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Strands of Starlight Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Baudino ( Dragonsword ) sets this engrossing fantasy-adventure in a mythical land that replicates the political and religious tensions of 14th-century Europe. The heroine, Miriam, unwillingly gifted with the power to heal, falls victim to a savage Inquisition that condemns her ability as witchcraft, and to a ruthless nobleman who rapes her after she saves his life. Baudino understands the psychology of the persecuted, astutely motivating the self-immolating rage that consumes Miriam and leads her to undergo a complete, magical physical metamorphosis (she becomes tall, strong and beautiful) so that she can be a scourge for her enemies. Though the plot has its share of exciting sword fights, bold rescues and similar stock-in-tradehyphens ok?-pk/ yes-rl , Baudino focuses on Miriam's interior journey--her spiritual (which accompanies the corporeal) transformation through contact with the uncorrupted Elves, with the pagan priestesses known as witches and with simple Christians. Her tale acquires an elegiac power, mourning the loss of innocent sources of wisdom even as it vividly imagines them.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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I read it and the hair on my back rose constantly as I saw our own world expressed in the medieval one shown in this book. The attempts to control people through their hope of heaven is only one of the travesties that still goes on. Each of the main characters in the book chooses for or against this dilemma, and the fate of the Free Towns and the survival of the Elves themselves hangs in the balance.
Miriam herself, trapped in hatred of the man who raped her after she healed him, is given the choice at the end of the book: how does she swing the future of the world?
There are so many little points brought out throughout the book that to enumerate them would take a book, in itself. And out of context, they would make little sense. But get a copy read it. Find the gems on your own. When I reached the end, I felt that I had been freed from a Chinese puzzle I hadn't known I was in.
Basic premise: it's the Middle Ages in Europe. A young woman with the power to heal escapes torture by the Inquisition (since such a power can only come from the devil, believe the Bad Guy priests) but not personal torment. After she heals a stranger in the forest, he rapes her -- and Miriam swears revenge. To that aim, she befriends the Elves who live in the forest of Malvern... but to achieve her goal she must undergo transformations on many levels.
Whew, that sounds like quite a handful. And it is. The author does not back away, is not shy about putting her characters in untenable situations, and yet infuses the entire story with hope, awareness of consequences, and the belief that by helping one another we can make it a better world. It's uplifting without any saccharine. And it's a great, great story with completely believable characters and incredibly powerful writing.
Some elements (not the least of which is the rape, even though presented indirectly) make this unsuitable for younger readers, but I think anyone over 12-14 is ready for the concepts presented. There's a strong element of the Goddess here. While the Catholic Church is presented as the source of some of the Bad Guys, Christians will not necessarily be turned off. (One of the main Good Guys is a priest, too.)
If you can lay your hands on a copy of this book, grab it. No question.