Rhapsody of Blood: Revelations

It has been a long and very strange trip, but Roz Kaveney’s Rhapsody of Blood series has reached a conclusion. I reviewed the first book in the series, Rituals, back in 2012. Three more volumes followed, initially yearly, but then at increasing gaps. There was a pandemic. But at Eastercon there will be a launch event for Revelations, the fifth and final volume.

I say launch. As I understand it, the books are unlikely to make it over from the USA in time. There isn’t even a cover online yet, so I have used a favourite from the rest of the series. But there will be an event, and a celebration. I’m planning to be there.

The central theme of the series is that anyone can become a god, you just have to spill enough blood in getting there. There is a process called the Rituals of Blood that maps the path to godhood, and there is an ancient immortal called Mara the Huntress who has made it her job to seek out divine wannabes and kill them before they can complete the Rituals.

Key to the story are two young Oxford students, Emma and Caroline. At the start of the series, they attend a party given by Emma’s tutor. One of the other guests is a Tory MP who turns out to be a demon in a flesh suit. He eats Caroline. Mara turns up and rescues Emma.

Elsewhere in the story, and far back in time, we meet two young chancers called Star and Nameless. Together they cook up an outrageous scam that leads them to becoming god and anti-god for more than half of the human population. I think you can guess the names by which they are better known.

Sadly for these two likely lads, there is a being in this world who is even more greedy and ruthless than they are. It takes him time, but he is very patient. The series maps his rise to power, at the expense of every other god in the world. It also tells of the attempts of Mara, Emma and Caroline to stop him.

Along the way there are a lot of side trips. The character of Mara gives Kaveney the opportunity to visit all sorts of interesting times in human history and put an end to bad guys. We get to meet people such as Simon Magus, Torquemada, Robespierre and Stalin. Also Aleister Crowley, who is nowhere near as evil as he likes to think, but thoroughly untrustworthy.

Meanwhile Emma and Caroline do a passing imitation of a lesbian Randall & Hopkirk (deceased) and slowly pick up allies. We meet Sof, the Goddess of Wisdom, who was once Hypatia. There’s Morgan, who has been many people, including Hekkat, the Queen of Witches. There’s the 18th century London spy-mistress, Polly Wild, and Elodie, the former vampire turned movie star. They are an intriguing bunch, in a very queer and found family sort of way.

Oh, and there’s Josette, about whom I will say very little because I want you all to experience the reveal for yourselves.

By book 5 things have got pretty serious. It is called Revelations for a reason. John of Patmos’ vision of the apocalypse is pretty dull compared to Kaveney’s. By this time Emma is Queen of (former) Hell. Her allies include Apollo, Loki, and all of Loki’s brood. All of the people of Earth (alive and dead and undead) march under her banner. The Enemy’s army is made up entirely of cis straight white American men who claim to be Christians but are out to kill all gods except their master, and who all look the same because they are clones. It is not quite space opera, but it is about as close as fantasy gets.

If I have a reservation about the series, it is that Roz is simply too smart. Most readers will not get anywhere close to all of the Easter Eggs that she spreads liberally through the books. But then I say that about Kim Newman too, and I recommend his books to you. Why not give Roz a try?

book cover
Title: Rhapsody of Blood: Revelations
By: Roz Kaveney
Publisher: Plus One
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