Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shaman, Healer, Heretic - M. Terry Green

    2011; 338 pages.  Book One in the “Olivia Lawson Techno-Shaman” series.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Urban Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Things are amok in the Multiverse.  Particularly in the Underworld, where Shamans normally ply their trade.  They are now being attacked there and in some cases killed.  In our dimension, this is of small interest, since ordinary people don’t consciously venture into the Multiverse, and shamans (shamen?) are not held in high regard.

    But for Livvy, a young and practicing techno-shaman, the perils in the Underworld impact her livelihood, as people pay her to travel there and bring souls back to the here-&-now.  But after one encounter with the creature wreaking the havoc “over there”, Livvy’s convinced that she’s no match for it.  For that matter, no shaman is.  What can be done?

What’s To Like...
    The core concept of “techno-shamanism” is original and fascinating.  Why not utilize 21st-century technology to navigate through the spirit realms?  The story is fast-paced, with no slow spots.  The chapters are short – think James Patterson length - which makes for an easy read.  The setting/premise will remind you of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, so if you like that series, you'll like this one too.

    There is one assault, plus some brief mentions of vodka and cigarettes; but Shaman, Healer, Heretic is still geared toward the YA market.  The book has some great points about teamwork, multiculturalism, religious prejudice, and girl-power (all the shamans here are female).  There is some budding romance, but nothing steamy or R-rated.

    The overall concept of shamanism is captured reasonably well, and when’s the last time Sumerian gods showed up in the book you were reading?  The breadth of techno-shamanism is rather narrow here; Livvy’s “jobs” seem to be mostly limited to pulling clients out of comas.  But I’m guessing the job description will get more complex as the series progresses.

    I also imagine the Multiverse – consisting of an Underworld, Middleworld, and Upperworld - will get fleshed out in the sequels.  For now, they are sufficiently detailed to allow for the story to proceed at a satisfyingly rapid clip.  But I was left wanting to "see" more of their terrain.

    A couple of the plot twists that M. Terry Green weaves into the story seem forced and abrupt.  But the ending ties the basic plotline up nicely, while leaving a bunch of secondary loose ends for fiction fodder in the subsequent books.

Kewlest New Word...
Cabochon (n.) : a gem shaped and polished, but not faceted, often in an ellipse shape.

    “Why didn’t somebody call me?” she asked, angry.
    The nurse went over to the monitors and started punching buttons, making the machine squeal occasionally.  Mitch grimaced at the noise.
    “Our shaman managed to do more than all of you people in this building put together,” said Diana.
    Oops, Livvy thought.  Time to go.
    “Shaman?” the nurse yelled, glaring at Livvy, who was stowing the water and other gear.  “If she touched him or gave him anything, we’re not responsible.”  (loc. 1144)

    “Tell me you are not serious,” he said.
    “It’s not really dying,” said Livvy.  “It’s just that your heart has to stop.”
    “Will you listen to yourself?  ‘Your heart has to stop.’  That’s insane!”
    “Insane?” asked the Nahual, turning around.  “Well, perhaps a little.”  (loc. 5316)

Kindle Details...
    Shaman, Healer, Heretic sells for $3.99 at Amazon.  The second and third books in the series are also available, both selling for the same price.

“Even for a techno-shaman, a kachina in the bedroom wasn’t exactly part of the drill.”  (loc. 43)
    I am certainly not the target audience of SHH, but I found it to be an delightful read.  Some questions did pop up in my mind though.

    Why did one of the gods have to be “summoned” before he could make an appearance?   Are there any male shamans?  By definition, can you really kill a deity?  Is the Middleworld necessary?  Do techno-shamans do anything besides coma-curing and dimension-hopping?

    I doubt YA readers will be bothered by such trivialities.  They’ll just sit back and enjoy the story.  Which is really the proper thing to do.

    8 Stars.  Oh yeah, a couple quibbles.  A “female god” is a.k.a. a goddess.  And Lapland does not extend all the way to Siberia. Just sayin’.

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