by Meredith Ann Pierce
When Alma created the world, most of it she made into the Great Grass Plain, which was not a flat place, but rolling like a mare’s back and covered all over with the greencorn and haycorn and the wild oats, knee high, so that when the wind stirred it, billowing, it looked like a mare’s winter coat blowing (1)
I loved the opening and ending and the tone it lent to the entire book.
I loved the subtle way it developed. I love her writing. I love how she takes mythological creatures and gives them culture. And on top of that, there is a sense of beauty in all the creatures, even the “bad” ones (the wyverns).
It scarcely resembled anything he had imagined of wyverns from the singers’ tales: white and sinuous, yes, but not noxious, not hideous. Very lithe and supple, rather –almost…almost beautiful (156).
But that’s part of the message, I think. It’s big, it’s broad. I really like it.
I love the developed world, the nuances, the idea of stolen land.
Oh, I loved the “children of the moon” bit and the correlation between the moon and Alma. I also especially liked the milkweed plants.
It just really resonated with me. I really loved this book. Highly recommend it.
Although it does have a trippy out of body experience, and the conclusion with who Firebringer is, is kind of obvious I thought. Especially with his strong hotheaded behavior.
But I really couldn’t guess who the narrator was. The sudden shift from third person to first person was a little jarring.
One of my personal favorite scenes was when Jan and Dagg get lost and see the pans dancing and storytelling and fire-making.
“The pans were coming into the glade.
They moved in a long file, a whole band of them, and made themselves into a Circle… And then, within the Circle under the moon, three pans began to dance. Goat-footed, high-stepping, they moved and swayed.
“They dance,” Jan murmured, with a start of surprise.
Dagg shook his head. “Only the unicorns dance.”
But it was so” (92).
It was the first time Jan began to realize there was more cultures and ways of seeing than just the Circle’s way. That and that maybe what the Circle claims is true is questionable.
“Jan shook his head again, but kept his tongue. It WAS speech, he was sure of it. Then that legend of the pans in the old lays must be false. The goatlings were NOT speechless, had not turned away the Mother’s gift. The discovery astonished him” (93).
The other reason I liked the scene was the way it very smoothly presented the idea that just because someone seems “primitive” or the stories you hear claim someone is, doesn’t mean they or their culture is. Communication, beauty, and value in a specific culture, ethnic, or species (in the case of the book) is unique to that specific culture, ethnic or species group. It should be seen as beautiful for its own sake/as it is.
But this tale marks only the first night of my telling. Come to me tomorrow evening, and I will tell you the rest. (234)