has taken a different path from Fabia, feeding the goddess with regular, ruthless slaughter. After parting from Benard, his siblings make a perilous journey over the Ice, racing to do so ahead of Saltaja and her troops. On the Florengian Face, freedom fighters under the legendary Mutineer, Florengian Werist Marno Cavotti, have kept the pressure on Stralg's horde, though most cities - aside from the greatest, Celebre - have been destroyed in the process. It's in Celebre again that all parties - including the hostages' half-brother Chies, born of Stralg's rape of their mother Oliva - come together in a series of violent confrontations.

As always, Dave Duncan rides his characters hard, but delivers a unique, masterfully built, very colorful fantasy world, with epic - and very gory - action, and an ultimately satisfying ending. And, just for fun, in a bonus Appendix, he explains to those interested in the technical aspects, why 'the Dodecians' view of their world cannot be even remotely correct.'

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