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The Birthgrave (Birthgrave #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  779 ratings  ·  37 reviews
She woke from a sleep of countless years, reborn from the heart of a raging volcano. Her body was a masterpiece all men desired, her face a monstrosity that must go masked. Warrior, witch, goddess and slave, she was doomed to travel through a world of barbaric splendour, helped and betrayed by her lovers, searching for escape from the taint of her forgotten race, and the m...more
Mass Market Paperback, 408 pages
Published September 1977 by Orbit (first published June 1975)
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Best Fantasy Series, Trilogies, and Duologies
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The Best Epic Fantasy
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Community Reviews

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Tanith Lee's The Birthgrave is one of the best pieces of feminist speculative fiction I have ever read.

The main character is a woman of the old race- humanlike creatures with apparent immortality and powers above and beyond that which we possess. She awakens in a volcano, and is told by the spirit in the fire that she is the last of her kind and will spread a curse of unhappiness across the land, unless she can unlock the secrets to the power and knowledge hidden within herself. Thus she leaves...more
I found this book just a touch exasperating in the beginning because the main character makes some very odd and not entirely wise choices and often seems to just let herself be helplessly swept along by events she could potentially have some control over. However, in good time the reader gains a great deal of insight as to her inner workings shedding a lot of light which makes previously senseless choices very sensible and understandable indeed. What I liked most about this book, other than the...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tanith lee is a remarkable writer; her prose often sings with the beauty of a Clark Ashton Smith, and her powers of observation are formidable. I also found the ideas here more engrossing than what I've seen of some of her later work, some of which just seems like "normal" contemporary vampire fiction, albeit written better than 99% of her peers.

Unfortunately what started off as one of the best and most engrossing fantasy novels I've ever read goes completely pear-shaped at the end. The ending i...more
For the first 80% of this book, I did not expect to be giving it 5 stars. For the first 50% of this book, I wasn't sure whether or not I would give it 4. Yet here I am, 5 stars, and teary-eyed.

Haunted by a demon and living in a man-dominated world, Tanith Lee's at-first-unnamed protagonist stumbles forth in some vague quest to lift her curse. It is this vagueness, and the character's self-destructive impulses, that can at times make the story a little infuriating. Yet, reading the text was like...more
Stuff I Read - The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee Review

I had no real idea of what to expect when I opened this book. I mean, that cover is kind of insane, and I just didn't know. But I've been meaning to try something by Tanith Lee and found this one. The experience was...interesting. From the start it is a bit of a strange journey, a woman waking up in a dormant volcano and flung out into the world to find herself worshipped and feared and used and abused. It is not often a very comfortable journey,...more
This is long-form Conan the Barbarian from a female perspective, with a whole lot of sexually charged violence, a little sprinkling of Sci-Fi, and a much appreciated Sherlock Holmes-style summation tying up all the loose ends. None of this is a bad thing, but it was a little familiar in style. However, the main protagonists - all dead except for the heroine of the story - were uniquely drawn as the next, creatively and sadistically decadent, evolutionary leap of mankind. Sort of dated prose and...more
Luna Lindsey
I really wanted to like this book. I read it to the end, hoping the lead character would redeem herself. But she never did. She is a goddess, with superpowers, but she allows herself to repeatedly be a victim of any victimizer within range.

I heard Tanith Lee was a feminist fantasy author, so I had high hopes for this... and maybe I missed something... but this book sucked.
Tanith Lee's first foray into adult fantasy is this beautiful and haunting feminist sword and sorcery epic. The writing is beautifully baroque, the setting is wonderfully fantastic, and the central character is perhaps one of the most wonderfully well-realized characters in all of fantasy fiction.

A masterpiece.
Epic. It's actually part of a trilogy, but you'd never know it. The other 2 books are Vazkor, Son of Vazkor, & The White Witch.
Kirja kertoo vuoren alta heränneen naisen, jota jumalattarenakin pidettiin, elämästä eri ihmisryhmien keskuudessa. Naisella kasvot ovat alati peitettynä ja hänellä on yliluonnollisia kykyjä. Kirja on jaoteltu kolmeen osaan, jotka toistavat samoja teemoja, ympäristö ja henkilöt vain vaihtuvat. Naisten asemaa yhteisössä käsitellään jokaisessa osassa saman kaavan mukaan – miehet hallitsevat ja sotivat, naiset alistuvat miesten tahtoon ja naiset kahinoivat keskenään paremmuudestaan. Tämä kaavamaisuu...more
Michele (Mikecas)


Un Consiglio di Lettura molto particolare, questo mese. Perché è un consiglio a scopo didattico, più che per il divertimento della lettura. Un consiglio per cercare di capire quello che si legge, saper valutare come è scritto, entrare un poco più in profondità nel giudizio dello stile di scrittura rispetto a seguire la trama solo per vedere come va a finire.
Perché lo faccio? Non lo so. Solo che riordinando le migliaia di ebook in mio possesso, sono capi
This is the first book by Tanith Lee that I have actually given three stars to, and not five.

