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The Grass King's Concubine

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  98 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Kari Sperring's first novel was a finalist for the Crawford Award, a Tiptree Award Honor Book, a LOCUS Recommended First Novel, and the winner of the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. Now she returns to the same amazing and atmospheric world with an entirely new story set several hundred years after the earth-shaking events of Living With Ghosts.

When a wealthy youn
Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by DAW
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I am used to fantasy novels and Regency romances that star wealthy nobles and royals who have tragic pasts and presents and yet still, are afforded a great deal of respect by virture of their fortunate birth. And no one ever ponders where the money for noble Lord So&So's splendid balls, or feisty orphan Lady Such&Such's swashbuckling tour of the world, comes from. This book takes that subject head on, and delves even deeper, from a glittering steampunky world teetering on revolution into ...more
This is a rather wonderful book. The heroine, Aude, rebelling against the arranged marriage prepared for her by her uncle, goes on a journey to seek her origins and a magical world (WorldBelow) that no-one in her own world quite believes in any more. Aude is a convincing and likeable character, fierce and honest; her companion, the guard Jehan, is subtly drawn, a decent and courageous man obliged to defend the elite of a decadent and unjust state and forced to choose between obedience and his co ...more
a final verdict: a gorgeous, lush, unhurried book, a darker fairytale that manages to avoid both being overwrought and drowning in edginess, populated with relatable, fascinating and lovely characters, both human and unhuman.

aude, the dissatisfied rich heiress, sets out to find the origins of her privilege and finds way, way more than she bargained for (i take back her alt!england origins, by the way, the worldbuilding is more interesting than i presumed). aude is determined and sheltered but
Joshua Palmatier
I received an ARC of this book, which is why I can post about it before it's even been released. This book will hit the shelves on August 7th, 2012. You should preorder your copy today.

The Grass King's Concubine is Kari Sperring's second book and while it is NOT a sequel to her first, Living With Ghosts, it is set in the same world. However, this book is nothing like her first. It has some dark themes, but the overall atmosphere of The Grass King's Concubine is much lighter and the characters, i
Katharine Kerr
This is an exceptionally well-written fantasy that offers something different from the usual themes and characters. Sperring's heroine, Aude, comes from the upper class of a society based on a sharp division between the rich and the poor. When her awakening social conscience drives her to discover the source of her family's wealth, she finds herself trapped in a strange and magic land, the WorldBelow. While her husband desperately searches for her, Aude must find the answers she seeks or stay tr ...more
Aude, as a young girl, saw fairies dancing under a bush. She spends years covertly searching for them in her mundane life. Then, as an adult, she runs away with a guard from an industrial textile mill owned by her family. Travelling across the steppe with her new husband, she is kidnapped by -- not faeries, exactly.

It would be fair to call those sentences from completely unrelated novels; if I've made them sound like a smooth progression, I've done them an injustice. This book is what people cal
This is a book with several narrative strands: one in the present, where Aude, born to wealth, runs away and seeks to understand where her family’s fortune came from; and one in the past, where a man called Marcellan enters the Rice Palace, domain of the Grass King, the mythical being who embodies the earth and the harvest. In the present, Aude gets kidnapped by the Grass King’s bannermen, and taken to a deserted, devastated Rice Palace, where she is told she must fix what her ancestors broke…

Aug 14, 2012 Liana marked it as to-read
So, when I saw "The.." I was like, uh-huh. And then "Grass..." And then I was like, uh, okay, grass. And then I saw "King.." and I was like, oooh, Medieval? And then I saw "concubine" and I was like, ahkodfajh;lfsdjflajfjassjfda I love the title omgggg. It just makes a want-to-read-er itch with curiosity. It looks really cool. I want to read.
Fran Jacobs
Aude has long dreamed of a shining place, and wondered how her family came to be so wealthy. She has heard of a bargain with witches, and something about the steppes, but little more than that. So, she runs away from her pampered, controlled, sheltered life with her Jehan, her husband, a common soldier, to find the answers. But when they reach the steppes and Aude begins her investigation, she is kidnapped, carried away to the 'mythological' world below, because while her family grew wealthy and ...more
Heather Rose
I bought this book in hard copy two years ago and decided to move it up in the reading queue by means of re-buying it in e-book form earlier this month. Since I wasn’t reading it hard on the heels of release, I wasn’t distracted by the expectations of what other people were saying about it. Overall, this is the most enjoyable novel I read all year (setting aside the entirely separate category of “mind-blowing concept but impossibly turgid prose” into which The Adventures of Mademoiselle de Riche ...more
Sagging a bit in the middle but good worldbuilding and interesting characters. I'm still confused about connection between revolutionary theme of World Above and stolen stones. It's like a piece of this story got lost during the journey between the worlds.
N.A. Fedorak
Highly irritating. It starts out very well, and has a believable young character, and then she develops (of course develops into a feisty young woman who wants to know more about the corrupt world! Like all other protagonists ever!). But then it reaches a downside about halfway through. She ends up in a dream-world sort of (and the mythology of the universe is actually interesting prior to them going to the mythology/dream world), and then it gets v. boring. She also gets pregnant, which is just ...more
Alisa Hedden
The main character of this story is someone searching for her roots. As such, this character is easy to relate with. Set in a culture that seems to be at a cross-road between migratory and settled, and where water rights mean everything. An intelligent young lady trapped in a very proper society where intelligence for women is not exactly a virtue.
Her intelligence and curiosity have led her to question such things as why the poor are rebelling and why does her family have so much when others
The Review:

The first time I heard about this book was when Kari Sperring read from it at Eurocon in 2010. I have waited for it to be released ever since. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes.

