Friday, October 2, 2020

Short Book Reviews: Hope, Wanderlust, Change, and Death

The Four Profound Weaves, A Birdverse Book, by R. B. Lemberg (Tachyon)

Lusciously detailed world-building and gorgeous language shine in this short novel from Lemberg’s “Birdverse.” The magic is inventive, centered on the intricately constructed carpets, each with its own amazing properties.

The Four Profound Weaves: A carpet of wind, a carpet of sand, a carpet of song, and a carpet of bones. Change, wanderlust, hope, and death.

In this world, personal magic arises from deepnames, and gender roles are strictly divided. In certain cultures, men neither sing nor weave. At the same time, polyamorous families are common, as are gender transitions. Transforming from female to male, as one of the viewpoint characters has, takes on the added challenge of overcoming a lifetime of roles, rules, and the expectation of loved ones. If this is a world of impossible choices and cruelty, however, it is also imbued with hope. Images of heart-lifting loveliness brighten moments of dark, even grotesque elements.

“For we are all woven of words,” says the transgender man, “and after we go, it is our tales that remain, wandering around the desert with the wind until our stories are told four times, until a weave is pulled from them – the carpet of truth which is the desert, this weave of change, and wanderlust, and hope, and death.”

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