Fantasy Book Club Series discussion

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Kelewan Empire Trilogy > Gender roles in the Empire

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message 1: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 414 comments How did you feel about gender roles in Tsurannuani, and specifically - Mara's manipulation of them. Women have 'used' men since time immemorial - the idea that a chauvanistic masculine view can be victimized is not new.

Yet so many times the 'evil woman' takes this course in traditional literature.

Does Mara stand this concept on its head? As heroine, does she re-cast that caricature?


message 2: by Kara (last edited Jul 01, 2011 07:40PM) (new)

Kara (sterlink) | 60 comments It was a male dominated society where the leading rulers played a serious Game of Council with one another. Yes. She used men. She used her assets to use men. Just as the men used each other and their assets to play. I never felt the men were victimized, they were losers.

Mara mainly and fore-mostly used her wits. People often underestimated her, and she was able to out-think them. Thereby gaining safety, money, allies, and power.

I have great respect for Mara, and the position of a ruler cannot be one of easy choices.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) The way Mara used her assets in marrying Bunto & putting up with him for 2 years... That was so heroic! It took a kind of stoicism that went even beyond the normal bounds of her society.

Like every role in the society, law & custom dictated what she could & couldn't do. Her imagination in working within that framework & twisting it to her advantage was fantastic - not to mention the unwritten, but equally important law - if you don't get caught, you didn't really do it, even if everyone knows that you did.

It is a wonderfully complex society for a fantasy world & her part in it was superb.


message 4: by Lee (new)

Lee (kiwifirst) It would have been very interesting to have seen another daughter or wife rise to power, using Mara's success as an example of changes to the old ways. The power play that could have developed in the game of council with 2strong willed women would have made for a great side story.


message 5: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 59 comments I didn't really think of gender roles when reading the novel. I didn't feel that it was pushed on us in an obvious way like many novels do. In retrospect I understand the question a good one. But it seemed to me Mara had to do what she did to save her family. Was Mara most concerned with changing gender roles for all women in her culture or saving her family?

It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall while Janny and Ray were discussing this aspect of the trilogy. Was gender roles a point of discussion?


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I had the impression that Mara wasn't particularly concerned for anyone but herself & family, but that was more than enough at the time & for the first book which has so thoroughly introduced us to the world. The book did mention there had been other female house rulers & she did inherit the title by custom.

That was a big consideration in marrying Bunto, though. She needed breathing space & purchased it the only way she could. She chose a flawed enemy that she knew she would use & discard, although the price for doing so was unthinkably high. How she could not have wanted to change the inequalities of gender roles, if/when the opportunity presented itself?


message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 30, 2011 03:02PM) (new)

I really had to stop and think about the decisions Mara made and the way she reacted (or many times didn't react) to situations in the story. I think it's so much harder for a person to sit on his or her feelings (anger, hatred, sorrow) than to explode and let it all loose. I found her ability to stay focused on her goals and her family within a society that seemed so well-defined as far as "honor" (even more so than gender....maybe I'm thinking about that differently? I know gender was big, but the idea of honor seemed bigger to me). The fact that so much happened within the framework of a conversation and it wasn't all hack n' slash was just such a subtle way to write a story (and very difficult to do it well...I think the authors did an excellent job). I'm still thinking about it and I read it several weeks ago.
(I realize that the topic is gender roles...my point is I feel that honor was a bigger character in the story than gender).


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I think I would have put it as survival within the framework of honor, but I agree that gender was a secondary, although very important point. Her gender was both a blessing & a curse, very pivotal, & her intelligent use of it was part of what made the story for me.


message 9: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Interesting discussion! It's clearly a patriarchal society and any woman operating within it strictly bound by tradition and honor. While women have functioned as the heads of families in the past, certainly Mara was thrust into the role without warning or preparation. She functioned amazingly well, and was forced to marry someone, and Bunto was the perfect choice. I appreciated that he wasn't so stupid as to make it too easy for her to win, and that the victory was definitely bittersweet for her - not without regret.

She's very smart and able to play this 'game' dictated by her society quite well. I can't wait to see what comes next.


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