S.E. Lindberg rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Game of Thrones on the Titanic!
Peter Valentine Timlett’s 1976 The Seedbearers starts a trilogy. Ostensibly inspired by history, the tale takes place on the island of Ruta (Atlantis). The cover blurb is accurate: it is a “bloody, sensual tale of an immense and violent struggle in the Atlantis of ancient Legend.” It begins with a brutal first chapter; the body of work is all political intrigue laced with sensual, adult themes; the final third is a satisfying, all-out-war synchronized with cataclysm.
Many tits are exposed, and all are gilded in gold: The domineering, Mayan-like Toltecs lead a fragile coalition. The Toltec’s themselves are split into the army and priesthood camps, and they rule over the Akkadian craftsman and Rmoahal slaves. They all live on Ruta. Chapter one is over-the-top, presenting all cultures as sexist in some way; in fact, misogyny appears intricate to the plot. The nicer cultures may treat woman okay, but still like to sacrifice virgins. Another rapes and murders them. Another eats them on occasion. In the first chapter alone there is (1) a beheading of a young girl… the subsequent eating of her corpse, (2) the a rape of one girl by >4 dozen soldiers, (3) a traditional sacrifice of young girl strapped to an altar, and (4) a slave girl whoring to maintain her life.
Timlett represents no culture in a positive light (to support the plot), but having just read Charles R. Saunders’ Imaro (in which a wondrous blend of fantasy warfare was mixed respectfully with African history) it was jarring to see the presentation of the enslaved, black Rmoahal as ruthless cannibals led by Voodoo priests.
Sword & Sorcery?: This was pitched to Sword & Sorcery fans, but the magic is limited to telepathic and psychic elements. There are several instances in which the astral realm is explored, and the story flirts with ghosts & invisible demons (more of this would have been welcomed). The closest thing to a magic-item is the “Instrument of Mating” (a ritualistic wooden phallus…seriously).
Rating & Recommendation: Fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire series) should enjoy this. Martin may be a better writer of characterization & adult-soap-opera, but Timlett offers similar adult-fantasy themes that come to closure in one novel (this does start a trilogy, but this first dose could stand alone). Atlantis is doomed to sink after all (that is no spoiler), but there are several groups vying for power: in a nut shell, this is “Game of Thrones” on the Titanic.
The characterization probably deserves a 3-rating, but the plot is thoughtfully constructed and the action delivered well. I tend to give the initial story in a trilogy a “4’ if I am inclined to check out the second, which I am (The Power Of The Serpent).
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