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Spinning Silver
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Retellings > Spinning Silver Spoilers Allowed

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
A place to discuss Spinning Silver with spoilers. Spoilers are ahead!


message 2: by Shomeret (last edited Sep 17, 2018 08:35AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shomeret | 286 comments I have just started this. I like Miryem and her Jewish context, but I'm not interested in the Staryk. They are much like the Celtic Faerie. I know a bit of Russian. Staryk is related to starii which is the Russian word for old. So the Staryk are from ancient times before there were humans, but they seem stereotypical to me so far. My focus is on humans who are more interesting and have more complex dilemmas.

Sorry for originally putting this on the wrong thread. I have to add that I would probably DNF this book if I didn't like Miryem enough to continue reading. It's slow. OTOH, the retelling element is getting stronger at this point.


Shomeret | 286 comments Ooh page 179!

Miryem is the first human trapped in a Faerie type realm against her will to insist that she has to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath. I love it!


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
Haha, I'm glad you love it now! The Staryk aren't particularly original, true, but the human characters are so excellently drawn and compelling.


Shomeret | 286 comments Margaret wrote: "Haha, I'm glad you love it now! The Staryk aren't particularly original, true, but the human characters are so excellently drawn and compelling."

Actually, I loved that scene on page 179 and Miryem. I don't love the book.

I think I would cut 50% of the book as totally unnecessary. I haven't read Naomi Novik before. The Temeraire series wasn't my cup of tea because I'm not interested in the Napoleonic Wars or Western style dragons. Perhaps I am largely incompatible with this author.


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
Maybe! I really enjoyed it and wouldn't cut anything. I kinda wish it had ended differently even though the ending makes sense, but I love the slow burn fantasy style. I haven't read the Temeraire series, but I also enjoyed Uprooted by her. I think I liked this one slightly better.


message 7: by Shomeret (last edited Sep 21, 2018 09:00PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shomeret | 286 comments OK, I'm back on this thread. Does the existence of Judaism make this historical fantasy? Does the existence of Christianity in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel universe make that series historical fantasy? I don't believe so. The context isn't our real universe. Maybe I'm a hardliner on what should be considered historical because I have a B.A. in history.

Re the town where Miryem's grandparents live, Vysnia--Perhaps you are confusing it with Vilna which is indeed a real place. I couldn't find such a place as Vysnia when I did a search. It means cherry in Lithuanian. There is a company with that name. It's also a surname, but it doesn't seem to be a real place.


message 8: by Margaret (last edited Sep 22, 2018 04:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
Good point about Kushiel. Hmm. I would've called it epic too.

I minored in history, but I'm not a hardliner about much of anything, ha. (Except for feminism and social justice sorts of things.)

I must've been confusing this some with The Sisters of the Winter Wood which I read soon after, and is def. historical fantasy as it is a retelling of real events with a magical twist.

I may be coming around to your perspective.

It's just, Spinning Silver isn't very epic. It's a stand alone. It doesn't cover an epic amount of time. It's not game changing for the world. Most of the characters are ordinary people. I love these things about it, but it doesn't make me think epic.

Funnily, I've compiled lists of epic fantasy and historical fantasy for Book Riot, and I see my epic fantasy list does contain some that take place on earth! So apparently I'm arguing with myself.

Here's my lists, if you're interested:
Epic Fantasy: https://bookriot.com/2017/10/20/best-...
Historical Fantasy: https://bookriot.com/2018/03/20/histo...

I'm curious about what you think.

Once others have had a chance to read this, how would you categorize it?


message 9: by Shomeret (last edited Sep 22, 2018 08:21AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shomeret | 286 comments Perhaps we need to be more precise in our terminology and not use "epic" to mean fantasy that takes place in an imagined world. "Epic" doesn't really have that meaning. We could simply call it secondary world fantasy, but some would apply that to alternate history which is a type of historical fantasy when it involves magic or fantasy tropes. The original term was high fantasy which is even more vague than "epic". I don't know a good solution.


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
I don't either. But I think readers still find the books they want to read, regardless of terminology.

Now that I've thought about it a little, I've tended to use secondary world fantasy to mean an invented world, and epic fantasy to mean a story that's epic in scope, whether or not it's a secondary world fantasy epic or a historical fantasy epic.

Oddly, I never use epic fantasy to describe urban fantasy. Nor have I heard anyone else do so.

I work at a bookstore, and you have no idea how many debates we've had about how a book should be categorized. Neil Gaiman--fantasy or urban fantasy? How about The Night Circus? I voted fantasy on these, but they were in urban fantasy for a long time before the new fiction director decided to change them to fantasy.


Shomeret | 286 comments I've finished Spinning Silver. Although I loved Miryem, I found the book as a whole disappointing.

