“The copper-haired rider looked at the black sky and swore.”First line in In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
What a month! A part of me feels like September lasted forever because I’ve been doing so many things this past month that were tremendously hard for me. I’ve actively been trying to fix my depression and maybe my anxiety by going to my doctor for help, but having social anxiety and then going to the doctor kinda feels like defying the laws of nature. My doctor also gave me some medication that felt like it was trying to kill me because it made sure I didn’t sleep or eat for 24 hours, but I’m okay now. It was just some pretty rough couple of days.
September was also the month where Denmark removed all covid-restrictions because so many of us are vaccinated. It’s weird! Like, was that it? Is it over? It’s kind of hard to believe, but I did use my newfound freedom to go see Dune in cinema, which definitely was a highlight of my month. Such a good movie and so much Timothée Chalamet!
My reading this month was a bit unusual. I read less than my usual and did quite a bit of rereading, probably all because of my aforementioned problems this month. Three out of five books were rereads, so I’m skipping my usual stats feature this time because it seemed a bit pointless. The rereads were The Binding by Bridget Collins and the first two books in The Shamer Chronicles by Lene Kaaberbøl. That also means that I only have two reviews for you this month, so I took the opportunity to make one of them a little longer than usual.
In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: September 1st, 1984
Genre: YA Fantasy
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, Alanna: The First Adventure, on Goodreads.
These books are so short, so it’s difficult to say much about them. I liked this one more than the first, partly because it was less confusing for me. I’m starting to get used to the way these books are written, so they’re easier for me to enjoy. However, I’m still not thrilled that we have characters called Raoul, Roald and Roger just like there are characters with names such as Gary, Gareth and George. Why?? I thought it was a rule that you had to pick character-names with different starting letters.
Still really liking Alanna as a main character, though, and truly appreciated her sassy moments in this book. She had some romance this time, and honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think.
The Bird King
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Published: March 12th, 2019
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Buzzwords: Spanish Inquisition, Muslim characters, magical mapmaker
Synopsis: Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker.
Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?
As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.
I’m so angry with this book that I don’t even know where to start. Maybe with the one positive thing I have? I did like the writing. It’s very beautiful so in that regard, it wasn’t painful to get through. It was painful in so many other regards though.
This story takes place in Spain in 1491 and we follow the concubine Fatima as she flees the Spanish Inquisition. The synopsis could lead you to believe that this is also about the mapmaker Hassan and his strange magical ability, or that this story is about a deep and loving friendship between Fatima and Hassan. It is neither of those things. This is about Fatima and Fatima only, and Hassan’s ability feels merely like a tool to further Fatima’s story. I don’t think the ability was explained properly and also wasn’t used all that much throughout the story. It was one of the many things that seemed rather convenient.
But let’s talk about Fatima. She’s an extremely annoying main character that every other character just love the moment they meet her and they would tell me constantly how amazing she is while I desperately search for the nonexistent proof. Her horribleness is especially evident in her friendship with Hassan which I assumed was going to be my favorite thing about the book. Fatima is an unbelievably shitty friend, though. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to believe in their friendship. She is selfish, mean and overall toxic, yet it’s Hassan who’s making all the apologies. More than once she says that their friendship started because he was the only one who didn’t desire her (he’s gay), and that seems to be the only reason she likes him, although the author was trying to make me believe otherwise.
Before I stop ranting, I need to address how Hassan’s sexuality was handled because there was something about that that left a bad taste in my mouth. It was bordering on the stereotypical with him expressing an interest in pretty much every male character in the story, like his sexuality was his entire personality. And that was despite his cool map-making ability! But no, he’s gay and you aren’t allowed to forget that!
There was a lot of other stuff I hated about this book but I think you get the picture.
I’m sorry about this rather short wrap-up. I’m more than halfway through two books at the moment but couldn’t finish them in time for this wrap-up. The books are The King of Crows by Libba Bray and The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams. I’m enjoying both but they’re very long (probably too long in my opinion), so you’re going to have to wait for my final thoughts on those. But since I didn’t have that many books to talk about, I’d love to know which book was your favorite of September. And then I hope you all have a great October!