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Cards of Grief [Kindle Edition]

Jane Yolen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jane Yolen’s award-winning story about an alien civilization forever changed by the incursion of human social scientists and a mysterious ancient prophecy

The year is 2132 when members of the Anthropologist’s Guild set down on the planet Henderson’s IV, or L’Lal’lor as it is known to the native population. Charged with the nonintrusive study of alien cultures, the crew discovers a society containing no love or laughter. It is, instead, centered around death—a world of aristocratic and common folk in which grieving is an art and the cornerstone of life. But the alien civilization stands on the brink of astonishing change, heralded by the discovery of Linni, the Gray Wanderer, a young woman from the countryside whose arrival has been foretold for centuries. And for Anthropologist First Class Aaron Spenser, L’Lal’lor is a place of destructive temptations, seducing him with its mysterious, sad beauty, and leading him into an unthinkable criminal act.
Told from the shifting viewpoints of characters both alien and human, and through records of local lore and transcripts of court martial proceedings, Cards of Grief is a thoughtful, lyrical, and spellbinding tale of first contact. It is a true masterwork of world building from Jane Yolen, a premier crafter of speculative fiction and fantasy.
This ebook features a personal history by Jane Yolen including rare images from the author’s personal collection, as well as a note from the author about the making of the book.

Editorial Reviews


“A strong and moving story, a piece of dream unmoored and drifting through daylight. Jane Yolen writes wondrous well.” —Roger Zelazny

“A lovely, compelling fantasy. I haven’t read anything as original in a long time. I’d say [Yolen] belongs on the same shelf as Ursula K. Le Guin and Patricia McKillip.” —Marion Zimmer Bradley

About the Author

Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Born and raised in New York City, the mother of three and the grandmother of six, Yolen lives in Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.   

Product Details

  • File Size: 2254 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (June 18, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D00WABO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,815 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cards of Grief February 25, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I became a Jane Yolen fan through this book. Her unusual style, such as is seen in the Great Alta trilogy, where history, critical judgement, and matters of the heart mingle, works absolutely perfectly here - though elsewhere it might be a little daunting to the reader. A researcher, studying the culture of a world where grief is the primary emotion, becomes involved with the Queen's Own Griever and her tragic life. The story is told in a series of interviews and flashbacks; it has depths far beyond its tiny length.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Original Compelling Fantasy July 16, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a beautiful lyrical work about a culture founded on the belief of continual grieving both as an art form, a basis of racial memory and the way that the world is maintained.
The coming of man contaminated this world and the repercusions are severe and lasting.
A beautiful work that I strongly recommend to the thoughful among us.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual, thought provoking, masterly woven tale January 1, 2011
An elegant, eloquent, haunting book - my copy is over 20 years old, has survived many moves and several readings. The book tells of a young anthropologist, Aaron Spenser, who comes to work on the planet Hederson's IV. His task - to observe, to learn, to record. The planet has perfected grieving as an art form, and grievers are held in high respect. Aaron comes too close to one of his subjects, and in doing so falls in love. The planet does not recognise or value love, and Aaron's actions have rippling repercussions for both his world and Henderson's IV. The unusual format for the telling of the tale - through recordings, some which have the subject's permission, some which don't - moves the tale through different cycles of life, love, art and grief.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing as it had great promise March 17, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The world that the author creates is clever and original. The history of the society is fascinating. But the actual story and character development falls severely flat. In many places, the book loses emotional connection, as it glances over key events and simply gives a synopsis of what happened, rather than taking us on a personal journey through the experience of the characters.

I love being taken on an adventure by an author, where you have no idea what is going on, but its very intriguing nevertheless. This book has all those necessary elements. But it feels like the author pulled back at the last minute, and the last third of the book brushes over what could have been a compelling and emotional journey.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really darn interesting October 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is interesting in much the same way sociological and anthropological texts are interesting. The plot isn't too interesting in itself, but for some reason, it is one of my favorite books I've read on my Kindle (and there has been a lot, particularly in the sci-fi realm). I just wanted to share how much it reminded me personally of some of the studies I did in college.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best in years! September 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, probably a book or two a week, and this is one of the best in a long time. What appeals to me in sci-fi literature is the speculative aspect, the "what if" factor. Jan Yolen has invented a world in which grieving is a dominant social foundation of the society. Opposite ours in which grieving is repressed. So what happens when these societys meet? She handles this question convincingly , with subtlety and great character and plot development. It's a fascinating thought provoking read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, complex world and characters September 13, 2013
By Ulrike
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The style of the story, being told through audiorecordings, is a trifle odd, and off-putting at first, but the author makes it work beautifully, and you get snippets of story that would be unavailable through more conventional story telling methods.
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5.0 out of 5 stars CARDS OF GRIEF: Buried Treasure Not to Miss April 11, 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel, originally published in 1984, may now be out of print in hard copy. If so, the Kindle Edition is a real gift to those of us who love truly thoughtful, well-composed Science Fiction. Of the "first contact" sub-genre, it transcends all genres in the depth and beauty of its portrayals of human beings and how they are bound by the ways that customs and traditions compel them to see themselves and others. The author's voice is both simple and poetic. Just after I had re-read CARDS OF GRIEF on my Kindle, I happened upon my first edition of THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, by Ursula K. LeGuin, the finest of all "first contact" novels. CARDS OF GRIEF does not suffer by comparison--the very highest compliment I can pay to Yolen's mastery. Having encountered both novels when I was a young woman, I especially recommend CARDS OF GRIEF to older readers--though Yolen was much younger when she wrote it, she touched depths that many of us don't appreciate until we are well past middle age. CARDS OF GRIEF is a treasure to be read and re-read. If you want depth and beauty as well as a good story, don't miss it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and spare and better for it
Almost dreamlike yet grounded in simple narrative stitched together from multiple view points. Lovely exploration of a cross cultural relationship
Published 1 day ago by George L Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and lush
Fascinating depiction of an entire culture based on grieving. While there is no violence or sexual content as such, there are volunrary suicides and mention of sex, although not at... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Always a pleasure to read her
Lovely exploration of grief and culture clash. Yolk is one of my all time favorite writers.
Published 1 month ago by Marie G. Winger
4.0 out of 5 stars Would I leave my species?
Again the suspension of disbelief is quite easily attained. The non chronological order of the chapters was an adjustment in the beginning of the read although once entering the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by JR
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful examination of a strange, well-developed alien world ...
A thoughtful examination of a strange, well-developed alien world, how visiting humans influence it, how it influences humans. Very well done.
Published 1 month ago by The Battle Ax
4.0 out of 5 stars Cards of Grief
What an interesting storyline. The book started slowly and then as it unfolded you were drawn into the lives of each of the characters.
Then I devoured it.
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and engaging
This was a pretty unlikely story set on another planet about a culture based upon grieving. But the characters and the plot are really engaging. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Blue Moon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Maybe my favorite book from her.
Published 6 months ago by A. Landreau
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating World
Cards of Grief creates a fascinating world containing a culture alien and familiar. It engages you at the start, holding your interest through to the end.
Published 9 months ago by Kfarver
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Yolen but so-so scifi
First contact story Good story and interesting characters but iffy scifi. How can there be inter-fertile humanoids on so many different planets? Read more
Published 19 months ago by Eskay
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More About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts. All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille. With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

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