First of all, this novel is quite different in some regards, except that it has the atypical heroine that is often typical of Lee. Her main female characters often are very difficult to understand. They seem to be both highly sensitive and aware, yet can also be cold and detached. There is also a high degree of a sense of sadness and loss tied to the female heroine throughout this novel, but without any...more
Jay Daze
The Birthgrave recalls the old fantasy adventures of Ryder Haggard (especially She) and Robert E. Howard, but done with more psychological and mythic depth and where the female characters are as vital as the male. An unnamed heroine awakens with no memory in a volcanic cavern and is told she has grown into womanhood while asleep. Her race has been cursed, destroyed and forgotten. She emerges into a savage world now populated by lower beings: humans. Lee really gets the atmosphere right, which is...more
Ана Хелс
Нека ви разкажа за един свят с много цветове и никаква надежда, населяван от белите полубогове албиноси и техните човешки тъмни слуги. Красивите принцове на елфическия етер и мръсните животни наречени, тъмни хуманоидни подлоги. Красотата и свръхспособностите се израждат в най-естественото — тотално забвение на морал и правила, абсолютна корупция на съзнанието и израждане на поколенията в безмилостни безсмъртни господари на света и всичко около него.

Наказанието все пак идва, без ясна причина или...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sounds paradoxical, that title, doesn't it? It fits though. It's the story of a woman who awakens in an erupting volcano and goes on a quest to discover her identity--for she doesn't even remember her name. Some reviewers complained she's too passive, too victimized, in all that follows--but I think that just goes with her loss of self--she learns about the world around her as we do, something the first person underlines. It's an unputdownable book, that takes you through exotic lands; it has th...more
Dag Syrdal
Holy dénouement, Batman! A wonderful book, marred slightly by a clumsy ending.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I couldn't finish this book. It was so boring. There wasn't any conflict, or quest to fulfill, Holy Grail to find, villain to kill. Nothing. Our heroine is just wandering around the land, searching for her origins. She doesn't eat, she sleeps all the time, she heals wounds very quickly, she falls in love in a man that treats her like dirt, etc. Nothing even remotely exciting. Also, for a person who has been in hibernation all her life, she sure knows how to walk, talk, eat or ride a horse.
Ken E Baker
Beautiful writing but I found it very hard to relate to a protagonist that allowed herself to be dominated by every male she met. This is all explained at the end of the book in a large info dump, not to mention a dreadful dose of deus ex machina that save the female protagonist from certain doom. Overall, a brilliant concept that fell short in it's final execution...
Overall this is one of my favorite fantasy novels of all time. This is the book that initially made me fall in love with Tanith Lee. It's the first work of hers that I ever read. The story has that lovely dream-like surrealism that life's best moments carry for me and has a stream of emotion that carries you through the story to the climactic conclusion.
Sep 26, 2007 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people really into scifi, women writers
Tanith Lee has always been heralded as an amazing scifi/fantasy writer. That being said, I did think there were parts of this book that were drawn out. Many twists and turns in the plot culminating into a Freudian psychoanalysis (literally). I was satisfied at the end, if not a little tired. Almost begs for a really well done sequel.
Austin Kaye
I really enjoyed the story even though I did pick out some plot points before they were officially revealed in the text. Overall the alien detachment of the main character was very interesting. I would recommend this book to any fledgling fantasy readers.
Tanith Lee is one of those authors you don't want to miss. This was the first book of hers that got my attention, and it's still incredible.

Go to my blog for a more detailed review.
Nathan M.
This book is a wonderful, feminist fantasy. The main character is a warrior/woman in a land of chauvinist barbarians. High fantasy reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian, but with many unexpected plot twists.
Vickie Brady
I love reading Tannith Lee. I have to say when I first began reading The Birthgrave, it was difficult to get into. There were a lot of twist and turns but overall a very good book.
This book really drew me in at first, but I slowly got more and more irritated with what was happening in the story. And then the ending happened and it really bothered me.
Feb 27, 2011 Aras marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, unfinished
This was okay, but I'm about a hundred pages in, and know it'd be like pulling teeth to force myself through 300 more pages. I'll put it on my shelf and maybe try it another time.
A surprisingly good sword and sorcery epic. The ending was a bit of a letdown (soooo '70's pulp fantasy), but otherwise, a remarkably well-written and engaging story.
Aug 16, 2009 Carl marked it as to-read
Shelves: fiction
No, I didn't choose this book because of its cover, even though it is awesome ;)
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Tanith Lee is a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She is the author of 77 novels, 14 collections, and almost 300 short stories. She has also written four radio plays broadcast by the BBC and two scripts for the UK, science fiction, cult television series "Blake's 7."
Before becoming a full time writer, Lee worked as a file clerk, an assistant librarian, a shop assistant, and a...more
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