Pilgrimage by Kim Fielding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’m a lifelong fantasy fan and I think that’s one of the reasons I so enjoy Kim Fielding’s work. Pilgrimage is no exception. I enjoyed this very much. Mike and Goran are a lot of fun, especially Goran’s innocence and enthusiasm in spite of the things he’s been through.
After a hard day of work, Mike just wanted an evening to himself for a little solo fun (He’s on his own now that his partner Benny left him, circumstances which play into the story later on). While he’s got his hand down his blue boxers, he gets interrupted not once but twice, by Agata, a fertility goddess who whisks him away to an alternate reality. She needs him as a stand-in for someone who’s been a real jerk to her sister, Alina, the goddess of death. Alina has cursed this man’s people and she wants Mike to do the pilgrimage in his stead.
Once he realizes he is not, in fact, high on something and hallucinating, Mike tries to honor the goddess’s wishes since she’s his ticket back home. However, he is definitely a stranger in a strange land here. He doesn’t know the customs. He only has a set of stolen clothes and no shoes (since he was snatched in his boxers). It doesn’t take him long to get in trouble and that’s when a tall, handsome man offers himself as a guide and hired muscle. Mike doesn’t really want to hire Goran. He doesn’t even really have any money but Goran makes a good case for himself, sort of a three day risk free trial.
Mike quickly begins to rely on Goran. At first he does seem like dumb muscle who likes to drink far too much, but Goran knows the lay of the land and he knows how to hunt and fight. However, Mike soon learns Goran is more than that. He’s like a lake with deep still water. He’s wiser than he first comes across (not giving himself enough credit) and his past is tragic. (I’m a sucker for that, I don’t know why, just am).
Naturally they begin to fall for each other and Mike doesn’t want the pilgrimage to end on one hand, knowing he will lose Goran when he’s sent back home and on the other, he’s worried about his mom and sister and his whole life. Worse, the final sacrifice to the goddess of death has to be something he loves and the only thing he has in this world is Goran.
I had a lot of fun with this, more than I was even expecting (I’ve read a whole lot of transported to another world fantasy at this point). Goran and Mike are very likeable. I would probably really have rated this 4.5 stars, but I’m rounding up. My one quibble would be that I would have liked to see them have a tad more trouble in reaching their goal (sorry boys, I guess I’m sadistic that way). There is some trouble but it’s in exactly the spot you expected it after an unpopular decision by Mike. But that’s a minor thing. This one is definitely staying on the shelf.