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I grew up with the ancient Greek and Roman gods and can claim a fair amount of familiarity with that mythos as well as a passing acquaintance with a few other canons. Overall, the premise of The Dream King’s Courier: Payback exceeded expectations. There were many parallels to the Greek Olympiad, but it was no copy. The Pantheon offered in this book is an assortment of gods of varying gifts, personalities, motivations, and degrees of power. Each god was unquestionably an individual. Their organizations, comprised of humans dedicated to their service, varied in size, structure, and function. Each of the gods who appeared in the narrative had a unique role to play that actively contributed to the story. There were no token characters or mass introductions to showcase the author’s creativity in forming her spectrum of deities. In fact, background information on the gods was very cleverly revealed in the course of Gwen’s journey, so that, by the time the knowledge became critical, the reader was sufficiently informed, but even as the novel closes, the reader is still aware that there is plenty more to know (perhaps to be revealed in future books). In other words, information was not statically imparted and therefore gave that vitality to the story.
One of the wonderful elements of this story was the capacity for character growth. Because the gods are so humanized, they are flawed and limited characters, which then allows them to learn and change much like any other human. Evidence of growth and development is especially abundant in Gwen, our protagonist, but it is also extremely noticeable in each of the other characters: primary and secondary actors alike. This makes the characters much more real as well as more relatable (and likable, in some cases).
Whenever I read a new fantasy book/author/series, I am always aware of an element of risk. It is so easy for fantasy to get caught up in itself and totally divorce from any semblance of reality as I know it, to get caught up in a message and employ an overabundance of thinly-disguised metaphors that correspond to real entities about which the author wishes to make a statement, or to get caught up in cliches and lose the originality that can really make a book great. In this case, I think that Patrice Sikora has transcended these common pitfalls and found a way to couch a world firmly in the familiar (Gwen’s life) with reference to a well-known pattern (Greek mythos) and plenty of uniqueness that I have certainly never seen before (curious yet?). But to say nothing of textile friends and snarky squirrels, in Gwen, the reader has a very capable and enjoyable guide through this new world that Ms. Sikora has created.
I always love it when I stumble across really excellent books, and I consider myself blessed to be able to rate this one 4 out of 4 stars. Between the compelling characters, engrossing plot, polished execution, and overall creative superiority, I could hardly be more pleased with this book. If you have even the faintest notion that this may be something that you enjoy, I heartily encourage you to read The Dream King’s Courier: Payback.
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