I don’t quite know whether to classify this one as fantasy or science fiction and probably it doesn’t even matter. There are magical, or rather god-like, powers at work but they seem to come from machines. Except maybe the gods’ Aspects and Attributes. It was never really clear to me where those came from. So maybe it is fantasy after all.

The basic plot is revolution: Buddha, or rather the con-man Sam who is impersonating Buddha, and his closest friends and some unsavory allies are trying to overthrow Heaven which is upheld by the Indian deities. However, this is followed on only the first and the last chapter. The rest of the book is mighty flashback showing how the rebels started to rebel in the first place and how Buddha/Sam made war against the gods. Even though I love, love, love immortal characters and messing round with deities I don’t really like the flashback technique because I already know the outcome. I constantly feel like I should skip the flashback and get back to the real story.

The setting of the place isn’t Earth. There are clues in the book that the Indian deities are the first ones to settle a new planet and so got their high status. The regular people seem to be the descendents of the settlers and some of them are the descendents of the deities so it’s a bit weird that they are so stricktly ruled and kept from any innovations. There are also native peoples who are represented by the energy beings that the humans call demons.

The setting is a planet which is ruled by the Indian gods. The gods control reincarnations quite literally: some temples have machines which can create new bodies for those who are worthy of it. The temples have pray machines which can absolve you of sins if you put enough money in them. They also have a machine that can read people’s thoughts and so can give good, new bodies, or possibly a promotion to demi-godhood, to people loyal to them. Needless to say, I was fascinated by the setting. However, I was a bit puzzled why such body changing entities where so hung up on the biological gender of a person. I guess it made them more human but still…

I also liked the portrayal of most of the characters. I liked especially the brief glimpses into their previous lives and how those complicated their current lives. The last chapter was also very intense.

What I didn’t like at all was the feeling that I got that women are always less powerful than males. In doesn’t matter if your power comes from technology or supernatural forces; biological gender always determines how strong, competent, and self-confident you are. I especially disliked that Yama-Dharma was more powerful than Kali apparently simply because Kali is a woman. Similarly one of the major gods had started his life as a woman and was therefore always insecure and less powerful than he should have been. And apparently Ratri’s (Goddess of Night) only superpower was… to appear beautiful??

But most of the time I really liked the book. It just irritated me when things like that are included.