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Lifelode Hardcover – February 13, 2009
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Taveth has a special power that allows her to see the past, present and future of individuals all at a glance. The story itself tells of the past, present and future--all in the present tense. It's a little confusing at first, but, then you learn how to figure out the time based on the context.
The story -As summer ends things are going along routinely for the family. They are preparing for the harvest. Taveth is planning what to store to get the family through the winter. Jankin, an academic from the university town of Marakanda, to the west of Applekirk, comes to stay with the family. Jankin is studying the Marisians; the ancient peoples thought to have setteled the area around Applekirk. The same day that Jankin arrives at Applekirk Hanethe, great-greatgrandmother of Ferrand arrives home. Hanethe was once lord of the manor. She left many generations ago and no one alive remembers her except by name. Only decades have passed for Hanethe . She has very powerful yeya. Hanethe is returning to Applekirk after having provoked the god Agdisdis. Agdisdis is the god of childbirth. Agdisdis will use many people, including Jankin, to exact her revenge upon Hanethe. Agdisdis' revenge will have profound effects upon the family and the village of Applekirk.
A plus for foodies --- because the story centers around Taveth and her lifelode is housekeeping you get to read about every meal that she cooks. Reading this book made me hungry.
This is a limited edition book. Only 800 copies were printed. ( I have #242). If you're interested in this book I'd recommend looking for it as soon as possible before the limited edition sells out.
Highly recommended, 4/5 stars.
"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). The novel takes place in the village of Applekirk, where Hanethe had walked away from being lord sixty years earlier (time running slower the further east you travel). (This whole east/west conceit I learned in the FAQ is an attempt to do the Zones of Thought of Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep in a fantasy setting, which, frankly, I am ashamed of myself for not spotting as I read.)
The novel is told largely (though far from exclusively) from the viewpoint of Taveth, the housekeeper of the Applekirk manor, and in a strange omniscient style that refuses to recognise tenses--appropriate enough for Taveth, who can see echoes of the past and future; perhaps less appropriate when in other people's heads. In this style, bits of speech are reported in advance of when you get to hear them in context, which means they resonate for you when they do, nicely paralleling how Taveth perceives the world.
Along with all of the above comes an exploration of a societal structure which takes polyamory for granted, and one which reacts to the possibility of a key conceit in "The King's Peace" the opposite way to the society in that novel; also one in which no one (bar the teenage point-of-view character) bats an eyelid at the fact all priests are naked all the time. As with all good fiction, the reader is drawn sufficiently into the world being portrayed that none of this seems at all strange.
In summary, this is in my not so humble opinion, a top-class, if slightly unconventional, fantasy novel which ought to be better known.
But back to WHY Amazon charges the full list price for this book. It's a number edition of less than 900 copies. If I had known that from the start, I wouldn't have hesitated to order my copy immediately. But I don't see that fact listed anywhere in the Produce Description. There should be a slot in the description for including details like these. Whether or not a book has a limited print run, is hand numbered or may be a signed copy are important details to my way of thinking. How do you make suggestions to Amazon regarding matters like this??