Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ann Leckie's 'Raven Tower' Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Novel

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ann Leckie's 'Raven Tower' Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Novel

Article excerpt

That St. Louis writer Ann Leckie has an ear for language, an eye for character and a gift for creating new worlds and cultures is not a surprise: Her first science fiction novel, "Ancillary Justice," popped to the top of the charts when it was published in 2013, winning the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clark and other prestigious awards. It was followed by two other volumes in that trilogy, "Ancillary Sword" (2014) and "Ancillary Mercy" (2015), along with another volume using those novels' invented universe, "Provenance" (2017).

Now Leckie is back with her first fantasy. "The Raven Tower" deals with gods and humans, with how they interact and, occasionally, how they betray one another. Gods receive power from human prayers and offerings; in return, a small god may do small favors, while a large god may protect a city from fire and invasion. No offering is more powerful than a human sacrifice, particularly a willing one.

Gods can change the world with their words and provide vivid examples of the importance of both thinking before speaking and phrasing one's words in a carefully parsed manner.

"Stories can be risky for someone like me," says the book's narrator, an ancient god called the Strength and Patience of the Hill, who inhabits a large black rock. It is deliberative and careful and once learned the hard way about the power of words.

"What I say must be true, or it will be made true, and if it cannot be made true -- if I don't have the power, or if what I have said is an impossibility -- then I will pay the price. ... It's safer for me to speak of what I know. Or to speak only in the safest of generalities. Or else to say plainly at the beginning, 'Here is a story I have heard,' placing the burden of truth or not on the teller whose words I am merely accurately reporting."

Here is a story it has heard: It concerns the gods and people of a pair of twin cities called Vastai and Ard Vusktia. …

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