Official Review: The Dream King's Courier: Payback

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Official Review: The Dream King's Courier: Payback

Post by L_Therese » 28 Apr 2014, 22:57

[Following is the official review of "The Dream King's Courier: Payback" by Patrice Sikora.]
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When envy and rivalry among the gods flares into sinister and jealous ambition, Gwen finds herself caught in the middle. Most of the time, the gods tolerate each other and respect their agreed-upon limitations as they court worshippers and jockey for position amongst themselves, but when a powerful faction drives one into an all-consuming lust for power, the stability of the whole Promethean League (think neo-Olympiad) is in jeopardy. Gwen, a recently-widowed mother of two, had never cared for the gods, but a bargain with Nathao, the Dream King, casts her into a starring role in the deities’ latest drama. Gwen must accustom herself to her new position, survive the growing threats against her life, and do it all while being a single mother to her children.

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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Post by Mpassy18 » 05 May 2014, 12:33

I had read this book already and thought it was an amazing thrill ride but based on this review I am now going to go back and reread it so I can capture all the eccentricities that this reviewer highlighted for me. I am sure the book will be even better the second time around.

I highly recommend it to any avid reader looking for their next fantasy/fiction book. Can't wait for the second part of the series.

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Post by casper » 09 May 2014, 04:12

Thank you for the great review. I'm always on the look out for new books that grab my imagination and this sounds like one I will enjoy.
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Post by LINA M-EMBER AMA » 23 Sep 2017, 18:52

Great review though it would have been great to know a little more about the story line. What actually linked Gwen with the gods? This must be a wonderful piece. I would love to read it. I love Greek mythology and stuff like it.
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Post by KeriCraven » 12 Oct 2017, 10:02

Wow! it sounds like this is a thrill ride of a book. I might have to add this to the list. Thank you for your review.
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Post by Job Njoroge » 15 Oct 2017, 10:52

Great review though you left me hanging on a number of issues. You didn't explain what led to the greed and what led to Gwen's relationship with the gods

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Post by Ashley Simon » 17 Oct 2017, 14:00

I enjoy books where the characters have the ability to grow and change. Sounds like a good one. Nice review, L_Therese!
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Post by qsusan » 15 Mar 2018, 20:35

The Greek and Roman gods are generally fun to read about thanks to the many recorded legends and myths surrounding them (some of them conflicting and contradicting each other). Which myths or legends does Sikora accept as fact to tell her story?

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Post by teacherjh » 09 May 2018, 11:47

I'm not a fan of mythology, but this sounds very well done. Thanks.

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Post by daniya__shah3 » 12 Jun 2018, 11:39

Your review highlights how well you have attended every single detail employed in the story. It's not just the review or the book, your writing skills are pretty amazing as well. Keep up the good work!
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Post by Nusrat_Shabnam_ » 10 Dec 2018, 02:16

I am not a fan of Greek and Romans. So I am not gonna try it. You write nice reviews. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Jaime Lync » 19 Dec 2018, 16:48

Job Njoroge wrote: ↑
15 Oct 2017, 10:52
Great review though you left me hanging on a number of issues. You didn't explain what led to the greed and what led to Gwen's relationship with the gods
I also felt the same way but chalked it up to trying not to give any spoilers and building interest in the book. Sounds like an interesting read.

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Post by Itskai88 » 23 Jan 2019, 06:58

I really want to follow Gwen’s journey and it is always fun when authors make supernatural beings flawed. Great review.

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Post by Uinto » 24 May 2019, 04:57

I like this novel that explores the author’s creativity in exploring abstract themes which may aid in instruction. Thanks for the information.

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Post by Nisha Ward » 24 May 2019, 06:25

I like novels that focus on pantheons and their interactions with humans, so I'll be sure to check this one out.
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