I read this when it first came out and just re-read it, along with a fifth novella in the same story arc, "Old Music and the Slave Women" in Le Guin'sI read this when it first came out and just re-read it, along with a fifth novella in the same story arc, "Old Music and the Slave Women" in Le Guin's book "The Birthday of the World." I am a big fan of Le Guin and have loved everything from the Hainish Cycle/Ekumen.
"Four Ways to Forgiveness" is four interconnected novellas set in a pair of worlds dominated by slavery culture and going through revolution. As one might expect from stories about slavery, there are parts that are hard (sexual violence, torture under the guise of discipline, the brutality of war.) But complex, beautiful, thoughtful characters are at the heart of each story, as is hope for humanity as the worlds slowly and painfully change in the midst of revolution....more
I've read may, but not all of these before. I'm more a fan of her speculative fiction work, so liked volume two better. May's Lion was new to me and mI've read may, but not all of these before. I'm more a fan of her speculative fiction work, so liked volume two better. May's Lion was new to me and my favorite....more
I really enjoyed this whole series, and thought it was strong through the end. Great and very creative world-building, good weaving of myth and religiI really enjoyed this whole series, and thought it was strong through the end. Great and very creative world-building, good weaving of myth and religion and history and politics and magic together, and great characters. I loved the feisty and loyal and strong main character, Cat, and her ability to walk between the mundane and the spirit world. I loved her husband Vai - vain, caring, strong magician, her cousin Bee, who dreams the dreams of dragons, and her brother Rory who is also a saber-toothed cat.
I give out 5 stars sparingly, only to books that I want to read again someday. I finished this and immediately wanted to start from book one again. It's not perfect, but it's a great read, the women are strong, and I was really invested in the characters. That's a win in my opinion....more
The second book of the series starts about 10 years after the first one, in a world both much changed and still similar, focused mostly on new charactThe second book of the series starts about 10 years after the first one, in a world both much changed and still similar, focused mostly on new characters. I really wanted to know more about what happens next for the same characters, which I did get to a degree, but also fell hard for the new ones.
Again, the world-building was superb. The main character, Oree, is gifted with an unusual magic power that she is still learning more about. She is also blind (although magic affects that), and an adventure story from the perspective of a blind woman is quite unusual, and all the more creative and well-written because of it.
Compelling, exciting, scary, page-turning, lovely. Adventure, gods, love, friendship, fear, murder, magic, power, it's all here in a city in the shadow below The World Tree. ...more
Surprising. Compelling. Creative. One of the best books I've read in a while.
I don't like giving away spoilers in my reviews, and there are so many uSurprising. Compelling. Creative. One of the best books I've read in a while.
I don't like giving away spoilers in my reviews, and there are so many unexpected twists and turns that I don't want to say much about the plot at all. So I'll say: strong female central character. Gods and power and magic. Intrigue and politics and betrayal. Injustice and slavery and freedom. Friendship and passion and love.
I also loved the writing style. The author interrupts the flow of the story occasionally to bring in another perspective, create emphasis, add a bit of back story. I thought they added depth and creative tension to the tale. The characters are complex, the world-building is well-done, and the story is unexpected and thrilling....more
I liked this book. It was complex, nuanced, metaphorical, mythological, compelling, full of themes like hope and forgiveness and resurrection. I likedI liked this book. It was complex, nuanced, metaphorical, mythological, compelling, full of themes like hope and forgiveness and resurrection. I liked the characters we got to know, and I liked the passage of time (forward and back), the use of different perspectives, and only showing what was needed to move the story forward.
I also am not quite sure what happened. I think a better understanding of Norse mythology/Ragnorok or an index listing character names and unfamiliar words might have helped. Still, recommended....more
I enjoyed this book set in a somewhat fantastical medieval Japan. The main character, Lily, is a peasant girl born in the year of the Tiger - strong,I enjoyed this book set in a somewhat fantastical medieval Japan. The main character, Lily, is a peasant girl born in the year of the Tiger - strong, stubborn, and not very marriageable (which really doesn't concern her too much). Her mother, before disappearing, followed the old Jindo ways, which Lily observes out of custom, even though they are now forbidden. And Lily's observance of said ways ends up setting a whole bunch of things in motion when the Daimyo's son finds her singing Jindo songs (songs which also just so happen to affect some dangerous fox magic that is threatening him).
I thought the author did a great job of setting the story in Japan - a sprinkling of Japanese words when translation just wouldn't be as strong, calling upon Japanese fairy tales about foxes, the description of clothes and planting rice and tatami mats and the Great House and Jindo shrines, and her use of metaphors (for example, comparing slow speech to trying to talk after eating mochi). As someone who has read and loved many a tale of the presence and power of goddesses and gods in mostly European traditions, I also really loved the depiction of experiencing the power of Japanese kami (the sense of the cold river, the heavy stones, the firey mountain) - a thrilling ride, as it were.
