Agave Revealed

Anna LaForge. Newcal (www.newcalpub.com), $14.99 trade paper (386p) ISBN 978-0-9850168-4-5
This engaging second installment in LaForge’s Maze series (set 50 years after The Marcella Fragment and enjoyable on its own) places romance at the crux of a conflict between city-states and their respective ideologies. She-Who-Was-Hesione, 18th Mother of the walled city of Pelion, inherits an intrigue two generations in the making between her city and Agave, a desert metropolis best known for its slave markets and for violently impeding Pelion-bound pilgrims. Her only hope of challenging Agave’s aggression is to join Lillas, an Agave noblewoman, and Reddin, a Pelion Healer, in the mysterious rite of Transformation. LaForge’s worldbuilding is lush and diverse, but incongruously heteronormative given Pelion’s sex-positive matriarchy. While homosexuality is permissible, the necessity of male/female pairs for Transformation is taken for granted, and the only acknowledged form of sexual intimacy is a man “covering” a woman. Though sometimes marred by clunky exposition, uneven pacing, and inconsistent character development, LaForge’s sophomore effort is a frequently engrossing exploration of post-Earth societies. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/27/2013
Release date: 06/01/2013
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