Peters, Andrew J. “The City of Seven Gods”, Bold Strokes Books, 2016.
Fantasy and Mythology
Andrew J. Peters has written a novel that is propelled by its fascinating characters. We meet Kelemun who was bought from his peasant parents to tend the inner sanctum of the house of Aknon where wealthy men pay exorbitant prices to see the beautiful servants of the god. Kelemun has been selected to bring offerings to Caliph, and has captured the fascination of the young prince Praxtor who has been spoiled by never having been denied anything his heart desires.
Ja’bar was hired to take care of wayward proselytes for the high priest Aknon-Horheb. In Qabbat’lee, we see that this is good paying work for a Stripeling (a jungle savage in the eyes of the city natives, and if he’s stingy and stays out of trouble, it will buy him a plot of river land).
However, we learn that the beauty and splendor of Qabbat’lee is simply a mirage that disguises corruption. When Kelemun and Ja’bar’s fates bring them together for a night of betrayal, their only hope for redemption and survival seems to be with one another.
Because this is a fantasy, it takes a while to get into it— after all, we are entering a place that is unknown to us. The story is related in the alternating voices of Kelemun and Ja’Bar who met in the beginning of the story but then moved onto their separate ways. Kelemun who is angelic and a priest into the temple of Aknon. His job includes meeting and receiving pilgrims in their bedchamber and please them and he takes his work seriously because he feels his job pleases the gods. Praxtor, the son of the caliph has fallen in love with him and that is a difficult Kelemun who was actually sold to Praxtor and lives in his harem. However, because he had devoted his life to Aknon, he does not know how to react to his present state.
Ja’Bar is a Stripeling who has been raised as a slave but now is a free man who has to discover how to make a living. He works for Aknon-Horbeb who gives him a lot to do. giving him a lot of different tasks to accomplish. Ja’Bar is what I would call an alpha character. He is fine with that as long as he is paid for what he does because he is saving his to build a house in the countryside. Peters raises the question as to how far someone will go to see their dreams come together and he does so in lively prose and with a fascinating plot.