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640 pages, Paperback
First published February 5, 2019
Day seven, I saw that I was still a boy. There were men stronger, and women too. There were men wiser, and women too. There were men quicker, and women too. There was always someone or some two or some three who will grab me like a stick and break me, grab me like wet cloth, and wring everything out of me. And that was just the way of the world. That was the way of everybody’s world. I who thought he had his hatchets and his cunning, will one day be grabbed and tossed and thrown in with shit, and beaten and destroyed. I am the one who will need saving, and it’s not that someone will come and save me, or that nobody will, but that I will need saving, and walking forth in the world in the shape and step of a man meant nothing.
I tell you true and I tell you wise. Is three years ago a child was taken, a boy.The plan was simple. Tracker worked with his long-time companion Leopard, and a company of others--including a river witch, Bunshi, a moon witch, Sogolon, and a skin changer, Nyka. This fellowship was tasked with finding this boy, who may be the key to undoing the curse plaguing the lands in the North and forestalling a war with the South. But when the book starts, the boy is dead.
"...And why would I, the wisest of queens, not speak that savage North tongue --especially when I constantly have to deal with savages? A child could learn it in a day... Why does my court not ooh and ahh?"It felt like a Tolkienesque world with far more threats than wonder. This was a world out to kill you.
You could have a family of one and still drive them apart.Some of his direct enemies are the many witches that punctuate this story. Mossi, his love and lover, later tells him,
...Perhaps you hate none, not even your mother. But tell me I lie when I say you always expected the worst of Sogolon. And every other woman you have met.And yet he still harbours a grudging appreciation for Sangoma, a witch who blessed him, and prevented metallic threats, poisons and curses from afflicting him. He had a languishing forgiveness for his mother who faced abuse and in turn, let him endure the same paternal abuse. His beloved adopted children, many of them girls, owned him body and soul. While no one has a singularly good time in this book, I did appreciate that instead of turning the women into damsels or helpless victims, they were frequently able enemies. And in this book, death is an equal opportunity occurrence.
"My ears going tired from the sound of witches."This book explores multiple themes. I appreciated how James didn't care whether his reader was overwhelmed or not. Like a Shakespearean tragedy, he knew that those who stayed with the story would be rewarded for their patience. In this book we tackle sexism, religion, trauma, grief, abuse, war, politics, faith, slavery, revolution etc.
A night fat with heat.
"You blaspheming the gods?"
"Blaspheming means you believe."
"You don't believe in gods?"
"I don't believe in belief..."
Until the slaves see they would rather the bondage they know than the freedom they do not.
Fuck all lords. All these kings come from the womb of woman. What is to stop this man-child from doing just as all other man has done? Kill all men.Considering the destruction wrought by this boy, whether by his fault or not is debatable, his mother's doubt was magnificent foreshadowing.