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While I was listening to this book on audio, I kept thinking "This is like beautiful poetry. This is like a 5 course dinner". I don't even LIKE poetry and am not sure that a formal cruise ship dinner rates as any 5-course, but it was the only way my brain could interpret and define how beautifully Ms Bear put her words and this story together.
This story is about as far from fast-paced as you can get, but it builds and builds and builds while you realize what it's all about. Women and (in)equality of power, prejudice, religion, gender identity, life, love....and magic.
All of that sounds like an exhausting list, but is done so subtly that you don't get hit over the head with anything. Much like the exquisite unwinding of her language, the plot slowly unwinds as well. Right up to the bang at the end.
I cannot express how eager I am to get my hands on the rest of the series. This book was VERY well done. Hm....re-reading my review. Perhaps I used the wrong analogy; some of you lucky souls will get what I mean. :)