Despite reading several negative reviews, I decided to pick this up and give it a read. I'd found the voices of both Ryan and Brandon engaging duringDespite reading several negative reviews, I decided to pick this up and give it a read. I'd found the voices of both Ryan and Brandon engaging during the sample chapters. I read through the 60% mark where most people gave up with a fair amount of sympathy for both characters. You could all the incident stupid. It was stupid. But to me it read as realistic for their situation. The book fell apart for me in part 3. It's 12 years on and we meet an older Ryan (who really hasn't changed much) and an older Brandon (who has changed significantly). What happens next stretched the point of believability for me. What happened after that had me putting the book aside at 91%. Nearly done.
I'd love to have seen some of those lost years. I think they would have made this story. If the book had been more about these guys growing up and into the relationship they wanted, it would have been awesome. Instead, the story retrod the same ground over and over, leaving me with the feeling the guys really hadn't grown up at all....more
Ember is Y Negative. In the world created by Kelly Haworth for her novel, Y Negative, that means Ember is not a man or, as they’re described in this pEmber is Y Negative. In the world created by Kelly Haworth for her novel, Y Negative, that means Ember is not a man or, as they’re described in this post-apocalyptic future, not a masc but he wants to be. Yeah, I said he. In this world, plagued by acid rain and devouring fogs, there are no women.
After serving his term as a surrogate, a Y Negative’s obligation to society, Ember has surgery to have his breasts removed. He is sterilised and begins a regimen of testosterone injections and works out regularly at the gym. His ultimate goal is to transition from Negative to Andro. Being either means being a second class citizen in this world. Ember and his few friends are derided and abused by the mascs. Regardless, they strive to live functional and fulfilling lives after their service but the cost of regular testosterone injections is high and Negatives don’t have the earning potential of their XY chromosome counterparts. The deck is permanently stacked. Ember will never be a masc. He will always have a Y chromosome and no amount of testosterone will change that but his yearning for it leaps off every page of this book.
Jess is a masc. He’s got all the right chromosomes, body parts, family parts and life parts. His parents (two fathers called father and dad) are mascs and so are all his brothers. He lives a life of blissful ignorance of the plight of Y Negatives until his dad dies. Even in his grief, Jess finds comfort in his studies, his work and his boyfriend.
When preparing to embark on an annual trip of the survey stations, the legacy of his dad, Jess recruits Ember to be their tech guy. Ember has his own electronics business and Jess has used his services before. He remembers him and offers him a month of paid work. Always looking for a way to pay for his next testosterone injection, Ember accepts, even though it will mean travelling for weeks with four mascs.
What follows is a collision of worlds and ideals in a setting already teetering on a fine point. The soil samples Jess’ team takes show improvement and have been looking more promising for a while now. It will be a while before they can grow food outside of a greenhouse but perhaps the world is on the mend from the mysterious apocalypse that killed everything but the hardiest of plant and animal life. While the land outside the protected cities might be recovering, the society within is obviously sickening. Throw in an acid rainstorm and an attack by the mysterious scavengers living on the fringe of society and everything Jess and Ember thought they knew about their society is challenged.
Y Negative is an ambitious novel. While telling the story of Ember and Jess and their seriously messed up world, Hayworth makes several comments on our own society, not in the least how certain minorities are marginalised. Ember puts a lot of effort into looking as masculine as possible, but so many of the mascs are trained bullies, finding fault with his manner of dress or something as slight as the fact he doesn’t have a pronounced Adam’s Apple.
The story is also a strong comment on personal identity as evidenced by Ember’s struggle to be something he has been taught is the ‘ideal’. It matters not whether he’s a mutilated woman trying to be a man in a world where he will never be equal. He may as well be the wrong colour or the wrong body shape or not blessed with the talent or skill or opportunity to realise his dreams. It’s a struggle we’re all familiar with, even in small ways.
For this story, it really does matter that he’s not a man because everyone in this world is a man. Men are the ideal and entwined through that are several more threads of thought and story and my ultimate question regarding this book. Why? What happened to this world? How was this society shaped? When did the notion of woman and man become twisted into three or four male-oriented genders? Where are the women? Finally, why do the men continue to pair bond and live in family units with two parents?
Ember’s journey is an interesting read. I enjoyed the weirdly post-apocalyptic world and the portrait of a society that was way beyond the grasp of normal. Ultimately, I came away from this novel less than satisfied, however, because I had too many questions at the end, I didn’t need to know what had all but killed the planet. A few theories are bandied about but, as in the Mad Max movies, the cause of the apocalypse isn’t really important. It’s in the past. For the characters in this story, the now is important. The future is important but I found it difficult to suspend disbelief when it came to the odd structure of the society. That may very well be a comment on me as a reader, that I’m so invested in my ‘heteronormative’ life that I find it nearly impossible to envision a different way of doing things. Without commenting on my life and views, I think is has more to do with needing to know the answers to the questions posed above. If not all, then at least to a couple of them. To accept this world, I need to know why.