The setting felt believable. In fact, at times it felt like I was reading a historical fantasy. Because while the Brass City is imagined,it reflects the uncertainities of life in the mid 1800's in European Cities. But it wasn't just that. It was the clear contrasts between the wealthy in the Silver City an
Victoria Phillips
The Grass King's Concubine by Kerri Sperring

This is a wonderful tale about adventure to the unknown as well as finding your roots. In this story a young girl gets a hint about a wonderful world. She then devotes the rest of her life to trying to find this wonderful place, her Shining Place, as well as trying to figure out where her wealth and family lineage comes from. However, she gets more than she bargains for when she realizes that not everything makes sense about her lineage. When she fina
Set a few hundred years after the beautifully written 'Living with Ghosts' and in the same world, but a different part of it, Kari Sperring's second novel is a delight. Aude is from a wealthy family in the Silver City, rich on the proceeds of the sweat of the workers in the Brass City which has a very steampunky feel to it and is almost on the brink of revolution. She meets Jehan, a guard in the city torn between his duty and the just cause of the oppressed workers. He sets her straight on a few ...more
Catherine Sharp
It's hard to know where to start reviewing this novel. Maybe with a disclaimer: I know Kari, and I possibly wouldn't have read this novel if I didn't.

Which would have been a damn shame. This is exactly the sort of secondary-world fantasy I love. A clever, thoughtful setting which hints at so many more layers of history and geography and magic than are revealed; intelligently-written characters whose mistakes and triumphs drive the plot as much as the plot drives and manipulates the characters. A
Deborah Ross
Kari Sperring’s latest novel is the luscious The Grass King’s Concubine. If you haven’t read her debut novel, Living With Ghosts, drop what you’re doing and read it now. If you have, you know that her work is complex, thoughtful, compassionate and literate without the least pretentiousness. She has the uncanny ability to take five abrupt turns while maintaining the seamless integrity of the story. We go from a world that feels like pre-Revolutionary France (or Industrial Revolution England) to t ...more
Prelim Review: Here's the thing--I found this immensely engaging when Aude was young and trying so hard to find 'the bravest soldier' to help her on Marcellan's quest. I remember quite well the days when I was young and would draft anyone I could to help me poke in closets, wooded areas and drafty buildings, hoping to find Narnia (or Tir na nog or a doorway to the fairy world).

Things fell apart around the time Aude came to Brass City and her quest went from being about fulfilling the promise of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow - the realm of the Grass King - and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king's concubine... or replace her.

as with Living with Ghosts, Ms Sperring's previous book, The Grass King's Concubine starts slowly and only picks up the pace about half-to-2/3s in. this means t
Lillian Wheeler
The short version: Lovely, rich prose. And shapeshifting ferret twins! How can you resist?

The slightly longer version: This book is not a fast read. It needs to be savoured. I very much enjoyed it, from the language - beautiful, lyric - to the relationships. I especially loved Jehan and Aude's relationship, for the devotion but independance but partnership dynamic they have. And there was a lot I really liked about QiaQia that I can't really say without getting massively spoilery. But I hope the
I absolutely loved the first 100 pages or so. But then nothing happened for the rest of the book.
An interesting read from start to finish. With two story lines interwoven, one of the Grass King's WorldBelow and Aude & Jehan's WorldAbove, it is a complex but intregueing story. They all have to solve a centuries old mystery and throw in candres and shape shifting ferrets the tale is one good read.
The ending felt very rushed, but the worldbuilding was excellent.

I need a new rating system.
CJ - So, you wanna play with magic?
There are some great lines in this book and some great moments of description. Sperring has a knack for taking you into the world that you are reading about.

So why did I stop?

I got to page 130 and still felt absolutely no connection with the characters. I couldn't stand the time changes that came out of nowhere and I still never fully understood what the problem was that Aude wanted to find out.

So, while the writing is beautiful, the execution left me with something to be desired.
Quite good fantasy, in which a headstrong noble-born girl challenges the assumptions about her society and decides to find the reason for her family's wealth, accompanied by her soldier husband who tries to keep her out of trouble, until they are both swept into World Below, a place of magic and secrets.
Ivy Zheng
Aug 15, 2012 Ivy Zheng marked it as to-read
When I first saw the cover it look okay but when I read the review of the book. I was like ok it's cool. The title is awesome too and so I really want to read it. I really hope I'll win a copy of this since I really want to read it!!!!!!!!!>3:)
I thought this book would have some heft. But I wasn't feeling it. I gave up on it, which is rare for me, I might finish it some time, it wasn't horrible, it just wasn't very fresh, I didn't feel I was learning anything.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 24, 2015 10:31AM  
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Dr Kari Maund lectures and writes on the medieval history of the Celtic countries. As Kari Sperring, she also writes fiction.
More about Kari Sperring...

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