cover image The Winged Histories

The Winged Histories

Sofia Samatar. Small Beer, $24 (337p) ISBN 978-1-61873-114-2

Samatar's lush sequel to A Stranger in Olondria is a story of revolution, religion, and electrifying love in four distinct voices. Tavis is close kin to the current Telkan, the ruler of the fantasy realm of Olondria, but she leaves behind the expectations laid on noblewomen to become a soldier%E2%80%94and then, with her cousin Andasya, to lead a new rebellion. Other viewpoint characters are Tialon, daughter of Ivrom, the Priest of the Stone, whose cult is overthrown in the revolution; Seren, a young woman of the nomadic feredhai, who becomes the beloved of Tav; and Siski, Tav's sister and one-time love of Andasya, who is the sole bearer of Andasya's terrible secret. Samatar gives each woman her own style of storytelling and view of events, so that the reader sees this episode in Olondria's history as though looking upon the scene through four different windows. Each character weaves her experiences and observations into the land's folklore and mythology. Samatar refocuses these viewpoints to present something perpetually and pleasantly startling and unexpected. Her prose is by turns sharp and sumptuous, and always perfectly controlled. Samatar's writing strongly recalls Guy Gavriel Kay's fantasy, which reads like historical fiction, but there are strains here too of Jane Austen and something wilder. (Mar.)