REVIEW: Child of a Dead God

Barb and J.C. Hendee
Child of a Dead God (Noble Dead Saga, series 1, book#6)
ISBN-10: 0451462211
ISBN-13: 978- 0451462213
January 6, 2009

For many months, Magiere and Leesil have searched for a forgotten artifact, even though its purpose has been shrouded in mystery. All Magiere knows is that she must keep the orb from falling into the hands of a murdering Noble Dead: her half brother, Welstiel. And now dreams of a castle locked in ice lead her south, on a journey that has become nothing less than an obsession…

Accompanying Magiere and Leesil are the sage Wynn; their canine protector, Chap; and two elven assassins-turned-guardians who must fight their distrust of this sister of the dead. For forces more powerful than they — some may even say fate — are rallying around Magiere, arming her for the conflict to come, because finding the orb may be just the beginning of the challenges that await her.

Slight spoilers for this and past books in the series, though nothing major.

So this is it, the final adventures of Magiere, the dhampir; Leesil, the half human/half elf; Chap, the wolf-like Fae and Wynn, the diminutive scholar. I cannot claim that the journey hasn’t been engrossing. It would have to be to go through all six books. At times it’s been a slower walk, but for the most part, the first Noble Dead saga has been one of the most enjoyable fantasy series I’ve read. Child of a Dead God, while not my favorite of the series, rounded out the humble beginnings in Dhampir very, very well and almost with a bang. I found the ultimate ending to be lacking, but it wasn’t enough to dampen my overall appreciation of the series.

Magiere and her companions have now left the treacherous realm of the elves behind, Leesil’s past more or less firmly explored, and they now turn towards discovering and claiming the mysterious artifact that her half-brother, Welstial, seeks. Wynn says they must bring it back to her Guild of Sages, though no one seems to know what it is for or does. Another is interested in its welfare, Most Aged Father, leader of a select clan of elven assassins. He stooped low to stop Magiere and Leesil in the forbidden elven lands, and he stretches his influence further still, pitting elf against elf in a silent bid to arise the winner in this dangerous race against time.

Having confronted Magiere’s own past a couple of books back, we find there is still more that we do not know about this dhampir, the only one of her kind. What we do know is she is compelled now to find the artifact and to keep it safe from Welstiel. Talk of a war more ancient than any of them truly comprehend, and dark, menacing “night voice” shapes everything the small band does. Not knowing completely what to do or how to accomplish their task, the group forges on via the whims of several clues, knowing only that the fate of the world is in their hands, or soon will be.

By this time in the series, the authors have established the characters, the world and the plot. They bring readers the final round in just as good a style as when they shaped it all with the previous five books. The pace in Rebel Fae, book 5, was a little slow for me, with the last third or so finally bringing in some good action and intriguing plot reveals. This time, we get right into a great pace, one that I was pleased to see ran the entire length of the book. It helped, I think, that Chane, the vampire introduced in book 2, Thief of Lives, and Welstiel come back into focus at the very beginning. I really missed these two in Rebel Fae. They’re there, but not as much and for a reason I won’t reveal here. And if one has ever had a doubt as to how evil each could be, the beginning of Child of a Dead God leaves no room for doubt that they are indeed capable of terrible, sickening evil.

Chane has been one of my favorite characters, and I admit it’s for the very, very faint and fragile connection he has to Wynn. Yes, I speak of a very loose romantic thread here. I can’t seem to help it, whenever these small romantic nuances arise, I chase them down like a puppy with its tail, often with the same level of results. So yes, glad to see him again, even if I was indeed chasing my tail. I will say I was disappointed in his character growth this go around, but also that it is quite obvious his journey is not yet done by The End. This gives me hope because one other reason I found him so fascinating was the potential that Wynn sees in him; whether or not a Noble Dead can be more than a killer, more than an evil beast inhabiting what was once a human being. Does making one a Noble Dead cancel out all ability to choose and recognize right from wrong?

Wynn continued to be one of my most favorite characters of the entire saga. To me, she got the most attention to detail in the character growth department, Chap being a close second. Due to some very interesting circumstances begun in the third book, these two have been almost inseparable the entire series and they constantly bring a smile in the direst of situations with the way their caring for one another develops. They’re the Best Friends that remain true to their friendship no matter what. They made me laugh, they made me sniffle a time or two when they sought comfort from one another and they made me appreciate all they brought to the story in terms of simple awareness: an awakening awareness of self, as well as an awareness of everyone else around them. Wynn became so much more than a weaker human character and Chap became so much more than what he was normally seen as good for, a constant surprise and a great secret weapon as well. Both fought hard to accomplish this. I was glad to see Wynn grow from a young woman that Leesil and Magiere wanted to send home more than once to a vital part of their team that truly helped change things for the better. Chap’s insights and knowledge of the more mysterious happenings in the world, as well as his dedication to his companions, made him indispensable.

