Help A Bitch Out

HaBO:

Chris writes:

I read it over twenty years ago. It’s a fantasy and I don’t remember much of the romance elements though I know there was one (that wasn’t my thing then). The heroine doesn’t have fingernails, but she does have retractable claws that come out of her fingertips. Her mother was called a soul dancer, someone who had the ability to pull the soul out of a person by dancing in front of him/her. The heroine has the same gift and the villain wants to use her. I don’t remember anything about the hero, other than she pushes him away, afraid she’ll take his soul. One of the secondary characters is carrying around the bones of a lost child in his backpack. Some ritual needs to be performed before a person can depart from earth so the shadow of this ghost child is accompanying him everywhere. This man’s best friend, a woman, dies during battle and I remember the scene where she looks at him during a lull in the battle and tells him she’s been dead three days but she didn’t want to leave his back unguarded.

I think the cover had a picture of the woman with claws and she was standing next to a panther-like creature.

I really want to re-read this book. I hope someone knows the name of it.

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  1. 1
    Nikki says:

    The author is P. C. Hodgell.  The character is Jame, her mother was Jamethiel Dream Weaver.  The person who becomes a haunt was not her friend and was one of her brother’s servants.  there isn’t really a hero per se, and there isn’t a villain per se.  There are several villains along the way…

    The series is currently available from Baen as ebooks, to be published in print again in the future.  I think the portions you are talking about is contained in Dark of the Gods.  There are several sequels including Seeker’s Mask, and To Ride a Rathorn.  The author has retired and is devoting her full time to the next book. 

    Yay, possibly the second time I have ever known a book.

  2. 2
    Egads says:

    I don’t remember a soul dancer book.  There is a book The Soul-singer of Tyrnos (1983) by Ardath Mayhar that has a similar theme of pulling the soul from the body.  I don’t remember it well enough to say if the other details you mention are in the book.

  3. 3
    Egads says:

    Nikki for the win!

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Lita says:

    Nikki beat me to it –  The only reason I missed “first post” was because I was out to lunch, damnit!.  The book is definitely God Stalk and Dark of the Moon by P.C. Hodgell.  These books are available as eBooks, they are also pretty widely available on the used book market – the Meisha Merlin edition’s less than $30 on Amazon, and other editions are considerably cheaper.

    Ironically, I was just looking up P.C. Hodgell last week, hoping to see that she would have a new book out soon or an active blog.  She does have a pretty interesting website – dedicated more to her family’s artwork than to her own writing.  Her own story is really interesting – she wrote God Stalk and Dark of the Moon nearly 30 years ago, took off time to finish her PhD, only to discover that no one wanted to print it (it sounds pretty fascinating – “Ivanhoe: The Nonsense of Ancient Days”).

    The story of Jame continues in Seeker’s Mask and To Ride a Rathorn, plus some excellent short stories in a collection called Blood and Ivory, that fill in a lot of back story.

    God Stalk and Dark Side of the Moon were two of my books as a teenager, and I was always aggravated that the story was left hanging.  When I found Seeker’s Mask, I couldn’t wait to read it, only to realize that I needed to first go back to the original books to “get up to speed”.  Then came the aggravation when I realized that somewhere along the line, I misplaced them or lent them to someone who hadn’t returned them.  At that time, MM hadn’t republished those books and they weren’t cheaply available – the library h/c’s could be had from Alibris for $45-$90 each, regardless of condition.  Luckily, I was able to get them from interlibrary loan and then purchased the MM edition when it came out a few years later.

    P.C. Hodgell has a wonderful way with names – wierd ones that some how just roll of your tongue.  I am delighted (and so are many others) that a new Jame book will be forthcoming.

  6. 6
    Kalen Hughes says:

    I love love love this series:

    1. God Stalk (1982)
    2. Dark of the Moon (1985)
    3. Seeker’s Mask (1994)
    4. To Ride A Rathorn (2006)

    The Science Fiction Book Club usually has these in HB for $10-$12 each (check for Dark of the Gods, which is an omnibus of the first two books). It’s worth joining just to get these!

  7. 7
    Theresa says:

    Wow.  I can’t believe I knew two HaBOs in a day.  Pretty darn cool.

  8. 8
    Nicole says:

    Man, I bought this series as ebooks from Baen ages ago and have never read them.  Perhaps I should get them loaded onto my reader and read them.

  9. 9
    Avocado says:

    Ironically, I was just looking up P.C. Hodgell last week, hoping to see that she would have a new book out soon or an active blog.

    PC Hodgell does have a livejournal, by the way: tagmeth.

    She’s working on the fifth book, and the third and fourth are scheduled to be released in an omnibus edition by Baen.

  10. 10
    Lara says:

    I clearly must find these books. The plot also sounds kind of like Anne Maxwell’s Dancer series—Fire Dancer, Dancer’s Luck, and one other I can’t remember.

    Word is hit91—I would hit Kirtn, the male lead.

  11. 11
    RfP says:

    Dancer’s Illusion.  I thought so too at first, but Rheba (the fire dancer)‘s talent is entirely about working with energy.  No claws, no souls, no dark stuff in the books.

    The other Ann Maxwell sci fi/romance series has more “soul”-type dangers.  E.g. Timeshadow Rider is all about manipulating souls (or something similar), and among the alien creatures are the azirs, sort of deadly psychic cats popularly known as soul-eaters.

  12. 12
    Tania says:

    For anyone that’s interested – I went to PC Hodgell’s reading at Denvention this fall, she’s retired from being a university professor and spending more of her time writing. The next book in the series in underway, I took a picture of the manuscript pages she’d printed out so I could prove to friends that it really exists!

  13. 13
    Fiamme says:

    It’s a very different style to Ann Maxwell: longer, meatier, more detailed. The Fire Dancer was very much romance themes with sci fi stuff providing much of the tension/conflict between the hero and heroine just getting it on already.  The PC Hodgell stuff is much darker, and much more … hrmm, if I say high fantasy it’s not quite right.  Maybe George Martin-esque?

    Jame is delightful and many of the minor characters really stick in your head.  I bought the rest of the series as an E-book as I’d only ever been able to find the first 3 books as a “paper” book. I was overjoyed when I realised the series had continued… Of course it’s STILL hanging, I want her to finish it :)

  14. 14
    Fiamme says:

    As an aside—there is not an identifiable romance that I recall.  The (potentially romantic) men in her life come to sticky ends, pretty much—although some fall for her, the concern for sucking out their soul is a fairly valid one.

  15. 15
    michelle says:

    …we’re sure this is a book and not the memory of a terrifying nightmare?

  16. 16

    OMG, Tania, I’m hyperventilating from jealousy. Did she read from the WIP too?

    Like others here, I discovered these books as a teenager and they are some of my favourite fantasies of all time. Hodgell’s worldbuilding is incredible.

    Baen is republishing the first two books in a hardcover omnibus (January 2009) with the next three to follow. I bought the e-books—the first I’ve ever purchased because I COULD NOT WAIT for the hard copies.

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