FRIENDS!! YOU GUYS! Jacqueline Carey has a new stand-alone fantasy out, titled Starless, which was released this past Tuesday. Starless is part of #FearlessWomen, Tor Books’ celebration of sci-fi/fantasy books by women. How much more awesome do you want it? More? Ok, then. Ask and ye shall receive.
First of all, I get to be part of a blog tour for this book, which is rad. Readers get to participate in a giveaway for a Starless swag bag for playing, which one lucky person will get to snag! The swag bag will include: a Starless quote postcard, hawk feather, #FearlessWomen sticker, #FearlessWomen pen, and star confetti! Just leave me a comment below, and the random.org gods will decide who wins. I’ll leave the giveaway open until June 18, 2018.
Don’t forget to check out the other awesome blogs that participated in this blog tour as well:
Monday, June 11 Fantasy Cafe
Tuesday, June 12 Utopia State of Mind
Tuesday, June 12 If the book will be too difficult
Wednesday, June 13 Bibliophibian
Thursday, June 14 Between Dreams and Reality
In the world of STARLESS the gods have been cast down to earth by Zar the Sun for their rebellion. Born during a solar eclipse, Khai has trained his whole life in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect to prepare him to serve as protector of the princess Zariya. But when the dark god Miasmus rises Khai and Zariya join an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.
In addition to Carey’s standard incandescent prose, rich world-building, and complex characters, which are just expected for any of her works, Starless has a wonderful focus on gender norms and self-identity. I think these issues are highly relevant, charged topics in today’s society, and couching them in a fantasy setting allows a certain distance from which readers can perhaps more comfortably analyze them.
I loved the structure of the book as well. While I love a good series as much as the next person, sometimes I just want one book that tells one story and that doesn’t leave on a cliffhanger or with a never-ending story arc that just goes on ad infinitum. That Starless is a stand-alone novel is a huge plus in my opinion. I also loved that it was set up in three main parts, which should also appeal to those of us who love a good trilogy as well. Each section has its own main theme and feels, to me, almost like its own separate novel. The first section focuses on Khai and his training. The middle section sees Khai leave the desert and go to the palace, meeting Zariya for the first time. It is also where gender identity comes more into focus, as well as themes of friendship and companionship. The final section continues the discussion of companionship while traveling the world with the prophecy-hunters, seeing various peoples and places. I actually liked this part the best because it reminded me of travel writing and travel narratives I’ve read, though I don’t think the deep bonds between the characters was quite as well detailed here.
Additionally, and I have NO idea if this was intentional on Carey’s part or not, but this book felt like a quasi-Middle Eastern setting, which I really appreciated. It ties in to my earlier comment about how sci-fi/fantasy is ideal for discussing social issues. Placing the novel in a setting reminiscent of the Middle East might create a situation that causes readers to become more empathetic to real life events. And isn’t gaining empathy and learning more about the human condition really what good literature is all about?
I think Jacqueline Carey has written just about a perfect fantasy novel for our time. I have loved her writing since Kushiel’s Dart, and Starless is no disappointment. The vivid landscapes, detailed world, and rich characters combine to immerse me in a completely new world, something I intensely crave when reading fantasy. You will not be sorry if you just run out and buy it forthwith!
Read an excerpt of Chapter Three below.Read More »