Review

In the Courts of the Sun

by Brian D'Amato

The first volume in the Sacrifice Game trilogy, IN THE
COURTS OF THE SUN is an exciting science fiction thriller involving
a doomsday plot and time travel to help save the future world for
mankind. This novel offers both an aura of futuristic progress and
the mystique of ancient culture. Author Brian D'Amato has a real
knack for creating vivid pictorial quality and for recreating the
vital intensity of a culture long lost. It's not surprising that
he’s a bestselling author as well as a renowned artist and an
expert on Mayan history:

"I began to be able to move my eyeballs. I started to make out
how my right hand, the one holding the thorn rope, was broad and
beefy and heavily callused on the palm heel. Its nails were long
and sharpened and inlaid with T-shaped carnelian studs, and the
fingers were tattooed with red and black bands like coral snakes.'
A jade-scale bracelet stretched from the wrist almost to the elbow.
Like the section I could see of my naked chest and my
cauliflowerish left knee, it was crusted with bright blue
clay."

The city of Ix proves to be a strange, ominous, disquietingly
unfamiliar place:

"The image even had very specific colors: That is, the two
baskets on the far right were fresh and green, but the ones to the
left of them were sun-bleached to gray. Maybe it was this same
courtyard, where I was now, or maybe it was a place like it. But
either way, I knew through Chacal that each of the baskets held a
prisoner...and that the fluttering was the other captives
breathing, and that oozy smell was their rotting skin slowly
falling off their flesh, and the moaning was from one of the oldest
baskets, and that the prisoner in it had been there for years, and
years, and years."

The book's overall style is artistic, crass, violent,
intellectual, thought-provoking and suspenseful. The characters are
unembellished, complicated and human. The protagonist of the story,
Jed DeLanda, suffers from some degree of post-traumatic stress
disorder as a childhood orphan and survivor of a massacre in his
home country of Guatemala. He is striking in his obvious
intelligence, supernatural abilities, unusual heritage and exotic
sense of humor, and yet his disposition is also cynical, tactless
and insensate.

The novel does wander at times, and DeLanda is cynical and
really uncouth as a protagonist. But the storyline is intense and
gripping. It presents many thoughtful and intellectually
challenging concepts, such as exchange of consciousness as a means
of time travel and the fascinating Sacrifice Game. And D'Amato is
extremely skillful in the way he presents a colorful but candid
picture of the Mayan people and what makes them tick. We can
picture in vivid detail their headdresses and costumes down to the
paint and feathers and blood. We gain a real flavor for their
social order, customs, hygiene and practical reasoning. There are
even a number of glyphs in the book that are pretty accurate
depictions of authentic Mayan illustrations.

IN THE COURTS OF THE SUN is a vibrant thriller that delivers a
unique mix of mystique, terror, suspense, culture, history and
science fiction. The second volume in the trilogy is expected in
2010, and it couldn’t come fast enough.

Reviewed by Melanie Smith (melanies@daywesthealthcare.com) on January 22, 2011

In the Courts of the Sun
by Brian D'Amato

  • Publication Date: March 26, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0525950516
  • ISBN-13: 9780525950516