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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Good Book from Kay Kenyon
Kay Kenyon has established a reputation among science fiction writers for her ability to create "other worlds" that is well deserved. Less often mentioned, is her skill at developing the secondary characters in her works and how well she incorporates them into the plots. Braided World is loaded with intrigue at many levels as over a dozen characters deal with the issues...
Published on March 24, 2003 by Bert Krages

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not be fooled!
This story has none of the depth or intrigue of "The Rose and the Entire" series.

Plodding and truly laborous to read. I was thankful when it was finally over.

Numerous typos throughout the Kindle version. Really sub par. Save your time and money.
Published on February 6, 2011 by Brewermeister


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Good Book from Kay Kenyon, March 24, 2003
By 
Bert Krages (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
Kay Kenyon has established a reputation among science fiction writers for her ability to create "other worlds" that is well deserved. Less often mentioned, is her skill at developing the secondary characters in her works and how well she incorporates them into the plots. Braided World is loaded with intrigue at many levels as over a dozen characters deal with the issues of personal power, changing societies, duty, loyalty, and tolerance. The remarkable part of the novel is how clearly it depicts these issues without getting bogged down or becoming confusing. Although the book is founded on the scenario described in Kenyon's prior novel, Maximum Ice, the characters and setting are completely different. If you are getting bored with science fiction that features mostly a lot of whiz-bang and golly-gee, and want to read something that is exciting but a bit more literary, The Braided World is highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Well Built World, August 19, 2003
By 
lb136 "lb136" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
"The Braided World" returns us to the universe of Kenyon's "Maximum Ice," but a long time after the ending of that novel, and with none of the same characters.
Quickly, almost adventure game like, Kenyon sets the stage (you may think you've missed a novel in the sequence; you haven't), and then plunges you quickly into the world of the Dassa--humanlike, but not human, with a totally different way of reproducing.
Kenyon constructs this alien world so carefully (and with all of its beauty and all of its cruelty well thought out) that maybe you'll think she's actually been there. The characters are fascinating; the science seems plausible, and Kenyon hasn't lost her ability to do action scenes convincingly. (Some aren't for the squeamish, and definitely not for the under-13 set.)
What's most intriguing, however, is the way Kenyon turns the classic quest story on its head. When the humans find what they're looking for, and it's time to head home, some of them begin to think that perhaps that's not the best idea after all.
Read the tale; find out why.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great world, except for two annoying characters, April 3, 2008
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This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
I picked up Kenyon's latest, "The Bright of the Sky" from the new sci-fi shelf in the local public library and loved it so I went looking for more of her work.

The book takes place in the aftermath of a cosmic disaster which somehow "stole" information from Earth, including information in the form of genetic diversity. As a result, the human race is slowly dying off due to a lack of resistance against various infectious diseases. A mysterious message is received, giving directions to a planet in another star system. A small expedition funded by a wealthy retired singer, Bailey (forgot her surname) goes off to check it out.

They find a very Earthlike world, inhabited by humans with one startling difference: they, and other mammals, are not viviparous. They don't get pregnant. Males and females both eject their gametes into "birthing pools" and the babies grow inside symbiotic waterplants. Eventually we learn that this planet was created as a giant seed bank by some other extraterrestrial Good Samaritan to preserve Earth biology till after the passing of the "dark force" and the strange reproductive system was set up to speed up the restocking.

Sex, being totally dissociated from reproduction, takes place casually and publicly between friends (however, penetration is considered disgusting), which startles the visitors from Earth at first. The rest of the book is an exploration of how human culture might develop with such drastically different reproductive biology, while the original mission to recover Earth's lost genetic diversity becomes almost peripheral.

Despite the beauty of this planet - "The Braided World" refers to both the riverine kingdom of the Dassa and the interdependency of humans and the birth plants - it's no utopia. The Dassa and their neighbours are just as flawed, brutal, and prejudiced as Earth humans. Occasionally girls with fully functional reproductive systems are born as throwback mutants, called "hoda". Upon their discovery at menarche, their tongues are cut out and they become mute (or so we think at first) slaves for the rest of their lives. Hoda's lib becomes a passionate subplot and a personal mission for Bailey.

Readers who enjoy SF with good world-building will like this book. Although Kenyon's skills aren't as mature as in "The Bright of the Sky", the braided world is a fully fleshed-out planet. You know it's good when you wish it was a real place you could visit. Like Octavia Butler's works, this is a more bio-driven SF rather than the majority physics-driven type of story. Kenyon doesn't get in over her head with the science or let it drown out actual plot. My only quibble is that the plant-dependent reproduction is at different points in the book said to be faster than normal pregnancy OR much less efficient.

The only two major characters I found unconvincing and annoying enough to somewhat mar the book were the anthropologist Nick Venning and the biologist Cai Zhen, who are both horribly stereotypical. Venning goes from being a wide-eyed kid who wants to go everywhere and do everything against the commander's advice (think Daniel Jackson in Stargate: SG-1) to being a raving murderous bigot after incautiously taking several doses of a psychotropic drug.

