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Lifelode Hardcover – February 13, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Hardcover, February 13, 2009
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: NESFA Press; Limited edition (February 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1886778825
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886778825
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,611,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jo Walton has published twelve novels, three poetry collections, and an essay collection, with another novel due out in June 2016. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, the World Fantasy Award in 2004 for Tooth and Claw, and the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2012 for Among Others. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are much better. She writes science fiction and fantasy, reads a lot, talks about books, and eats great food. She plans to live to be ninety-nine and write a book every year.

Her livejournal, with wordcount, poetry, recipes and occasional actual journalling, is at: http://papersky.livejournal.com She also blogs about old books at Tor.com: http://www.tor.com/Jo%20Walton

Her real grown up website with info about her books, stories, plays and poetry is at http://www.jowaltonbooks.com


The King's Peace (Tor 2000)
The King's Name (Tor 2001)
The Prize in the Game (Tor 2002)
Tooth and Claw (Tor 2003, reprinted Orb 2009)
Farthing (Tor 2006)
Ha'Penny (Tor 2007)
Half a Crown (Tor 2008)
Lifelode (NESFA 2009)
Among Others (Tor 2011)
My Real Children (Tor 2014)
The Just City (Tor 2015)
The Philosopher Kings (Tor July 2015)

Necessity (forthcoming Tor June 2016)

Poetry Collections

Muses and Lurkers (Rune Press 2001)
Sibyls and Spaceships (NESFA 2009)
The Helix and the Hard Road (Aqueduct 2013)

Essay Collections

What Makes This Book So Great (Tor 2014).

An Informal History of the Hugos (Forthcoming, Tor 2016)


Copper Cylinder Award (Among Others 2012)

Hugo: (Among Others 2012)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2002

Kurd Lasswitz Award (for Among Others, 2014)

Locus Award Best Non Fiction (for What Makes This Book So Great, 2015)

Mythopoeic Award (for Lifelode, 2010)

Nebula Award (for Among Others, 2012)

Prometheus Award (for Ha'Penny) 2008

Robert Holdstock Award (Among Others, 2012)

Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Farthing) 2007
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Half a Crown) 2009
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Among Others 2012)
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for My Real Children, 2015)

Tiptree Award (for My Real Children 2015)

World Fantasy Award (for Tooth and Claw) 2004

Award Nominations

Aurora Award (My Real Children, 2015)
Indie Lit Awards: (Among Others 2012)
John W. Campbell Memorial (Farthing 2007)
Lambda (SF with gay/lesbian issues) (Ha'Penny 2008)
Locus (Farthing 2007, Among Others 2012)
Mythopoeic (Among Others 2012)
Nebula (Farthing 2007)
Prometheus (Libertarian) (Half a Crown 2009)
Quill (Farthing 2007)
Rhysling (SF poetry) (2007: "Candlemass Poem", in Lone Star Stories, Feb 2006)
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice (Ha'Penny 2008)
Seiun (Best work translated into Japanese) (Farthing, Ha'Penny, Half a Crown 2011, Among Others 2015)
Sidewise (Alternate History) (Farthing 2007, Ha'Penny 2008, Half a Crown 2009)
Sunburst (Canadian Literature of the Fantastic) (Half a Crown 2009, My Real Children 2015)
Tiptree Honor (Lifelode 2010)
World Fantasy Award (Among Others 2012, My Real Children 2015)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Applekirk is a small rural community, where time is strange; months may pass elsewhere while years pass in Applekirk. Here, people go about their business, in the farms and in the manor house, leading their lives as they're bid to by each one's own lifelode, that part of their self which tells them what their talent and work should be in life. Taveth is the quiet heart of the manor house, keeping it in order as she keeps its extended family in order, according to her lifelode. She also has a strange talent: she sees multiple times at once, and multiple selves of the people she interacts, their past, present, and future selves. When two new people come to Applekirk, they disrupt the quiet orderliness of its routine and its people's lives.

I was struck with delight about fifteen pages into _Lifelode_ when I suddenly realized that Walton was using Rumer Godden's trick of narrating as though everything is happening at once, moving backward and forward in time. I found that fascinating in Godden's _China Court_ and _Take Three Tenses_, and I've never encountered it anywhere else. Taveth describes it this way: "Time, she knows, is an illusion. Things seem to happen one after another, but when you look back they all happened at once and seemed at the time to be part of one story was part of another...."

In her introduction, Sharyn November calls _Lifelode_ a domestic fantasy, which I think is an apt description. I found it very much a celebration of love and family and home, although it also involves politics on a small scale and religion on a much larger scale. I think it may well develop into my favorite of Walton's books (which is saying something, given how much I love the Farthing series and Tooth and Claw).
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Format: Hardcover
Sharyn November's introduction compares it to The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean & Deerskin by Robin McKinley, which are two of my favourite books. I'm not put in mind of Deerskin that much, but the feeling does resemble The Dubious Hills, in the sense of a familiar-yet-strange village sitting in the middle of a great deal of magic & being the site of an important choice. Taveth, one of the mainest main characters, is housewife/chatelaine of the local castle, & in a poly arrangement with her husband, the lord of the manor, & a potter who is the lord of the manor's wife. Taveth can see through time to people's past or future selves, & see some of the memories of Applekirk village. Two strangers, Jankin the scholar & Hanethe the wizard, come to Applekirk, & set off a chain of events which leave the village...the same & not the same.

The people who read Jacqueline Carey & have been clamouring for another sex-positive novel will be pleased, although there is no explicit sex. But poly relationships are the norm (the occasional dyad is looked on as strange & charming) & both male & female priests go around naked, which is accepted as the norm, although I think a horny youth looks at Ghislain's breasts once.

There's also people of varying colours represented in the characters, although I think the main characters are light-skinned. People are described as varying colours of wood rather than white or black, & there isn't an assumption that people are one colour or another, or at least not one that I picked up on. Maybe that's something you bring with you to the books you read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Walton complains in the FAQ at the end of this novel that people don't like standalone novels, but I personally think she does well in them: her earlier novels The Prize in the Game and Ha'penny felt like they were suffering a bit from sequelitis compared to the highly original books they followed on from; whereas by contrast her standalones The King's Peace/The King's Name (one novel in three parts and two volumes), Tooth and Claw, Farthing, "Lifelode" all came across as refreshingly different from her previous material.

"Lifelode" tells the story of how the scholar Jankin came to meet Hanethe, who has fled the vengeance of a goddess. Jankin is from the Westmarch, where yeya doesn't work, "yeya" being to "magic" as "armiger" was to "knight" in "The King's Peace", i.e. a term that conveys the meaning but without the associations of the term we're used to. Hanethe by contrast, has come back from the east, where "people run together and separate as fast as rainbows on oil, and only the gods can keep themselves whole" (and if that doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will).
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