Friday, February 21, 2014


Since the Madronians conquered the people of R'tan, the R'tan have suffered the loss of their culture, including freedom to worship and severance of their bonds, but for Tiadone, the worst choice was made at the moment of her birth. Because of the Madronian preference for firstborn sons, firstborn daughters are either left exposed in the desert or--rarely--declared male. A declared male must wear an amulet to suppress feminine qualities at all times, and is legally male in the eyes of  the world, save that one cannot marry.
As the first declared male in her village, Tiadone's coming of age is viewed with suspicion by many. If she succeeds, other families may choose to declare their firstborn daughters--but is the choice worth it?
There were several fresh, outstanding elements in this book. First of all, the story is set in a wilderness, rather than the standard fantasy forest or castle. It also presents a cultural clash in a way rare for young adult fantasy.
But the element I found most intriguing was the publisher's willingness to promote a book with elements of transgenderism. Blink, a YA imprint of Zondervan,  seems to be willing to risk a controversial topic that could earn the foes on both sides of the aisle. Without giving away the end of the story, I will say that perhaps emotional complexity was sacrificed for moral clarity, but I'd still be willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt on any potential sequels.

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