Nastassja's Reviews > A Thousand Nights
bookshelves: best-young-adult, young-adult, fairy-tale, fantasy, retellings, this-girl-is-awesome, oh-my-villains, no-romance, poetic-writing, dark-haired-heroine, cover-ecstasy
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky
A whole new world
Don't you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath - it gets better
I'm like a shooting star
I've come so far
I can't go back to where I used to be
- Tim Rice (lyrics from Aladdin)
Do you familiar with a feeling when you open a fine bottle of wine and pour in your glass, and, at first, your wine touches with the air and you feel the bouquet of flavors, and you let your senses taste the story behind these smells - uncover its ingredients - and only then you let yourself take a sip of that wine and let it stream through your blood, enchanting you and singing its secrets to you. After a few more glasses you are fully under its spell (well, if you are not feeling its magic yet, have another glass, please, to be sure).
Alright, maybe the comparison with wine was not the best, but my feelings toward this book were similar to feeling intoxicated with a good wine (otherwise there's no point to be drunk if the wine is not good, right?). A thousand nights is a good wine you can't stop enjoying until you drunk on its richness and magic and beauty and, most of all, its uniqueness. This book is one in a million. It's a gem. It was one of those rare cases when I was hooked from the first words. This is a true fairy tale: like, every other book I called fairy tale before is not it, compared to this one. Magic, wisdom, true east, demons, princes, desert, castles, love, friendship and a healthy dose of feminism - this is the bouquet of A thousand nights.
It began slowly. One moving spark in a sky full of fixed lights, spiraling blue and gold, and then doused by the blackness of the sky. Not all of us saw it, it burned so quickly, but soon there were plenty of lights to marvel at.
The story is about a common desert girl, who only wanted to save her beloved sister from a terrible fate of becoming a wife of a man who killed hundreds of his wives before. The girl made her sacrifice in the name of love for her sister, but in doing so, she saved thousands of lives.
“My sister is no fool and she is not tender-hearted,” I said. “My sister fights for her home, and takes what risks she must. That is why I put myself before her today—why I would not let you have her. My sister burns, and she does not burn for you.”
Sisterly love is so pure and strong in this book. I never had a sister, but I wish I had the one like our Nameless heroine.
This book is not your typical YA; you will not find here swoon worthy princes and kick ass heroines. Nope. Our Nameless heroine is a fighter, but she fights with a special magic - magic made by love and wisdom.
“I do fear him,” I said, which was close to the truth. “I fear him as I fear the desert sun and poisonous snakes. They are all part of the life I live. But the sun gives light, and snakes will feed a caravan if they are caught and cooked.”
It's is not a story of how one girl defied an evil force and saved everyone, no, this is a story of how all women united in one had saved the world. Yes, this book is a hymn to feminism in many ways, but it is not about how women fought for their rights in a world made by men. It is a story about women's unity and wisdom; how to be just a woman in a world made by men, but also how not to overcome but make it a better and a kinder place.
“I am yours to command, husband,” I said to him, and met his eyes.
When my mother spoke to our father, she often said that. He liked it, the way she put herself in his hands. Until just now, I had not realized that since my mother was the one who allowed it, she had more power than even he might have realized. Lo-Melkhiin thought I was less than him; but his was not the only tally.
Then the other women would start to talk to one another. Through them, my mothers learned more of the habits of the men our father traded with than he had ever dreamed of.
“With your eyes on your work,” my mother had said to me, thinking to prepare me for a trader’s life, “it is easy to forget who is present to hear your mouth. You and your sister must remember that, when you are wed. Do good work, and those you work with will tell you things beyond what you can imagine.”
A thousand nights is slow paced, but the story has twists and turns, and there's terrifying moments and joyful moments. There's not much action, but it did not make me less fidgety, worrying over our Nameless heroine's fate. There's no romance. There's love, but no actual romantic line. It never bothered me, really; the language and the whole story were so beautiful and captivating that the whole concept of love was enough to satisfy me. And let me mention that E.K. Johnston is a forensic archaeologist by training and a grammarian by nature. I am not an expert on east but I felt an authenticity of eastern culture in every word and description the author gave me.
We had skin of burnt bronze, a deeper brown than sand, and duskier where it was exposed to the wind and sky. Our hair was long enough to sit upon, and dark: the color around the stars, when night was at its fullest.
There's a reason only one character has a name in this book. It's Lo-Melkhiin - our main hero and villain. He is the king. He is a symbol for his people. His name will be written into history, other names will be forgotten, but their stories will be not. Lo-Melkhiin's name will not be forgotten, but his story will change: what he was, what were his reasons behind the murders will change. Our Nameless heroine's name is forgotten but her story stays true: she saved the king and the kingdom. Nameless but powerful.
Always, it seemed, men would overlook unpleasant things for the sake of those that went well. The statues’ eyes for the melodious sounds of the fountain. The deaths of their daughters for the bounty of their trade.
There was great beauty in this qasr, but there was also great ugliness and fear. I would not be like those men who turned their eyes from one to see the other. I would remember what those things cost.
The monster tested her, pulling at her soul and rending her spirit. She clung to life, and in the clinging she might have become a monster too, except she chose the path her story would take. She chose white stone walls and a golden crown. She chose to debate words of law, and to never grind her own grain. She chose to fight men every day, and then fight their sons, who thought they knew better than their fathers.<...> If you listen long enough to the whispers, you will hear the truth. Until then, I will tell you this: the world is made safe by a woman.
Quotes Nastassja Liked
There was great beauty in this qasr, but there was also great ugliness and fear. I would not be like those men who turned their eyes from one to see the other. I would remember what those things cost.”
When my mother spoke to our father, she often said that. He liked it, the way she put herself in his hands. Until just now, I had not realized that since my mother was the one who allowed it, she had more power than even he might have realized. Lo-Melkhiin thought I was less than him; but his was not the only tally.”