The Sacrifice Game by Brian D’Amato
Release date: July 2012
Review copy provided by Penguin/Dutton
The mind-bending, stunningly inventive sequel to Brian D’Amato’s In Courts of the Sun, in which one man holds the key to saving the world from the 2012 apocalypse foretold by the Mayan Prophecy.
In Brian D’Amato’s cult classic, In the Courts of the Sun, a team of scientists sent math prodigy and Mayan descendant Jed DeLanda back in time to the year AD 664 to learn the “Sacrifice Game,” a divination ritual that the ancient Maya used to predict the apocalypse on December 21, 2012. But after arriving in the body of a willing human sacrifice instead of a Mayan king, Jed’s experiences led him to the fateful decision that rather than avert the apocalypse, he must ensure instead that the world ends.
Using his knowledge of the divination game, Jed sets in motion a series of events that will bring about the destruction of humanity, ending the world’s pain and suffering once and for all. But before the plan can be completed, the organization that sent him into the past discovers his intention and devotes every resource to stop him.
Taking readers back to the dizzying action of ancient times, The Sacrifice Game is a breathtaking odyssey in which Jed must survive bloody wars, ruthless leaders, shifting alliances, and unspeakable betrayal to learn about the Game, before his time in both the ancient Mayan empire and the present day runs out.
All right. So. To avoid a possible drama-filled timesink like what happened with this book review, I’m just gonna come right out and say it: this book was a DNF for me. And this makes me sad, because I seem to be the only person on the planet who couldn’t get through it.
This may have been because this is actually book two of a series, and I haven’t read book one; I was rather confused right from the beginning, and had to use some of my trusty Google-fu to figure out what the hell was going on.
The book opens with one of the main character, present-day Jed, setting off the string of events that will lead to the end of the world. On December 21, 2012, which may be disappointing for people since on the surface it has nothing to do with the Mayans or their calendars.
But! It actually does! (And this is where it gets interesting. And confusing, if you haven’t read the first book.) Jed’s…brain? consciousness? memories? (something like that) had been downloaded into the body of a Mayan hipball player named Chacal (no idea what hipball is). This process basically erases Chacal and replaces him with Jed2, or ancient-Maya Jed. (I should note that Chacal wasn’t supposed to be the new Jed; the king was but something went wrong during download. But hey, at least they didn’t get the hourglass of doom, right?)
The book goes back and forth between the past and the present, but it looks like a big chunk of it takes place in the past. And it revolves around the Sacrifice Game (hence the title of the book), which is, unfortunately, a game I don’t quite understand. If I read the first book I’m pretty sure I’d know what it is, though.
It seems like an interesting story. So why did I DNF it? Well, partly because I was so confused while reading it (not having read the first book was a huge detriment), and partly because I disliked the stream of consciousness narrative style. There’s nothing wrong with stream of consciousness, of course; I’m just not a fan. So that coupled with my confusion about the storyline made this a very hard book to get through.
Is it a bad book? Hells no. It’s actually a good book–it’s very interesting, even if it’s confusing. The plot is rather intriguing, and Jed is one heck of an interesting character. However, if you haven’t read the first book, I do not recommend picking this one up. Start with the first book and go from there.
Even though I didn’t finish the book, I still recommend it as an interesting read. But if you haven’t read the first book, In the Courts of the Sun, make sure to get that first.