Thank you NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: The Surun’ nomads do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But aged Uiziya must find her aunt in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.
Among the Khana in the springflower city of Iyar, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter, as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother.
As his past catches up, the nameless man must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya―while Uiziya must discover how to challenge the evil Ruler of Iyar, and to weave from deaths that matter. (AMAZON)
Sometimes the actions in a story lack the life necessary to charm the reader, no matter how interesting they may seem. And sometimes the action begins so prematurely and so suddenly that it leaves the reader completely lost at sea from the start.
Maybe it's because this seems to be the second book in this universe and I have not read the first, but the author seemed to think that I was supposed to know what they were talking about from the get-go. No explanation was given for events, people or terms and I found myself grappling for a good deal of this short volume so that I could understand the references being presented. By the time I had a somewhat weak grasp on things, I was done reading. The Four Profound Weaves is quite short in length, but context nonetheless lacked even though there was plenty of room for including it.
This story is told from twin POVs: Uiziya e Lali and the nameless man's (who later gives himself the title of “nen-sasair”). Both have a reason for leaving the settlement they currently inhabit, and go on their “epic adventure” together for support as well as need. It was often difficult to tell one POV from the other, because neither of these two characters stand out in tone. Had it not been for the fact that their sections are titled with their names, I would have had no trouble believing it was the same one leading the narrative for most of this book. Only near the end, when the two arrive at the court of the Ruler of Iyar, do they become slightly more distinguishable—and that's only because their paths are forced apart.
The idea of how those who are weavers use their magic, however, was inventive. Uiziya e Lali's creation of the carpet of death, especially, was absolutely incredible. That was the one instance when I felt the time was truly taken to flesh out this story and make us connect with the somber atmosphere of the scene while she discovered and developed her skill—albeit rather fast despite the fact that she'd never done it before. And the myth of what comes to pass when the carpets of sand, air, song and death come together was intriguing even if it didn't develop into much other than finally seeing a vision of the goddess Bird.
I appreciated and respected the representation of the characters' need and ability to change their gender when the time and moment arrived for them. For that alone, the book is worth a try—and it will speak to many. But, overall it was weak in its ability to dazzle or even entertain the majority of the time.