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The White Serpent (1988)

av Tanith Lee

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: The Wars of Vis (3)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1771157,290 (3.21)2
A recognized master fantasist, Tanith Lee has won multiple awards for her craft, including the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Horror. The White Serpent returns to the world of Vis nearly a century after the reign of Raldnor, the legendary Storm Lord who brought peace to Dorthar. Despite his efforts, the people are once again divided by conflict, and the goddess Anackire must choose new champions if the realm is to have any hope of preservation.... As a child, Rehger was sold into slavery, torn from his home and family. As a young man, he has proved his martial prowess as a lauded gladiator, fighting in the grand city of Saardsimney. But in the midst of his rise to fame, he meets Aztira, an intriguing woman who wields devastating power. With her magic and knowledge, she could be the person who transforms his life of subservience and leads him to his destiny. But before he can fully uncover the truth of their connection, a powerful earthquake strikes, devastating the city and forcing Rehger to flee. Haunted by visions of Aztira long after their first encounter, Rehger embarks on a quest to seek out her people, the legendary Amanackire, in a city shrouded in mystery and myth....… (mer)
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    Iron Dawn av Matthew Woodring Stover (Anonym användare)
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» Se även 2 omnämnanden

After enjoying book 2 of this series more than the first volume I hoped the trend would continue. However, I found this book very uneven.

The themes here are slavery and the oppression of women, and what women have to do to survive. Those aspects are interesting yet the grinding misogyny of most of the male characters becomes pretty wearing after a time. The putative hero, Rehger, is sold into slavery by his uncle as a young child after witnessing the uncle repeatedly beating his mother Tibo and so is opposed to violence against women. He is a hero of the gladiator-type culture in the city of Saardsinmey, but his fate becomes entwined with a woman of the Amanakire, the most extreme of the Lowlander peoples. (The Lowlanders are the white race who were oppressed in book 1 but who rose to power as a result of the events of that novel and who now look down on the darker skinned races - the darkest people are the most oppressed now, with "mixes" more privileged depending on how "white" they appear.) The Amanakire have developed the psychic abilities of the Lowlanders to a new level and can command godlike powers such as healing wounds that would otherwise be fatal. Eventually it is revealed that they have created a secret city in a remote area of the continent with the intent of at some point subjecting the dark skinned people totally as they have already done to their slaves.

For much of the book, Rehger remains ignorant of his true parentage - his father was a traveller passing through whom his mother Tibo nursed back to health. Her husband was a "simpleton" in a backwater remote settlement in a country where women are chattels despite the local deity being a goddess, so she had been unable to have children previously. At one point she has to prove she isn't an adultress by passing a 'fixed' ordeal devised by the local priesthood, but with the aid of some supernatural force - perhaps the snake goddess who was prominent in the first two volumes - she manages to do so and is saved from being stoned.

The other slave whose story is followed is Pandruv, a fire dancer and at the top of her profession in Saardsinmey. As such she enjoys a good standard of living, is paid for her dancing and even has her own servants, with noblemen vying for her favours. Yet despite this there is an undercurrent of hatred towards women, and dark skinned women in particular, in the insults constantly directed at her, despite the fact that the city is cosmopolitan and less overtly oppressive to women than the backwater in which Tibo lives. The tragedy which overtakes Saardsinmey throws Panduv into a situation where her best hope of survival is in manipulating a young priest who is destined to achieve his ambitions, and to help him to do so. As a black woman she is doubly oppressed.

One thing that rather confused me was the motif of Rehger as a descendant of Amrek, the villain of book 1, because I had thought that the whole point was that Amrek was impotent with his bride in that story, the woman who eventually ended up with the hero of that book. I know Rehger's father descends from the woman in book 2 who became a priestess of the snake goddess and who apparently married into the royal family in that country (the story in book 3 is set years later) but how she could have been the daughter of Amrek puzzled me somewhat. There are so many characters in these books, often with similar names, that it does become quite hard to keep everything distinct.

Another problem I had with the current story is that the ending of Rehger's journey does not make sense. Are we to believe he throws himself out of the boat like some stereotyped lovesick romantic heroine just because he has been sent away from the secret city of the Amanakire? I did not really believe in his relationship with the Amanakire woman, and the reader is only given her side of the story late on, in the form of a condensed infodump about her life history up to the point where she met him, and the explanation that she voluntarily undergoes death and rebirth to reach the next level in the Amanakire evolution as a means of granting Rehger the chance to survive the catastrophe that strikes his city.

The development of a couple of female characters - Tibo, Rehger's mother, and Panduv was a welcome change from the first two books where women were ciphers or stereotypes, yet the story of Tibo cuts off inconclusively - we see her with Panduv when her master has taken her with him to the remote settlement to investigate reports that Tibo is a witch (she has developed healing powers). Panduv is able to tell Tibo about her lost son although she believes him killed in the disaster. Tibo in return takes her to a 'temple' which has been working its way out of the hillside for years and which is responsible for her powers. It seems from that, and certain hints through the three books about the darker skinned peoples arriving from the sky in dragon ships, that they were actually colonists from another planet and that this is the remains of their technology, but that is not followed up. Neither is the story of Tibo - was she saved from being condemned again or not?

Ultimately for me the story suffers because unlike book 2 there were no really likeable characters. I was sympathetic to Tibo and Panduv but their lot seemed, if not hopeless, pretty grim. There are some great set pieces, mood setting and descriptions of action, but the story didn't really engage me. For this reason, I can only award it 2 stars. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (5 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Tanith Leeprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Ewyck, Annemarie vanÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
SanjulianOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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A recognized master fantasist, Tanith Lee has won multiple awards for her craft, including the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Horror. The White Serpent returns to the world of Vis nearly a century after the reign of Raldnor, the legendary Storm Lord who brought peace to Dorthar. Despite his efforts, the people are once again divided by conflict, and the goddess Anackire must choose new champions if the realm is to have any hope of preservation.... As a child, Rehger was sold into slavery, torn from his home and family. As a young man, he has proved his martial prowess as a lauded gladiator, fighting in the grand city of Saardsimney. But in the midst of his rise to fame, he meets Aztira, an intriguing woman who wields devastating power. With her magic and knowledge, she could be the person who transforms his life of subservience and leads him to his destiny. But before he can fully uncover the truth of their connection, a powerful earthquake strikes, devastating the city and forcing Rehger to flee. Haunted by visions of Aztira long after their first encounter, Rehger embarks on a quest to seek out her people, the legendary Amanackire, in a city shrouded in mystery and myth....

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