Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Daw Books (Dec 1991)
I'd not encountered Clayton before when I read this book, and I wasn't sure what to expect.
This is a first in a trilogy, apparently set in a universe she's already used before. The structure comprises three strands of story wound together: in the first, we have the God Dance, in which the Bee Goddess and the Forge God enact a dance of opposition to each other; the second has the Sybil, watching from afar, seeing what is going on; and the third is the main story, as the earthly agents of the two deities - one a girl, Faan, who was kidnapped as a baby, the other an ascetic former soldier - act out this opposition, an opposition between a dour desert-based religion and one supposedly of fruitfulness and enjoyment. In the end, the agents themselves are the unwilling victims.
The setting is a sketched generic-fantasy background, somewhere after feudalism, but before high technology. One interesting feature is that Reyna, the ambiguously-gendered person who found and adopted Faan, is effectively a transsexual prostitute, which is a rather unusal occupation for a character who occasionally gets the PoV.
This book worked well for me. The story isn't left incomplete at the end, so it's not one of those series which is actually one book in multiple volumes, and the underlying message (that the world would be better without gods meddling) is brought through fairly subtly. So, all in all, enjoyable, if different.