I appreciated the realistic depiction of Lily's understanding of the world (it was true to that of a young peasant woman who had never been in the Great House and had never had any romantic interest in anyone and so just does not get what is happening now), and how different the life of the nobles were by contrast. In addition, this book celebrates women in non-traditional roles, some of them quite unexpected, which I really enjoyed.
The plot line of the story has two main themes, IMHO. It is both about war (with some of the tragedies that come of war, though nothing explicit) and about two young people drawn together. While sometimes the development of the romance felt a bit slow and frustrating to me, it was also true to who the characters were and the time frame the story was set in. Plus, each character had secrets which led to a compelling tension as their relationship drew closer. I found myself wanting to know what happened with them next....more
This whole series is stellar and the language is exquisite. Themes of love, education, reading/books, power, and freedom unify the series.
A young girlThis whole series is stellar and the language is exquisite. Themes of love, education, reading/books, power, and freedom unify the series.
A young girl grows up in a world where her people have become enslaved. Books, courage, and friends in likely and unlikely places are the key to taking back their lives. Her journey is heart-stirring....more
I had a little trouble getting into the book in the beginning, but I'm so glad I kept with it, because I really enjoyed this book.
It's set in an alteI had a little trouble getting into the book in the beginning, but I'm so glad I kept with it, because I really enjoyed this book.
It's set in an alternative 1830s, where Europa has been ruled by a patchwork of princes and mages since the collapse of the Roman Empire, and an influx of people of Afric descent escaping a plague of ghouls several hundred years back ended up settled and intermarried with the Celtic tribes. The map inside the front cover shows a landmass that looks exactly like the British Isles merged into France, so some place names are familiar, and some aren't. (The author describes the book as as "Afro-Celtic post-Roman ice punk Regency novel with airships, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons (a small type of dinosaur)," which kind of seems to capture it pretty well).
Anyway, I had trouble getting into it at first because I kept trying to place the city names in Britain, and figure out who the people were, and exactly how they differed from history as I know it. When I finally decided to let go and consider this a fantasy set on another world I'd never heard of, and the story started to pick up, I found that I really, really enjoyed it.
The main character, Cat, and her cousin, Bee, are both likable and strong female characters. Cat's foil, the cold mage Andevai, grows on you. The "Afro-Celtic post-Roman ice punk" mash-up culture/world is fascinating, unexpected, clever, compelling. I especially liked the inclusion of recognizable (but also unknown) goddesses and gods, traditions, holidays, and mythology. The Wild Hunt on Samhain Night and the glimpses into the spirit world were marvelous. The story is also layered - upon finishing, I read some parts again (the beginning, the first meeting with Andevai, the revelations at the end) to revel in the complexities and the way the story cycled back around.
After a bit of a slow start (it takes a while to set the stage), the book is very compelling. There is adventure/journey/flight, great characters are met along the way, good character development, and an ending that leaves open much more good story to come. I can't wait to read the next one!...more
I really appreciated Romilly's strong female character, after the last few Darkover novels I read where I just couldn't connect with the female leads.I really appreciated Romilly's strong female character, after the last few Darkover novels I read where I just couldn't connect with the female leads.
This book had many things I love in a book: strong female lead, a journey, resisting what is expected, a connection to animals, a bit of fantasy, and a bit of romance. It reminded me a bit of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsong, which I love, but the setting was very Darkover.
I enjoyed Romilly's adventures and loved the ending - it was very true to the young woman she had become.
On the other hand, at times it felt over long and over wrought, and there was a bit of repetition. I also wonder at the division line between animals and people as represented by Romilly's laran - it rang a bit false for she who more than once experienced the joy of oneness with all....more
I have mixed feelings about this one, probably in part because the Age of Chaos is full of dark happenings. This book has some sexual violence/squickiI have mixed feelings about this one, probably in part because the Age of Chaos is full of dark happenings. This book has some sexual violence/squickiness that lead me to caution those for whom that would be unwanted. Also, sexism, war, demeaning, and other tragedies.
On the other hand, I liked: many of the main characters, the gifts of laran (matrix work and Allart's many possible futures were especially interesting), flying in gliders, matrix work to reinforce natural systems, and the two main romances....more
There is a lot of rape in this book, plus a really unlikable, misogynistic main character (who unbelievably still has women falling for him), which maThere is a lot of rape in this book, plus a really unlikable, misogynistic main character (who unbelievably still has women falling for him), which makes this book a rather unpleasant read. I also thought the doppelganger idea rang false and unrealistic - the beauty of being human is that we are all unique.
If I hadn't been reading this on vacation, with few other books available to me, I would have stopped short. I did, however, like how it ended....more