A Man and His God: A curiosity

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsA Man and His God by Janet E. MorrisA Man and His God by Janet Morris

In A Man and His God, by Janet E. Morris, Tempus brings his Sacred Band of Stepsons to Sanctuary, a city in the midst of preparations for war.  Tempus is a tough man to kill, one who has watched severed limbs return as his god, Vaschanka, heals him. Though their relationship is not always so smooth that he can afford to take Vashanka’s intervention for granted, Tempus is one soldier that Prince Kadakithis cannot afford to offend as they prepare to improve Sanctuary’s defenses.

For some fantasy readers, the presence of a sacred band alone will be reason enough to seek out A Man and His God, a novella that was first written in 1981 and that is now being rereleased. The Sacred Band of Stepsons is an elite band that has appeared in THIEVES’ WORLD, a shared universe that has attracted writers like Lynn Abbey, Poul Anderson, and Marion Zimmer Bradley, among others. However, fans of Tempus and his band can follow the Stepsons in their own in-universe adventures.

I found the writing typical of a fantasy that might have appealed to me more when I was a teenager. Morris offers a dramatic story about soldiers, vivisectionists, and cruel deities. At the heart of the story is the relationship between Tempus and Abarsis, the Slaughter Priest.

I found that I enjoyed reading about A Man and His God more than I enjoyed the story. It is being marketed as the first modern fantasy story to feature a male-male kiss. The Sacred Band of Stepsons is based on The Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite cavalry unit made up of male lovers. Janet Morris apparently sells non-lethal weapons to the American military. This was my first introduction to Sanctuary and the Thieves’ World shared universe, and I will admit that I was hoping for a more “wretched hive of scum and villainy” in Sanctuary, which perhaps does appear more in later stories.

A Man and His God is most likely to please fans of 1980s fantasy. There is little time for the playfulness and character development that one might expect in a George R.R. Martin or Joe Abercrombie fantasy. Instead, Morris offers a swords & sorcery fantasy about swordsmen, spells that imprison one’s enemies for centuries, and diabolical lightning strikes against one’s enemies.

I listened to Stillpoint Digital Audio’s production of A Man and His God. David Kudler offered his voice to the reading, which concludes in just under two hours. Kudler reads with a deep, almost hypnotic voice, which unfortunately had the effect of making me sleepy rather than invested in the story.

Tales of the Sacred Band of Stepsons — (2010-2013) Many of these are stories and novellas reprinted from the THIEVES WORLD anthologies. Publisher: The Sacred Band of Thebes lives on, a world away, in this mythic epic of love in war in ancient times. In 338 BCE, during the Battle of Chaeronea that results in the massacre of the Sacred Band of Thebes, Tempus and his Stepson cavalry rescue twenty three pairs of Theban Sacred Banders, paired brothers and lovers, to fight on other days. These forty-six Thebans, whose bones will never lie in the mass grave that holds their two hundred and fifty-four brothers, join with the immortalized Tempus and his Sacred Band of Stepsons, consummate ancient cavalry fighters, to make new lives in a faraway land and fight the battle of their dreams where gods walk the earth, ghosts take the field, and the angry Fates demand their due. Parts of this work have been published in substantially similar form in several volumes of the Shared Universe Series, Thieves World®.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsJanet Morris Sacred Band Tales Tempus with his right-side companion Niko, The Fish the Fighters and the Song-Girl: And other Scared Band Tales, Wake of the Riddler, A Man and His God, Wizard WeatherJanet Morris Sacred Band Tales Tempus with his right-side companion Niko, The Fish the Fighters and the Song-Girl: And other Scared Band Tales, Wake of the Riddler, A Man and His God, Wizard WeatherJanet Morris Sacred Band Tales Tempus with his right-side companion Niko, The Fish the Fighters and the Song-Girl: And other Scared Band Tales, Wake of the Riddler, A Man and His God, Wizard WeatherJanet Morris Sacred Band Tales Tempus with his right-side companion Niko, The Fish the Fighters and the Song-Girl: And other Scared Band Tales, Wake of the Riddler, A Man and His God, Wizard Weatherfantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews


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RYAN SKARDAL, on our staff from September 2010 to November 2018, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.

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