On Earth in some undetermined future, society has changed
radically. Mars has been colonised for the last three hundred
years and Earth now has legalised slavery. The worship of
Norse, Greek and Roman gods have become the norm, with Christianity
having seemingly disappeared. Into this strange new world
two girls are born. Affroditey a freeborn teenager is sold
into bondage following her father's suicide. Kylie is a born
slave who is freed from her bondage to become the voice of
god, in the temple of Odin. Seemingly unconnected, fate and
the will of Odin will bring these two women together to determine
the destiny of a single child...
Price is a well respected children's author. She published
her first book The Devils Piper at the tender age of
sixteen (now that's impressive). In 1987 she won the Carnegie
Medal for The Ghost Drum and The Guardian Children's
Fiction Prize for The Sterkarm Handshake. Odin's
Voice is the first part of her new Martian Trilogy.
first thing I found odd about Odin's Voice is the society
which forms the background of the novel. With space travel
common and a colony on Mars were talking about a thousand
years hence, however, the changes in society are never explained.
Just why should the worship of gods, which had fallen out
of fashion a good fifteen hundred years ago, have had such
a revival is never explained. Nor is there any explanation
as to why slavery is now legal. In the Roman Empire it was
an economic necessity, but there appears no logical reason
within the book as to the value of slavery here. It may be
that the intention was to create a technological society which
had grown up from a Romanesque background, a type of future
alternative history. Either way, nothing is ever explained,
maybe that was the intention.
characters are well drawn especially Kylie who grows from
the frightened bonder of Freewoman Perry, through her manumission,
to become the 'Voice of Odin'. As she grows in influence her
character also grows in confidence. Her motivation to recover
her biological son, Apollo, from her previous employers is
very powerful and understandable. Affroditey, is just plain
annoying. Although no ages are specifically given, she is
written as a 15-ish year old. Her fall from grace, whilst
sad, is never enough to make her a sympathetic character.
She learns little from her experience and holds onto her inborn
prejudices to the end of the book. It would be fair to say
that she starts off as a moaner and only progresses to being
a frightened moaner with the emotional instability of your
Whether Kylie actually speaks with god is left up to the reader.
There is little direct evidence either way in the book. It
is true that Kylie, herself, believes it, as do the worshippers
at her temple. Given some of the problems that Harry Potter
has run into with the church, I would imagine that the
apparent resurgence of pagan worship and the lack of any reference
as to what happened to Christianity would have left Susan
Price open to more than one clergyman condemning the book,
but then any coverage can be seen as good coverage.
is it worth reading? Well yes and no. The endless whinging
of Affroditey does get on the nerves but hopefully with their
fight to mars it may be that it is there, in the second book,
that we shall see her character progress.
a good read from a well respected author.
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