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The Birthgrave- Tanith Lee rebelaessedai Send a noteboard - 25/02/2012 09:05:08 AM
Tanith Lee's The Birthgrave is one of the best pieces of feminist speculative fiction I have ever read.

The main character is a woman of the old race- humanlike creatures with apparent immortality and powers above and beyond that which we possess. She awakens in a volcano, and is told by the spirit in the fire that she is the last of her kind and will spread a curse of unhappiness across the land, unless she can unlock the secrets to the power and knowledge hidden within herself. Thus she leaves the mountain on a series of adventures, trying to discover the lost truth of her own past.

This book is about power: the power of belief, the power of the Other, and the power of womankind. As our main character, nameless, interacts with the world around her, she takes many roles: that of goddess, slave, warrior, healer. Lee does a fantastic job of painting more primitive human cultures, lost in their own beliefs and unwilling or unable to see the world around them for what it is because of their dogma and fear. Through these cultures drifts our heroine, a complex woman of quicksilver, trying to understand the legacy left her by her forebears.

The focus of her story for me is that while she has the physical and mental powers of her kind, the real victory comes from her strength of will. In a world dominated by men, she is both revered and feared, for while she hides what she can, the men around her- especially those with power- can sense that there is more to her than meets the eye. These men use her for their own gain. Some put her on a pedestal; others suppress her. But they are always watching her, because they know that her substance is something they cannot even begin to guess. In this, she represents the true inner strength of all womankind, for isn't the male of our species always trying to define and understand us? Our nameless heroine runs the gamut of all that men have done in the effort to realize a definition for the power and beauty of womanhood.

But it's the eventual outcome of her quest that is truly refreshing and surprising- through it, she finally comes to understand that there is no need for an outward locus of self. All the answers to those confusions and mysteries are there inside her. She is not cursed, but blessed.

Highly recommended.
Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position. - Bill Maher
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The Birthgrave- Tanith Lee - 25/02/2012 09:05:08 AM 6334 Views
So glad you liked it. - 28/02/2012 04:40:42 PM 722 Views
I know! - 06/03/2012 10:23:27 PM 684 Views
I just didn't love it. - 06/03/2012 06:10:38 PM 757 Views
Hehe - 06/03/2012 10:25:03 PM 711 Views
I really enjoy her science fiction. - 07/03/2012 02:50:59 AM 847 Views
Wow, thank you. - 15/03/2012 12:37:48 AM 775 Views

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