“It’s not a sacrifice if it doesn’t mean anything to you.”
Attention to detail evokes a world and culture similar to ours, yet not. Details large and small meld with details realistic, mythic and unlikely to suck the reader into the spell of her story. Sprinkled with aphorisms. (Too bad she italicizes them; heavy handed.)
“Different skies, different gods.”
Excellent depiction of the impact of beliefs on perceptions. Most modern fantasy dismisses all religion with a wink and a smirk. Bear takes it seriously. Religion doesn’t just impact how we perceive the world; it impacts the world perceived. Her portrayal adds depth to the characters and the story.
“Women are as capable—and as dangerous—as any man.”
No stupid girls with high-heeled shoes and samurai swords. These women are tough and formidable in their own way. Characters whose motivation and actions fit their lives and times.
“All religions are equal, under mine.”
Modern readers and writers have a warped view of history. If they don’t think their culture can do no wrong, they think it can do no good … and other cultures can do no wrong. History indicates that there is good and bad in all of us, and good and bad in all cultures, religions and classes. Again a realistic presentation of the motives and prejudices of all the players is so much more believable.
“All men fancy themselves warriors.”
Brought the first section to a satisfying close while hooking the reader into the next book. Proof that epic fantasy can be done with the sweep of real history and the compactness of three volumes.
“Tests are games … lives will depend on what you do next.”