Prophets of the Ghost Ants by Clark Thomas Carlton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In a world where tiny humans live in symbiosis with insects, Anand is a half-breed of the lowest caste. When a new colony is to be formed, Anand is delighted at the prospect but soon finds himself living with a different clan and a new outlook. When the Ghost Ants attack his new home, Anand has a chance to change the world...
This was on my radar for a long time and I couldn't resist when it popped up on Netgalley. I was not disappointed.
While I'm not a fan of today's extruded fantasy product, originally scores big points with me and Prophets of the Ghost Ants has originality to spare. After a great cataclysm, the Earth is nearly destroyed and humans gradually evolve into being insect-sized for survival. Humans live in symbiosis with their gargantuan insect brethren and largely live in a caste system.
You don't normally read a fantasy novel where insects play a prominent role and the main character is in charge of emptying the chamber pots of nobles. I really liked the use of the caste system, somewhat emulating the hierarchy of ants. I also liked that each clan lived in symbiosis with different insects, like roaches, different varieties of ants, and termites.
Since it was a fantasy novel, you pretty much knew Anand was going to turn things upside down but I was surprised at the magnitude. It reminded me of Michael Moorcock's Elric books, only without so much genocide and melancholy. It was also very well thought out. There were no logical holes in the setting of the "Why don't they fly to Mordor on a giant eagle and drop the ring in the volcano" variety.
It was a fun journey, watching Anand go from being a shit scraper to the founder of a nation. The violence was harsh and there was a fair bit of smut in it, all the things I look for in a fantasy saga. Four out of five stars.
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