Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-07-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Butler's debut fantasy, set in a quasi-medieval world, features a strong-willed, educated woman and a plot focused on the power of books. Doctora Bann is a princess, former wife, and the only woman taught to read and write by the Vere scholars. She must unravel an enigmatic letter from an unknown land. With a year's deadline and the aid of a cook and a young man, both of whom have the rare gift of literacy, she throws herself into old, neglected tomes, even learning to read a formerly dead language. Following up leads, she revisits her teachers and her family, solving their troubles along the way. Keenly aware of the game of politics and dealing with a short temper, Bann conveys the oddness of her unsteady social status as a disgraced ex-wife and scholar barely tolerated in a male-dominated, illiterate society. Told in a clear style, the story moves along steadily, if a bit slowly at times. It's full of machinations and fight scenes, while also capturing the pleasures of scholarly investigation. (Dec.)