That quibble aside, I would recommend Y Negative to readers of post-apocalyptic fiction with a romantic bend, readers interested in trans* and gender questioning characters and readers who enjoy thought provoking commentary on a number of social issues that plague our world, acid rain aside.
Son Of The Black Sword opens with Ashok Vadal, Protector of the Law, battling demons risen from the sea. Where one was reported, two appear. Ashok is gravely injured and unable to fight both. One of the demons is distracted by another man with a spear, allowing Ashok to gain the upper hand and win the fight. Both demons are killed. It is then Ashok’s duty to kill his rescuer. The man is casteless, a non-person, and the Law prohibits non-people to touch weapons. Because the casteless’ intervention surely saved Ashok’s life, he is prepared to be merciful. If the man will put down his spear and walk away, Ashok will let him live. While they argue, the casteless man’s fate is decided by one of the warrior caste.
The incident serves as a brutal but compelling introduction to Correia’s world. It is also a hint of all that will follow. That one moment of compassion will change Ashok’s life.
Following the battle, Ashok is summoned to appear before the Lord Protector. Though he is humble enough not to want the title of Lord Protector for himself, it is assumed it will be offered to him. Ashok is not the most senior, but he is the most feared of all the Protectors. Over nearly twenty years, he has built a reputation for being the ultimate instrument of the Law. He is offered the title and a letter. After he’s read the letter, it will be his choice to either accept the appointment or retire from the Order.
When the contents of the letter expose the fallacy of his entire life, Ashok journeys to the only home he remembers and takes the Law into his own hands, setting in motion a series of events that are both unexpected and foretold. His actions put him on the wrong side of everything he believes in, but on the right side of a battle as old as time, that is between the downtrodden and their oppressors. He will become an unwitting and unwilling symbol for the casteless, for the non-persons, and a reason for them to rise up at last and take back what may rightfully be theirs.
It’s difficult to write something new when creating a world of fantasy. There is a sense every story has already been told, the mythos all pieces and parts, the magic borrowed. Son Of The Black Sword manages to entice the reader with enough familiarity – an embittered warrior, a magic sword, a prophecy – while telling a story that feels fresh. A part of this is Ashok’s character. His absolute adherence to the Law, even when it betrays him, is the fulcrum of this novel. Ironically, having such a stubborn man at the centre makes the rest of the story difficult to predict because you’re unable to guess what his tipping point will be until it happens. Until then, his action and non-action both will affect all other players and plotlines.
The lore here is fascinating and well told. I enjoyed learning the history of the world and the legend of Ramrowan. The politics are just complicated enough to feel real without being too difficult to follow. Where the book truly shines, however, is in the characters. All are well drawn and distinctively voiced. My favourite is Jagdish. He is the guy in the middle. A warrior of low rank and high aims. Unfortunately, every time his path crosses that of Ashok Vadal, his rank falls and his ambitions recede further into the distance. Jagdish is a good man, however, and one of the few who seem able to think outside of the caste box. I also got the feeling Correia enjoyed writing Jagdish as his chapters are full of the author’s trademark wit and humour.
Being a novel of the fantastically epic variety, Son Of The Black Sword serves as the beginning of the ‘Saga Of The Forgotten Warrior’. But it does deliver a complete and satisfying tale while setting up the larger story. I’m looking forward to reading on.
"It’s all I’ve ever wanted, really. Someone to make tea for. To know how they like to drink it, and share some pieces of time with them at the end of"It’s all I’ve ever wanted, really. Someone to make tea for. To know how they like to drink it, and share some pieces of time with them at the end of long days, and short ones, good days and bad, and everything in between."...more
My favourite thing about this comic would have been the ultra glossy pages. Seriously, they used really nice paper for this thing. Showcased all the bMy favourite thing about this comic would have been the ultra glossy pages. Seriously, they used really nice paper for this thing. Showcased all the blood and gore beautifully. Otherwise, except for the setting—super villain apocalypse?—the story wasn't that special....more
In all honesty, by the end, this was probably only a 3 star read for me. But I remain ever fond of Lear's dirty bathroom sex scenes and the general gaIn all honesty, by the end, this was probably only a 3 star read for me. But I remain ever fond of Lear's dirty bathroom sex scenes and the general gayness of everyone involved in his novels. It's just fun to read. I also really liked Dan Stagg. I think I'll read him again....more