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Five-Twelfths of Heaven Paperback – April 1, 1985

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Baen; First Edition edition (April 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671559524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671559526
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,284,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Melissa Scott has played with a lot of conventional genres and SF story elements, but her best work pushes some of the boundaries. In Five-Twelfths of Heaven, she creates an unusual - and successful - cross between fantasy and science fiction, as well as continuing her tradition of dealing with gender roles and society.
The universe of Five-Twelfths is a fairly standard one in some ways. The Hegemon, a widening empire of many planets, is a tightly-controlled, autocratic society that places extreme limits on women; women must be veiled at all times, aren't allowed to own property or take legal actions, etc. However, the fantasy element comes in with the elements of star travel, which are much like magic, and especially the magi, who are able to use spells to control both Purgatory (the celestial, partially supermaterial state attainable by material creatures) and Hell (the submaterial state). The blending of the typical SF and unusual fantasy elements make this world a unique and complete creation, interesting in its own right.
The plot is also fairly good. Five-Twelfths is the story of Silence, a woman in the very male-restricted profession of pilot. Caught up in circumstances beyond her control, she makes an unusual alliance, finds herself pitted against the Hegemony, and discovers that she has powers in excess of anything anyone expected.
All in all, a satisfying read and much more interesting than is usual in science fantasy blends. Scott makes the most of her talents in this book - pity it's out of print, but many libraries will have a copy.
(NB: Five-Twelfths of Heaven is the first in a trilogy - the sequels are Silence in Solitude and The Empress of Earth - that should definitely be read in order.)
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Format: Kindle Edition
Melissa Scott has crafted a beautifully unique world with its own rules and castes that are complicated but presented in a masterful way that makes it easy to delve right in. Silence Leigh is an amazing character (and yes, her unique name is commented on and explained in a really great way), as are her crewmates.

The act of space travel is explored here in a way that is rarely seen in sci-fi. Most franchises tend to just have a captain say "Bring me that horizon" and the ship goes. This novel makes it a more mechanical process, like the ancient mariners checking their sextants and gauging the winds before setting sail.

Parts of the story involving the ship, cargo, the crew, pirates, etc, reminded me of Firefly, but this novel was written fifteen years before the pilot of that show aired. So technically Firefly is reminiscent of THIS, but the entire book is a beautifully-formed creature all of its own.

Very glad this trilogy is being released in Kindle editions. It deserves a place among the pantheon of great speculative fiction.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now sadly out of print (except for Kindle), I bought this used paperback copy of "Five-twelfths of Heaven" to replace one I have loved to pieces. I liked the protagonist so much I threatened to name my daughter "Silence" after her. There is so, so much to enjoy in this book and it's two sequels, "Silence on Solitude" and "The Empress of Earth": Fascinating characters, solid world building, a gripping plot, thundering space opera, and a space-faring civilization built on a well-thought-out system of magic-based technology. There's even an off-beat romance and women's lib thrown into the mix. I could go on. Highly recommended.
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By Di on October 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Scott has created a most welcome new world in science fiction. Her characters are immediately "real" and able to bring the reader into their thoughts and feelings. There is enough parallel in customs and mores that the reader is able to understand what is happening on even imaginary worlds; and, the science is quite believable, especially since metaphor is a primary means of communicating these scientific principles. I am delighted to find another author of stories in this genre that appeal to the intellect as well as satisfy my need for adventure and communion.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read Five Twelfths of Heaven (and the other Roads of Heaven books) as they were published. It is impossible to convey to today's readers how unique refreshing these books were at the time. Melissa Scott is a great writer, and I can recommend anything she writes. Compare her books with her contemporaries and you'll be amazed how well her books hold up in comparison.

Silence is a unique individual. A female star pilot, she lives in a very backward (and familiar-sounding) culture that does not treat women as equals. In spite of that, she perseveres and embarks on amazing adventure.

The idea of starships being powered by magic/alchemy was new at the time (1985), and marked a departure from the standard formula for space opera. Read this book, and the rest of the series. You won't be disappointed,
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Format: Paperback
I felt that Scott was trying a little too hard to get Silence and her husbands into deeper and deeper trouble. Almost like they were living Murphy's Law. However, I still enjoyed the book and I really appreciated the way Scott handles Silence being a female pilot in an extremely male-dominated field. Silence does not feel inferior, but she realizes that due to some planets' customs life as a female pilot is more difficult. With reluctance, Silence realizes that she must partner up with two men in order to escape the mess her uncle has left her in. With that said, Silence still shines as the heroine of the book. The ending really leaves you hanging and now I have to find the second book, which is out of print.
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