Friday, April 29, 2016

Follow Friday - "253" Is a Very Quirky Novel by Geoff Ryman

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and a single Follow Friday Featured Blogger each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - Caffeine and Books.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Three favorite heroines, books they're in, and why you love them.

These may not be my absolute favorite heroines of all time, as I would be hard-pressed to come up with a list that was as short as three choices, but these are three heroines who I liked quite a bit when I read the books they appear in.

Breq, who is found in Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy: Given the language of the Radch Empire in which Breq lives, it is uncertain if she is, in fact, a heroine, because the Radchai don't use gender-specific pronouns. In the books, this is represented by having everyone use female pronouns for everyone else - meaning that some male characters in the books have their gender occluded by the language. However, I am reasonably confident that Breq is female through much of the story. For other parts of the story, she is the starship Justice of Toren, and the reasons for the change from one status to the other are an important part of the plot of the books.

Breq is a fascinating character because she isn't technically Radchai, but she is intimately familiar with its culture, customs, and laws, making her an almost invisible observer. She can see the flaws in Radchai society when those around her do not, and as a result, she is able to get to the heart of problems that others around her would not even begin to be able to unravel. Breq is also both not human, and placed in a position of substantial authority with limited power to back it up. She spends much of the books having to navigate a dangrous political landscape that is fraught with peril at every turn. The way that Breq handles the issues, coupled with her strong sense of justice and fairness, makes her a compelling character.

Karen Memery, who is found in Karen Memory: Karen Memery is the protagonist of the book Karen Memory, set in a fictional town in the Pacific northwest during the last half of a fictional steampunk-influenced nineteenth century. She is also a "seamstress", which is a euphemism used on the frontier for a prostitute, with "sewing" used as a euphemism for their work. Karen is, however, actually a seamstress (in addition to her primary income generating profession), and makes clothing for herself and others. She is a big girl, described as tall, with big shoulders, and grew up learning how to raise horses from her father. Despite such clear indicators of being a tomboyish character, she remains very feminine, and despite being relatively poorly educated, she is smart and loves books. Like most truly well-written characters, she is a multifacted collection of seeming contradictions, just as most actual people are. Karen is loyal, brave, often clever, and ultimately finds herself drawn into an investigation that uncovers a plot against the fabric of the United States itself. Plus, she fights using a steam-powered sewing machine.

Tenar, who is found in The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu: For most of the first half of the The Tombs of Atuan, Tenar is positioned to be the villain of the story. Taken from her parents as an infant and raised as the current incarnation of the high priestess of the Nameless Ones, Tenar is a central figure around whom life revolves on the island of Atuan in an isolated complex of temples dedicated to the powers worshiped by the denizens of the Kargad Lands. Though the Nameless Ones were once the prime objects of veneration among the Kargish people, the Godkings have encroached upon their faith and taken prime position in the hearts of the populace. The Nameless Ones are powerful, but they are inhuman and malign, disembodied spirits confined to a dark underground labyrinth.

Tenar grows up in this environment, priestess of a malevolent force, despised by those in power at the Godking's temple, spending hours alone in the dark memorizing the subterranean passageways. So when Sparrowhawk arrives to try to steal from the ancient vaults of her masters, she has led almost her entire life being prepared to become his adversary. And for a time, she is. What makes Tenar, also known by her true name of Arha, such an interesting character is that she changed and grows, transforming from the nameless priestess of dark powers into someone who has her own hopes and dreams away from the dark places of the world, evolving from the villain in the story to the heroine. In her story, she goes from being Tenar, a literal tool of terrible forces who seek to use her for their own purposes, to Arha, a person in her own right fully in control of her own destiny. That is a heroine worth reading.

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  1. I'm not familiar with these heroines but they do sound pretty badass! :D
    Here's my hop:
    I'm a new follower via bloglovin!

    1. @procrastinator135: I have found that my reading is often out of step with that of many other book bloggers. My choice of heroines to highlight might be an example of this in action. I highly recommend all of the books mentioned in this post to anyone interested in fantasy or science fiction.