Zhen was annoying on two levels: one, that she's simply a mean person and every sentence that comes out of her mouth is a snipe. This could have been justified if her dialogue was humorously sarcastic instead of just plain vicious, or if she contributed something to the plot. I kept expecting some sort of shocking revelation, like her being impregnated by one of the Dassa, but no such luck. I felt like I had been led on since the other characters make a big deal of protecting her, as the only fertile Earth "hoda" - Bailey is postmenopausal. Even her extremely minor role in the story, sequencing the DNA of native organisms, could have been filled by a friendly robot (and I mean this literally; back here in the 21st century there already are robots that do that sort of thing). The other thing is that Kenyon seems to have subconsciously written in the stereotype of the ice-cold Chinese dragon lady. I'm not accusing Kenyon of racism (the diversity of cultures and persons in her novels is beautiful and honest), but of a worse crime for a novelist: writing a BORING CHARACTER.

Before anyone comments, I'm highly aware of the irony of a Chinese female biologist complaining about a book character who's a Chinese female biologist who complains too much... I'll stop now. Read it, it's a good book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful SF, February 4, 2003
This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
Between the deaths caused by the Black Cloud and the resulting demises caused by runaway plagues, Earth is dying. It no longer has a sufficient gene pool capable of creating a viable population. Humanity's only hope lies in a message from a planet thirty light years away stating Earth can reclaim what it has lost. Billionaire Bailey Shaw funds a ship, the Restoration, which takes people to this orb, but what they find there shocks them.
The native Dassa look human-like, but do not reproduce the same way. Women that can breed get their tongues cut out and become slaves called hoda. The Dassa is not the ones who sent the message but their creators the Quads did. Nobody alive on the planet knows where the genetic markers that earth desperately needs can be found. Unless someone uncovers the puzzle, the human race will die out.
The two races that look almost identical on the surface have very different thought processes and ways of reproducing. Both distrust one another when they first meet. The punishment the Dassa mete out to childbearing women is horrific but the Terrans can do nothing to help them. If the hoda want freedom they must fight for it on their own because the people from earth must concentrate on their prime mission of saving the species. The audience will feel that Dassa society exists and author Kay Kenyon has visited the realm she has written about in her novel THE BRAIDED WORLD, which enable the audience to experience second hand this alien but fascinating orb.
Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, HORRIBLE KINDLE TRANSCRIPTION, February 2, 2010
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This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
I have become a fan of Kay Kenyon's work, and have read all her writing that I can lay my hands on, but I have to say that the books are well edited and the Kindle edition of this book looks like a bad OCR job that was not proof-read. I find it hard to believe that the typeset version of this book could not have been used to create the Kindle version, but the typos are extreme in this one. Several per page. It made reading this less enjoyable. I can't blame Kay Kenyon for this, one has to think that Amazon is responsible.
As to the book's content, it was great, just like her other books. My favorites are still the "Entire and the Rose" series, which are outstanding, and I can't wait for the next one to be released. Here's hoping somebody at Amazon starts thinking more about quality control when converting to Kindle format.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly Imagined, January 11, 2014
This review is from: The Braided World (Kindle Edition)
I like hard scifi and this book was not. But still I found it a cleverly imagined concept that kept my interest during the read. A small human contingent travels across space to this world following an alien broadcast suggesting they will find a solution to inevitable extinction of the human race. They find the world populated by almost humans who have been genetically adapted by the aliens who sent the message. The humans are eventually stranded there and they assimilate to a degree. There is political intrigue, deception, betrayal, inter species romance and a small bit of science. During all this the not quite human residents provide a creepy ominous feel to the evolving relationships with the visitors that kept me on the edge and wanting to read on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few questions remain, January 10, 2012
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This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
Mostly this was a page-turner, featuring an engaging backdrop of a river world inhabited by the Dassa, a lovely-seeming culture. Yes, I can just see the movie version in my head. They speak in a beautifully poetic way, go about in canoes, and their society seems thoroughly ideal--except for a few repellent aspects. The protagonists from Earth spend their time tiptoeing around cultural differences while they search for the Quadi--Galactic messengers who summoned them here.

Others have described the plot pretty well, so I'll skip over that, but a question occurs to me: Why would a cosmic, galaxy-spanning advanced race which has vital information for all intelligent species, hide this information and cause the seekers to decode cryptic riddles to find it? I know it makes for a good story, but when you think about it, it doesn't quite hold up. Likewise for the biological differences of the Dassa. Is there any reason why they reproduce in ponds and enslave those capable of bearing children in their wombs? How is this actually essential to the 'Galactic message' plot thread? Moreover, I would have liked to see some history of the Dassa--what happened when the Quadi first 'created' them? Was there a struggle between the "womb birthers' and the 'pond birthers'? That would have added depth to the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, March 14, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
Kay Kenyon immerses the reader into a lush, tropical world and alien culture. Will local politics and the actions of misguided humans prevent finding the cure that a plague-ridden earth desparately needs? If you like complex characters that you can empathize with, foreign cultures, romance, and a little action this book is for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unique, Character-Driven Sci-Fi, April 13, 2005
This review is from: The Braided World (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the third Kenyon novel I have read, and probably the best. She creates a wonderfully detailed world which is cinematic and compelling, and the team of crisis-stricken humans who arrive there on a desperate mission are skillfully depicted so as to draw the reader into the story.

What most captivated me -- and what kept me reading -- was the attention to character detail. I have always loved science fiction, but currently I don't find many authors who achieve this level of character development. Highly satisfying.
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4.0 out of 5 stars another good kenyon book, October 10, 2012
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This review is from: The Braided World (Kindle Edition)
title says it all. Kay Kenyon creates a substantial fantasy universe that is coherent with her particular vision of the future at the time. I have enjoyed all her books and always look for more.
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The Braided World
The Braided World by Kay Kenyon (Mass Market Paperback - February 4, 2003)
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