Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
SINGER from the SEA Hardcover – April 22, 1999
Books with Buzz
"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history. See more
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Sheri S. Tepper has crafted a far-future fantasy that reads like the best of whodunits: murder, religion, treason, a mysterious ailment called batfly fever, interplanetary spies, true love, and planetary consciousness are the strands that make up this colorful tale. She limns the culture of this new world so skillfully that the reader never has cause to doubt its 1000-year history.
A nontechnology planet, Haven was seeded by one of the Ark ships that carried humanity away from a dying Earth. Purchased by a consortium of wealthy men who chose peace over progress, the planet and its people appear to be thriving--all except young noblewomen. In the millennium since Haven was settled, it has become a sad truth that these women often die in childbirth or shortly thereafter, while commoners flourish and produce bountiful offspring. Noblewomen are raised to live, marry, and give birth as custom demands, adhering to strict religious and cultural tenets, for they "have been taught that women are happiest in gracious submission to the covenants."
Lady Genevieve, motherless from a young age, experiences visions and knows that somehow she is fundamentally different from those around her--but how different she is may surprise even the most experienced Tepper reader. An ancient voice is calling Genevieve to her destiny, although her path continues to be unclear. Together with the gentle Colonel Aufors Leys, she pieces together a horrifying revelation that will change their lives forever--but don't fear: there is good and wonder mixed in here as well.
Singer from the Sea begins with a deceptively simple storyline and evolves into an ecofeminist tale of the struggle to save the women of Haven, and indeed the planet itself, from a uniquely hideous end. --Jhana Bach
From Publishers Weekly
On a planet covered almost entirely by oceans, two small countries lie side by side. The societies of both are carefully constructed around a single, deadly secret that only old men share. Those who don't know the secret can't imagine how deeply it affects their entire world, and those who do will sacrifice anything, and anyone, to keep things exactly as they are. Noble women, like Genevieve, do not live long. Most die in childbirth or soon thereafter of the mysterious batfly fever, for which there is an equally sinister medicine, P'naki. Genevieve's life, like all lives on Haven, is carefully scripted by the ancient Covenants, but her fate was arranged long before her people even landed on the planet, for she has been chosen to restore the natural balance of life and death. Don't mess with the "world spirit" or the great "Whatever," warn the followers of the planet's two mystical religions, but some men haven't listened, and now divine retribution is coming: Genevieve is to be the harbinger of the planet's transformation. This is a mystical, well-imagined feminist tale with enough hidden powers and intrigue to make it feel like a mystery. The societies that Tepper (Six Moon Dance) creates are frighteningly believable; her characters are multi-textured and full of life. Narrative flow slows because of repetitious dialogue in the novel's middle, but otherwise the storytelling is fluid and captivating.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
a better world builder than Sheri Tepper. And with further apologies
to Ursula LeGuin, no one handles gender issues and emotional
ambiguities better than Ms. Tepper. Her prose remains brilliant, the
plot is complex, and the character development extensive.
On a world divided into nobility and commoners, where women are slaves
and pawns, we find that the royalty has discovered a drug which will
give them extremely long lives. The story progresses as an
intelligent, but compliant young woman becomes trapped in the politics
of the creation and distribution of this drug, and ultimately, the
planet's future becomes balanced upon her acceptance of her own
Only Sheri Tepper, with her confident story telling, could
explore the nuances of such strong gender roles without lapsing into
modern American feminist diatribe. Her characters do not expostulate,
they talk to each other and we are led through their lives and through
their thoughts. It takes me forever to read through a Tepper book.
Her vocabulary is large, and her sentences are complicated. Ideas are
not thrust onto the page fully developed, rather they evolve with
precision through careful reading and attention to details. However,
like viewing a painting, the greatest pleasure is gained through slow
and careful attention to the work at hand. As you can tell, I highly
recommend this book. And if you can find "Grass" or
"Raising the Stones", you won't be disappointed.
What I love about Tepper is the intricacies of the worlds and the myths she crafts. SIX MOON DANCE featured a remarkable creation and destruction myth (which turns out to be real), a mystery, and several non-human species. SINGER FROM THE SEAS makes the creation myth less explicit (because it has been forgotten by some of the people who should have remembered it), and there is a definite mystery developing.
The very basic plot is that Genevieve, a noblewoman and the daughter of a high-ranking military commander, is left motherless and is packed off by her father to school. There she is to be trained to be a suitable wife, in a rigid and apparently unchanging society where women have virtually no rights, where the mortality rate among young women is surprisingly high, and where young women of her rank are forbidden to sing.
In the first part of the novel, Genevieve is very naive but quickly learns more and more about the complexities of her society, becoming an accomplished hostess (completely unappreciated by her father). She also falls for a commoner, her father's equerry, but knows that marriage between them is not according to tradition. Even a strange request from an older relative does not completely shake her sense of security, although she does begin to question some incongruities. Then, the Prince (heir to the ruler) asks for her hand, sending her into panic. To accept him means a) that she will be parted from her love, and b) that she might die young in childbirth, as do nearly all noblewomen. To refuse him means disaster for herself and her father. Her father is the stereotypical seasoned warrior, completely naive about court politics, but also completely indifferent to his daughter's feelings and aspirations.
So Genevieve runs away (i.e. begins her quest), and has a number of adventures, some resembling Bilbo Baggins's encounter with Gollum (THE HOBBIT). And then, she has a mystical experience with a creature in the seas who tells her to go back to the Prince. Before she does, she has an affair with her lover who has come to rescue her, and falls pregnant. To her puzzlement, the Prince does not stand in the way of their marriage, and even seems pleased by her pregnancy. And the couple, together with the Prince, her father and some other high officials, sets sail for the other major island on their world.
And there, events are set in motion leading to a horrific revelation about why so many young mothers die, and why the leaders of their world are so long-lived. By the end, the sinners are punished, and Genevieve emerges victorious and practically unscathed with her husband and new-born child. The quest has ended, or has it?
Parts of this novel are truly remarkable, including the prologue which might give you a wrong impression of who has married whom until the middle of the novel, the scenes in the desert, the penultimate confrontation between Genevieve and her father. Other parts are alas, less than satisfactory, including the transformation of the Marshal (Genevieve's father) from a not-very-smart but skilled warrior and leader into an inhumane man willing to sacrifice his own flesh-and-blood. The change is too quick, too easy, and too stereotyped. Furthermore, the motivation of the leaders is understandable, but they are all (with a few exceptions) stereotyped, in that they have sacrificed the lives and happiness of so many others without any qualms, and even, no nightmares. It would have helped, for example, to have shown more of the qualms faced by one youngish nobleman Willum who spares someone he loves - but has no qualms about killing others.
Making the leaders and their immediate followers a bit more multidimensional would have helped. The oldest leaders were clearly infantile, but showing the transformation of some others would have added so much more to this book.
I also admit to be one of those people who is not entirely happy with the metaphysical concepts advanced by Sherri Tepper to explain the rise and fall of worlds. It seems that worlds can be destroyed quite satisfactory through mankind's stupidity, without needing any abstract explanations. Also, for a greater sense of purpose, it would have been very interesting to see if Genevieve had been able to get out of her trouble alone (or with the help of her friends), rather than depending on the creatures from the seas.
Rating = 4.3
So read it and enjoy one of the last angry women in America. Yikes!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This Tepper novel is a strongly-stressed parable about consuming: eating, spoiling, using up and undervaluing resources from...Read more
will conclude that whole thing is...Read more