Servant of the Underworld

Obsidian and Blood, Book 1
Narrated by: John Telfer
Series: Obsidian and Blood, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 5 mins
4 out of 5 stars (95 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, high priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead. But how do you find someone, living or dead, in a world where blood sacrifices are an everyday occurrence and the very gods stalk the streets?

©2010 Aliette de Bodard (P)2014 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Gripping mystery steeped in blood and ancient Aztec magic. I was enthralled" (Sean Williams)
"Part murder mystery, part well-researched historical novel and part fantasy...The fantasy element blends neatly with the other parts" ( SFX Magazine)
"An Aztec priest of the dead tries to solve a murder mystery, and finds that politics may be even more powerful than magic. A vivid portrayal of an interesting culture in a truly fresh fantasy novel." (Kevin J. Anderson New York Times bestselling author)
"Amid the mud and maize of the Mexica empire, Aliette de Bodard has composed a riveting story of murder, magic and sibling rivalry." (Elizabeth Bear)
"I haven’t enjoyed a proper detective story this much in ages, and the rich setting, monsters and magic just added an extra layer of delight." (David Devereux)

What listeners say about Servant of the Underworld

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed it so much more than I expected!

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to connect with the setting, and it did take me a while to feel invested in the story, but I ended up liking several characters (and loving to dislike several others) and found myself drawn into the mystery. It's a Whodunit with gods and magic.

3 people found this helpful

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A Nice Change of Pace in Fantasy

No pdf at Audible. Visited her website for character list and glossary. It helped alot.

6 people found this helpful

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Not Your Average Detective Story

An interesting take on the magic enabled detective story ... sort of like an Aztec Dresden Files. Put in on in the background and don't worry about catching everything ... it pretty much goes where you would expect it to go, so just enjoy listening.

1 person found this helpful

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Good story but irritatingly written

Well thought out story and lots of excitement but written in a trying and drawn out manner. The tense relation between the nice but irritating main character and his warrior brother is important for the story, but it is overworked in my opinion. The action scenes are squeezed to, litterally, the last drop of sacrifical blood and the whole mix is just a bit too much.

1 person found this helpful

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Unique setting, excellent writing

Truly love this trilogy and wish there was more. The setting alone is enough reason to pick it up, but the way it dives into the culture to create non traditional plots elevates it.

1 person found this helpful

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Couldn't get through it.

What disappointed you about Servant of the Underworld?

I hate when an author makes words up. If you want to make an example of something from a chess game, just do it. Or a new word to describe a king or an official. Maybe one or two throughout the story would be OK but I don't want to learn a new language just to enjoy a story. And those annoying names that he gave the characters. I didn't know one from the next. I had to give up.

Would you be willing to try another one of John Telfer’s performances?

Yes

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

no

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for A. S. Bradshaw
  • A. S. Bradshaw
  • 01-12-16

Great Book with a wonderful setting

Where does Servant of the Underworld rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It ranks towards the top of my audiobook experiences.

The story is deep and compelling with lots of magic to go around. Definitely stuck with my after I finished.

What other book might you compare Servant of the Underworld to, and why?

Off the top of my head perhaps a murder mystery urban fantasy but I can't think of any that come too close

Have you listened to any of John Telfer’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have listened to one other performance but haven't finished that book yet. However, I would say that John Telfer's performance here is absolutely stellar. The locations in the story have some very unusual names and John Telfer pronounces them with ease.

Any additional comments?

There is a slight learning curve with this book as you get used to all of the different names and places, but Telfer guides you through them with an expert hand.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Miklos Tibor
  • 11-04-16

Refreshing story

I longed for a refreshing story like this, distancing myself a bit from European mythology. I haven't had so much suspense at the end of a book in a long time 😆

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-24-20

Great story, well read

**This review is for the whole trilogy**

The good: This story takes place in a world where mythology is 100% real and very transactional - where sacrifices are a genuinely necessary fact of life, for example, and failing to propitiate the gods could lead to the end of the world. Aliette has a lot of fun with this. How does politics work under these circumstances? When the gods can be bought or manipulated but also have their own inhuman agendas? This aspect is great! The story is also a detective story (or series of stories) where rituals and magic stand in for forensics, which it pretty cool too.

The not-so-good: Unlike in Aliette's later Dominion of the Fallen trilogy (which is one of the best fantasy series I've read by some margin) the characterisation is patchy. It's not *bad* but there's less depth than there could be. The whodunnit aspect doesn't work brilliantly because you can't second-guess actions and motivations when the underlying rules are so different from reality. It's highly gendered, which might annoy you (I found it a bit frustrating but it's based on a real culture that I assume was also very gendered, so it's more an observation than a complaint). And finally, if you struggle with names (as I do) then it can be a bit bewildering.

Performance: The reading is very good overall but the main character tends to sound really irritable and snappish a lot. I'm not sure if Aliette intended that or if it's the actor's interpretation. It works, but it does mean he's not too likeable.

Overall: It's good, but it's not *great*. I don't regret spending my credits on it at all but I doubt I'll be listening over and over! If you've not listened to the Dominion of the Fallen trilogy, make that your priority. That truly *is* great.

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  • Kaylia
  • 03-20-16

I wouldn't even give one star

To be honest I really wouldn't waste my money on this book. The book is so confusing with the different characters as all of the names all sound the same. plus the book really drags.