The Doom of Undal by Katrina Sisowath
S.E.Lindberg rating: 4 of 5 stars
(See also Fall of Undal-S.E. review and Sisowath Interview).
The Doom of Undal - A Dark Epic for Historical-Fiction Readers
Anunnaki Deities: Katrina Sisowath’s Dragon Court series fictionalizes the plight of the royal Anunnaki. Note, the Anunnaki were actual ancient Mesopotamian deities of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian cultures. Katrina Sisowath regularly publishes on Ancient_Origins.Net and drew upon her expertise to construct a deep, believable world including: (a) blood-letting rituals of mystery cults, (b) alchemy-based magic, poisons and drugs, and (c) grand architecture expected of ancient times. The world is very immersive and believable. Alien references are relegated to subtle steampunk details; on the continuum of sci-fi to fantasy, this leans heavily toward epic-historical-fantasy.
Royal Blood and Family Conflict: Sisowath writes in a very contemporary way, but The Doom of Undal’s mythical tone, use of humanoid gods, and epic nature is reminiscent of E.R. Eddison classic The Worm Ouroboros. Sisowath’s ancient Kings and Queens have dragon blood within their veins, but their inner monster/alien nature is suppressed as they rule over humans. Their curse/blessing manifests in various abilities which have associated temples to nurture/worship. The degree to which this eldritch power is overtly expressed drives the conflict. The balance of family legacy versus one’s own desires are constantly tested.
Epic Pace and Dark Themes: As many fantasy novels, there are many characters. Four emerge as our key guides, three of which are sisters (Rhea, Hathor, and Sobekh) and the last is a male from a different family (Cronous). We are first introduced to the three sisters when children; as they become parents their own duties pits sister against sister. Dark undertones simmer for the first 2/3rds of the book; the conflict boils over for the last 1/3rd… and truly lives up to the promises dark cover (my version depicts an imminent sacrifice of a pregnant women laying on an altar).
More Dragon Court: I read The Doom of Undal without reading the prequel Serpent Priestess of the Annunaki; however, I followed and enjoyed the story well enough to consider this a decent starting-point. The Doom of Undal itself is part one of duology; the second half, titled "The Fall of Undal" is due out later 2015. After reading this first half, I can’t imagine not picking up the second part to get closure on the fate of the land and characters.
Definitely recommended for epic fantasy readers who enjoy some history and are not afraid of darkness.
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