Magiere herself, being pretty much the star of the series, is reduced to this almost animalistic side, with her dhampir nature taking the wheel and steering her urges and actions. The longer they are delayed in reaching the location detailed in her dreams, the more we lose the human side of Magiere. Looking back over the course of the books, she almost seems like the least developed of the group. Because of the nature of her birth (which is pretty dang cool), she’s kind of the muscle of the group. While obviously very important to coming out the winner in this strange battle, she’s never really went much beyond a certain point as far as character growth. For all that, the series certainly wouldn’t have been the same without her particular brand of brash, bull-in-a-china-shop mentality.

Combined with Leesil, their personalities together almost become one, as if their growth wouldn’t be recognizable at all had the two never met. I know we tend to like our characters to be strong on their own. I’m not (exactly) saying that each is codependent, but there is no denying that each needs the other, and in more ways than mere mortal couples do. I do not think they could have faced what they did up till the end of the saga without each other. This is where we see what character growth we get from each. And it is good growth, I just couldn’t help like feeling that said growth stopped at this book. There are several unanswered questions about Magiere and Leesil both by The End, and from what I understand the two do not continue on in the first book of the second Noble Dead saga. Whether they will appear later remains to be seen, but I honestly expected their chapter to End. And it didn’t.

As far as plots go, the entire series carries off a wonderfully adventurous and wild one. Again, one cannot feel absolutely driven to complete six books if the plot isn’t as well done as the characters. I’ve felt that both were equally well done up until this book. This time, the plot was far more interesting than the characters and at this point it’s a good enough trade to have me recommending the series still. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again: the authors make the art of worldbuilding feel like child’s play. From the humble fishing shores of Miiska in book one, to the Land-of-the-Lost-like forests of the forbidden elven lands, and finally in the ice-encrusted heights of the final battle, Barb and J.C. Hendee know how to create a world that absolutely cradles everything else and allows it all to make sense. It’s been nothing but an absolute pleasure to read what they’ve created with this series’ world. After a little bit of a disappointment character-wise, the worldbuilding is what will drive me to chase down the second Noble Dead saga.

What drives me to raise a caution on this particular book is those unanswered questions. I felt that there were still too many by The End. And this perturbed me almost to the point of frustration (and possibly stronger emotions had I not already known about the second at least carrying on some of the same characters). As I said, I do still recommend the series to those just wanting to completely lose themselves in a good fantasy adventure. The authors deliver in this regard. I can only hope that these unanswered questions will be reconciled somehow in the second saga, which stars Wynn (titled In Shade and Shadow). The plot carries over to the second saga as well, so I would say it’s entirely possible we will get all the answers one day. I just do not like that more closure wasn’t given in this one because of those six. Long. Books I already read.

It’s been a fun last few months reading this series. If you’re curious about book 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, click to read the reviews posted here at Lurv, but check out some other reviews as well and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Despite some disappointment with this installment, I’m already hungering for more.

Rating: Four Scoops

Series 1 order:

  1. Dhampir
  2. Thief of Lives
  3. Sister of the Dead
  4. Traitor to the Blood
  5. Rebel Fay
  6. Child of a Dead God
Series 2 order:
  1. In Shade and Shadow
For more information visit the authors’ site.
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  1. KMont, you know I’ve been following this series through your reviews. The world building sounds wonderful, but unanswered questions after 6 books? That’s a bit of a worry — although definitely an incentive to continue with the next part of the series. :)

  2. Hils, it really does blow that after 6 books some of the major events are still not closed and that major questions have been left unanswered. I mean, it really blows lol.

    BUT – it was a good series overall, and yeah, there is small comfort knowing the second series will carry on at least some of the plot and hopefully answer questions. I seriously am wondering what was the point of some of the first series though. I was going to wait to get the first of the second Noble Dead saga in paperback but I’ll be darned if I might have to go ahead and get it now! Grrrr. All I know is things BETTER be wrapped up in the second series. I do not want to be strung along.

  3. Hagelrat, from the fourth book and on they had a new artist doing the covers. They’re much nicer. Traitor to the Blood’s cover, book 4, is my fave.

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  5. Pingback: Sometimes They Come Back: The Noble Dead, Series 2 |

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