See my review at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
While I disagree about the sprawling bit, I'm glad you enjoyed parts of it.

Miryem was a great character, as well as Wanda. Irina wasn't as compelling to me, but I did enjoy the dynamic between all three women.

I admit, I was a bit let down by the ending. I was kinda hoping that Miryem and Wanda would find love together. Even though the ending makes absolute sense. Wishful thinking on my part!


Spikeabell | 4 comments I liked this a lot (more than uprooted). My only quibble was the ending, (Margaret I'm with you on Miryem/Wanda) it could have side stepped the traditional close. The fairytale / folklore motifs worked well and I enjoyed the 3 young women's stories, particularly how they interacted and the contrast of class and agency.


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
I agree, I liked it a bit more than Uprooted. My favorite types of fantasies tend to be ones about 'average' people, so I also enjoyed the 3 classes of women.

We'll just have to imagine our own fanfiction endings. :)

The house that existed in both worlds kinda reminded me of Baba Yaga's house. I like semi-sentient houses.


message 15: by Susan (last edited Oct 09, 2018 06:41AM) (new) - added it

Susan Chapek | 230 comments Just finished it, and I liked it much more than Uprooted. For Uprooted, I loved the opening third, which is a battle-of-wits (character-based conflict) more than magic, but I bogged down whenever they went into the forest setting--wizard/magic (plot-based) warfare doesn't engage me. And the stuff in the Queen's court returned to more character-based conflict, but it felt (to me) like a volume 2 being rushed through to squeeze it into volume 1.

Spinning Silver features several battles-of-wits that continue through the whole story, and it's a good thing Dear Boy was out of town for several days, because I could hardly put the book down.

I also enjoyed the way each of the main women had to figure her new surroundings out as she went along. (No Gandalf arriving at the hearth with the backstory and assigning a quest.)

And I liked the way each had to cope with jostling (and evolving) loyalties.

There is a lot of detail about daily life, and I can see where that might feel slow to readers. But as a reader and writer of historicals, I love that stuff. (Almost drove across town to see whether they have any kruschiki in stock at the Polish grocery.)


message 16: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan Chapek | 230 comments Shomeret wrote: "OK, I'm back on this thread. Does the existence of Judaism make this historical fantasy? Does the existence of Christianity in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel universe make that series historical fantas..."

If historical fantasy is a real society with magic added, then how does that differ from magic realism set in the historical past? And how would it be distinguished from alternate history (with, say, time travel or alien invasion, such as Harry Turtledove has given us)?

Asking for a friend. ;=)


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
I also enjoy the historical details. I kinda have to prepare myself for it, especially if I've been reading faster reads. But it was worth it for this one.

I only call Latin American novels magical realism. With other novels, I typically say fabulist. The difference between historical fantasy and fabulist, to me, has always been that the fantasy aspect is part of the world in historical fantasy, and in fabulism, it randomly occurs without explanation.

We could analyze genres all day!


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I only call Latin American novels magical realism. With other novels, I typically say fabulist. The difference between historical fantasy and fabulist, to me, has always been that the fantasy aspect is part of the world in historical fantasy, and in fabulism, it randomly occurs without explanation. .."

While it's true that that the term magical realism got to be associated with Latin American writers like Gabriel García Márquez, then later on Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel, there are definitely authors of other nationalities that write in this style, Günter Grass,Mikhail Bulgakov,Salman Rushdie, Sarah Addison Alleni to name a few.
I do think the term is misused. For example, I've heard Charles de Lint referred to as magical realist and that's not at all the case. I recently finished The Last Illusion and also disagree that it's that.
Furthermore some authors like Allende might write a few books in a magical realist style, but many of her books are not imo.

I'm still waiting in the cue for this book!


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
Okay, I agree. I once read an article (couldn't find it quickly) that argued magical realism should only be used for Latin American books, because it's a genre unique to their culture and literature. But other genres might originate in one cultures and be assimilated into other cultures. I don't see anything wrong with that.

I get confused at to the fabulism/magical realism demarcations. If there are any demarcations...

Charles de Lint is definitely not magical realism. I have known people I no consider Holly Black magical realism for similar reasons. NO. I will argue this, ha! I usually use the term Contemporary Fantasy for these books, but Urban Fantasy could work too.

I've read a few Allende books, and only The House of Spirits was magical realism. I quite enjoy her fiction. I should read more.


Shomeret | 286 comments I not only use urban fantasy for Charles de Lint, I consider him one of the founders of that sub-genre.

Believe it or not, I have never read The House of the Spiritsbut one of my other groups is discussing it as a BOM this month, so I was motivated to request it from the library. I may have a problem getting to it though. I have too many review commitments.


message 21: by Jalilah (last edited Dec 18, 2018 07:29AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I also enjoy the historical details. I kinda have to prepare myself for it, especially if I've been reading faster reads. But it was worth it for this one.

