This was such a satisfying read! It was a perfect blend of fantasy and sci-fi, and packed a lot of plot into a relatively short book. This reminded me what reading a good book could be like and why I do love to read after struggling through my last pick.
The book (which I think is being sold as a novella, but it’s 198 pages, so a long novella) uses alternating viewpoint chapters to good effect. Lynesse Fourth Daughter is a princess in a medieval fantasy type setting. Her family looks down on her as childish and as an embarrassment, but when she hears about a demon ravaging the lands across the river, she decides to go seek help from the sorcerer her ancestors swore a pact with generations ago. Nyr Illim Tevitch is that sorcerer, but he’s actually an anthropologist second class from Earth’s Explorer Corps who’s been stuck on the planet for hundreds of years. He was sent to watch the inhabitants on this backwards world and wasn’t supposed to interfere, but he did help Lynesse’s ancestor and decides to help her as well.
The comparison between their opposing viewpoints is very well done, and leads to a good look at cultural gulfs and the issues of translation. All of the characters were fully formed, and the world also felt solid and like there was more room for exploration. If Tchaikovsky decided to write more in this universe, I’d be thrilled. It reminded me of Ursula K. LeGuin in the best way, especially her short story “Semley’s Necklace,” which I love. As it stands, it’s a great book/novella and I fully enjoyed it.
Warnings for: body horror, violence