Saturday, April 13, 2013

Books.

I haven't been doing my nails lately. It's exam-cram again (for the last time! AAHH) and instead of being in a mode to study, since my laptop charger broke, I've found a real craving to escape to books about non-traditional love (which isn't really related to studying/not-being-able-to-study, but we're not going to talk about that here).

So. If anybody's interested in the books that shaped my attitude on love and relationships, here is a list of the ones that were important enough for me to buy.

In no particular order

Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, Kushiel's Avatar
Jacqueline Carey

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This story features a world in which the religion worships a group of characters who engender all forms of love, with emphasis on "Blessed Elua" who is depicted with arms open and hands upturned and the tagline, "Love As Thou Wilt".

The story itself features a courtesan trained to be a spy who ends up stumbling upon a deep game of treachery against the Crown. The story is fantastic, but it's the relationships that keep me reading, and that underlying whisper, "Love As Thou Wilt". 


I read these books in a time when I was battling feelings for two people and came to the realization that my feelings for both/all are valid and as long as there is trust and communication, problems of jealousy and possessiveness can be worked through.

The DarkAngel, A Gathering of Gargoyles, The Pearl of the Soul of the World
Meredith Ann Pierce

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Sooo I kind of hate this image because it's very... Damsel in Distress Kidnapped by Beautiful Powerful Smooth Cruel Male Entity. I think it's the falling off shoe that is really pissing me off a lot because it's so... gendered? I don't even know.
So this is another story that defies expectations and has an amazing mythology. It's technically sci-fi, and it took me FOREVER to figure out why so I'm not going to give it away because it was pretty satisfying to piece the puzzle. As for the story itself, this slave-girl gets carried off by a vampyre, a creature with a dozen night-black wings to play handmaiden to his thirteen wives, whose blood he's drunk and souls he's stolen. At fourteen wives, he will drink their souls (which he wears in vials around his neck) and truly become a monster and lose his beauty, a reflection of the last remnant of his goodness.
SPOILER
So the more interested part to this is the progression of the story through the trilogy. Aeriel is whisked away from one slavery to another after her mistress is taken by this part-human creature. She is told she must kill him, and instead manages to save him and return him to human form. In A Gathering of Gargoyles, she goes on a journey to re-establish the lost guardians of the plains, and the former-vampyre Irrylath, instead of falling madly in love with her and living happily ever after, ignores her and resents her. Aeriel turns away and does magical things rather than moping about it like a princess. At the end of The Pearl of The Soul of the World, he realizes her worth and that he has treated her ill, at which point she basically tells him she is so over it and has better things to do before riding off into the Solstar-set with her best friend. BAM.
As an eighth grader looking for adventure and dealing with abandonment issues, this story was extremely empowering. I recommend it to anybody.

Wizard

John Varley

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This is possibly one of the weirdest freaking stories that have ever been written. It's the second of a trilogy, but can be read and enjoyed all by itself which I quite recommend as the other stories are not quite as satisfying and actually confused me more than a little bit.
The feature of this story are the aliens on an artificial "planet" shaped like a wheel. They are centaur-shaped with an interesting mating system (explained in excruciatingly hilarious detail in the book). The reason this is related to the rest of this set though is that the Titanides have a love that is too great for one. That love is too great for one. It gets interesting, to say the least.

A Companion to Wolves

Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

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This is one of those stories about humans pair-bonding with a hyper-intelligent creature to fight some evil. In this story, men bond with giant wolves to battle trolls that threaten their settlements. It's got a Viking type setting, and it is only men that bond, though the female wolves are the pack leaders. As a result, there's some interesting socio-sexual dynamic where the men bonded to the females have to deal with being MEN while dealing with some of the problems girls go through in a male-dominated society. I highly recommend this book, though I'd give it trigger warnings for explicit non-traditional sexual situations.

OMG APPARENTLY THERE'S MORE: Wishlisted - A Tempering of Men and An Apprentive to Elves

Shadow Man

Melissa Scott

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This is actually a really rare book no longer in print and I was really lucky to have found it online for about $20. You kind of have to read it with an educational slant to really get what's going on. I actually read this book for a Gender Studies class. It elicits a lot of discussion about how labeling gender and sexual orientation is quite arbitrary and the restriction on oneself by even a self-described label can prevent some wonderful experiences.