I only call Latin American novels magica..."


I am aware that Wikipedia is not always accurate but this is still interesting https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic...

While the term was indeed first used for Latin American writers, it was first used in Germany for an art-painting movement.

Regarding Isabel Allende, I'd definitely consider The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna magical realism but some of her works like Inés of My Soul and Island Beneath the Sea seem more like historical fiction to me. Also I find her recent works Maya's Notebook and The Japanese Lover are also not so much, that being said all her works have something, even if it's small that might be considered a little out of the ordinary or fantastical even if they are just one incident in the book.

What is often lacking for me in some of the American authors is the social justice aspect which makes Sarah Addison Allen, as much as I enjoy her books seem fluffy. This is what made me really love and appreciate Anna-Marie McLemore so much. She has really imo mastered the magical realism genre and without being preachy there is a little bit of social awareness in her books.


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Shomeret wrote: "I not only use urban fantasy for Charles de Lint, I consider him one of the founders of that sub-genre.

Believe it or not, I have never read The House of the Spiritsbut one of my other..."



I think he IS actually the first although in recent years he has distanced himself from the label calling what he does Mythic Fiction instead.


message 23: by Leah (new) - added it

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Jalilah wrote: "This is what made me really love and appreciate Anna-Marie McLemore so much. She has really imo mastered the magical realism genre and without being preachy there is a little bit of social awareness in her books."

I agree 100%!

On a side note, I see you haven't read The Memory Garden yet, I think you'll enjoy its magical realism. It's by an American writer, but not "fluffy" like Sarah Addison Allen.

(Don't get me wrong, I like the fluffy stuff too. It's especially nice when you're coming off a particularly heavy read.)


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
I cannot wait to dig into Anna-Marie McLemore! I LOVE social justice themes.


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Overall I must say that I really enjoyed this book, a lot! It was very easy for me to visualize what the author was writing about. For some reason I can see this being a good movie and I imagine the late David Bowie being great as the staryk king!
I too was kind of surprised that Miryem ended up marrying the staryk king, but at the same time I think the ending fit and made the entire tale even more mythic. As characters I loved both her and Wanda. I found it interesting how Irena's character developed from being mousy to a string ruling queen.


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
It would make a great movie! I thought that too. Maybe a miniseries? And David Bowie is the perfect choice of course. 🔥

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I thought you would. Miryem and Wanda were standout characters for me. Oddly, I was reviewing this book for another reason recently and realized I’d completely forgotten about Irene until I had looked up my old review.


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "It would make a great movie! I thought that too. Maybe a miniseries? And David Bowie is the perfect choice of course. 🔥

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I thought you would. Miryem and Wanda were stand..."


Irena was interesting because in the beginning and even throughout the book she definitely had a less stronger personality and was the least interesting character of the three, but boom! She transforms into this powerful and clever Tzarina!


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
She absolutely has a lot of character growth. They all three do.


message 29: by Leah (new) - added it

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Margaret wrote: "I admit, I was a bit let down by the ending. I was kinda hoping that Miryem and Wanda would find love together. Even though the ending makes absolute sense. Wishful thinking on my part!"

Me, too! I kept thinking that's where Novik was taking them. But no; she went with the typical fairy-tale ending IMHO. * insert pouty face * lol

Also, I agree with Shomeret about the length. For me, there was a lot of redundancy which I think added to the over long feeling.

Overall, meh for me -- not a terrible reading experience, but I wasn't blown outta my socks either. There were equal parts great and boring. Though, its winter setting was perfect for sub zero temps here when I read it last week. Brrr!


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "Me, too! I kept thinking that's where Novik was taking them. But no; she went with the typical fairy-tale ending IMHO. * insert pouty face * lol"

I've heard that from several people now. :) We'll just have to make our own ending here.

It never felt redundant to me, but there you go! It is a perfect wintry read.


message 31: by Jalilah (last edited Feb 05, 2019 12:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Overall, I really enjoyed the novel! Regarding the ending, that she ends up with the Staryk king, well I figure what else could have happened. Had they parted ways, Miryam would have gone back to her old life, married someone and lived the rest of her life without without magic. That might that have been even more disappointing or not ? IDK!


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
I mean, what if Wanda and Miryem turned the cottage into a magical safe house for abused women, and they became guardians between the Staryk and the village? That's along the lines of what I was imagining.


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I mean, what if Wanda and Miryem turned the cottage into a magical safe house for abused women, and they became guardians between the Staryk and the village? That's along the lines of what I was im..."
Now that's actually a really great ending!


Margaret | 3778 comments Mod
:) It's all written in my head.


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