Mother of Lies
Dave Duncan
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Buy *Mother of Lies* by Dave Duncan

Mother of Lies
Dave Duncan
432 pages
March 2008
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Mother of Lies is the second book in Duncan's new duology, which is set in a world that has the shape of a dodecahedron. It's a continuation of the previous book, Children of Chaos, which should be read first.

The story involves two of the twelve faces: the warm Florengian Face, which has ample farm lands, and the colder, harsher Vigaelian Face. They are separated by an icy mountain range which makes moving from one Face to another difficult. The bloodlord Stralg first conquered his own Vigaelian Face, and fifteen years ago he conquered the Florengian Face. Stralg's brothers and sister rule the Vigaelians while he still leads the war effort against the Florengians. Stralg is a follower of the god of War and Storms, Weru, who gives his followers the ability to change into fearsome warbeasts who are far stronger and faster than humans. The Florengians did not worship Weru the same way, so they do not have warbeasts of their own.

But the war is going badly. More and more of the Florengian troops that Stralg has trained to rule Florengia in his name flee and join the troops of the Mutineer, Marno Cavotti. The Florengian freedom fighters are close to winning the war against the bloodlord - if only they can co-operate with each other long enough, and if there's anything left of the fertile Face after the dust settles. Only one of the great Florengian cities still stands. Celebre is one of the largest and oldest of the Florengian cities, and it has a high strategic value to military rulers as well as morale to the civilians.

Fifteen years ago, the doge of Celebre was froced to give his four young children as hostages to the bloodlord in order to preserve his city. Now the doge is very near death, his wife rules in his name, and his children are still gone. The only heir he has is the son whom his wife bore after Stralg raped her. The young boy idolizes his sire, and the city's council won't accept the boy as their next ruler. The Mutineer has his own sights on the throne of Celebre as well - both as a possible ruler and as a trap to the bloodlord.

The doge's surviving children are returning to Florengia. The young adults continue their journey in Vigaelia from the previous book: Benard, the gentle artist; the mutinous Orland, who can change into a warbeast; and their sister Fabia, who worships Xaran, the goddess of Death and Lies but does not want to use her powers to evil. Together with Benard's lover, who is the hereditary ruler of the city-state Kosord and married to one of Stralg's brothers, Fabia's foster father, and Orland's band of brother soldiers, they flee Stralg's brother and his forces. They find out that there are rebel forces even in the Vigaelia who might help them against the tyrant's siblings. They have to try to fight hordes of warbeasts, outwit Stralg's sister, Saltaja, who is a powerful Chosen of Xaran, work together with siblings they do not know and make their way through the deadly ice to home and parents which they do not even remember. If they do make it home, only one person can rule Celebre.

Duncan weaves an exciting, fast-paced tale of political intrigue and personal decisions. The central characters are three-dimensional and quite different from each other. In addition to the vast tapestry of characters from the last book, he introduces three new ones: Oliva, the dogaressa ruler of Celebre; her son, Chies, who is often at odds with his mother; and the Mutineer Marno Cavotti. Just as the characters in the previous book gave the reader a very wide view of the world of Vigaelia, these three characters give a mixed view of Florengia.

The first book shows very well how the warbeasts work, how it feels to change into a one, and what it is like to fight as a one. In this book, we are treated to an intimate look at how the seers' powers work and what it feels like to use them. The Witnesses are powerful people and a fascinating part of the world.

Mother of Lies is somewhat bloodier than the previous book, but the plot centers still on political intrigue and character interaction, not on senseless violence. There are also some cultural differences between Vigaelians and Florengias but not too many. Duncan keeps surprising the reader right to the last chapter. Even those characters who seem to be on the same side can turn into enemies.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Mervi Hamalainen, 2007

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