To quote Violette Malan’s bio,
Violette Malan has a PhD from York University in 18th-Century English Literature, but reports that most people don’t hold it against her. She started reading fantasy and science fiction at the age of eight, and was writing stories not long after. Violette has been a book reviewer, and has written feature articles on genre writing and literature for the Kingston Whig Standard. She has taught creative writing, English as a second language, Spanish, beginner’s French, and choreography for strippers. On occasion she’s worked as an administrative assistant, and a carpenter’s helper. Her most unusual job was translating letters between lovers, one of whom spoke only English, the other only Spanish.
Violette is co-founder of the Scene of the Crime Festival on Wolfe Island, a single-day event focusing on Canadian crime writing, and celebrating the birthplace of Grant Allen, Canada’s first crime writer. Violette is currently the president of the festival board, but in the past she’s given writing workshops, and was the original organizer and co-judge of The Wolfe Island Prize for first crime fiction, which is sponsored by the festival.
2007’s The Sleeping God is the first volume in Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno series.
The contract seemed so straightforward. Escort a young woman to her nation’s capital. Unfortunately for Dhulyn and Parno, they’re heading for the capital of Imrion and disquieting events are underway.
There are four kinds of Marked — Menders, Finders, Healers, and Seers — and each variety is useful. How bizarre, therefore, that the Jaldean New Believers have singled the Marked out as enemies of the people, freaks whose abilities could doom the world itself by waking the Sleeping God. Still, social injustice is generally only of interest to mercenaries to the extent that it generates opportunities to sell their services.
Except … Dhulyn is a Seer. Untrained and unreliable in the use of her Mark, she prefers to keep her gift secret. She’s still a potential target for the New Faith’s faithful, should they learn what she is.
Dhulyn and Parno are drawn into what they at first assume is a garden-variety dynastic succession squabble, of the “kill the previous office holder and anyone who complains” variety. Borderline civil wars are good for the mercenary business; only Dhulyn and Parno’s personal proximity to the coup makes it problematic for them.
The coup and the rise in religious extremism are not coincidental. The puppetmaster behind both needs the Marked out of the way before the Marked summon up the Sleeping God, which might foil the grand scheme. What the puppetmaster does not know: the Marked have absolutely no idea how to wake the Sleeping God.
I’ve read something like this before but do you think I can remember what it was? Very annoying, because I am sure fans of whatever it was would like this and vice versa.
Once again, this is work that illustrates the importance of documentation, and the consequences of letting it slip.
Vital records are lost.
Crucial information is left out because the technical writer assumes it’s something everyone knows, so there’s no need to mention it.
The language changes.
It’s kind of reassuring to see the same processes at work in a secondary fantasy world as in the modern world.
The save-the-world plot was a little too bog-standard-fantasy-trope for me, but the book was redeemed by Dhulyn and Parno, who are intriguing characters. The author takes a considerably less romantic view of mercenaries than one often sees (Mary Gentle aside). Dhulyn and Parno may do their best to avoid unpaid violence and they may prefer bodyguarding to serving as foot soldiers … but in the end, they make their living trading violence or the threat of it for money. It’s an exciting life but unlikely to be a long one.