Ann Leckie is so intelligent and so wise about the way she crafts her stories. What we have here is a slow burn fantasy novel told from the perspective of an ancient god that resides in a huge rock, a plot summary which does not sound even remotely exciting. But friends, I'm here to tell you that it is. You will see life evolve, languages emerge and change, cultures form and get subsumed, and religious worship come into being. There is war, there is blood sacrifice, there are fully developed queer / trans characters. There is the deep, echoing feeling that life existed before you were born and will continue after you die.
At first glance, this is a well researched series about an order of medieval assassin nuns sired by Death Himself, so I was pretty much already sold. But THEN I started reading it, and could not stop. For weeks. I burned through all 3 books (and the related upcoming February 2019 release Courting Darkness) in like a week and a half.
The series takes place in 15th century Brittany, a time when everyone is at war, the duchy has been inherited by a 12 year old girl, and the Catholic Church chose to actively subsume pagan beliefs in order to gain acceptance among a reluctant populace. It is one of these old pagan gods, Mortain, now considered the patron saint of death, that our heroines worship and struggle and fight for. But they are also fighting for themselves.
The history is fascinating, the trauma is brutal but very well handled, the romance is the healthy and supportive (but fuuun) kind that you want your teens reading about, and the weapons are historically accurate. Don't you want to read about young women finding self actualization and liberation through violence and subterfuge and epic battles? DON'T YOU?
In this gender-bending retelling of the Oedipus myth, Johnson's words gnash, bite, and bruise, taking on a harsh beauty that mirrors the darkness of the river canal wilderness. With interweaving perspectives and characters on the edge of madness or beyond, this book is one of my most memorable reads of the last few years.