BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: No Man of Woman Born


Title: No Man of Woman Born: Rewoven Tales

Publisher: Acacia Moon Publishing

Author: Ana Mardoll

Pages: 180pp

Price: $9.99/$4.99

A humble fisher and weaver of nets. A cunning hedge-witch of unremarkable power. An orphan on a path of revenge. A secret daughter who is the heir to a long-prophesied destiny. A royal heir cursed by faeries. A young warrior determined to rid the land of an evil tyrant. A child with one heart-felt wish ....

In this collection of seven stories, Mardoll weaves tales of love, duty, vengeance, courage, betrayal, dragons, and destiny -- and each features a non-binary character in the role of heroic protagonist.

I love epic fantasy, but I just do not have the time to devote to multi-volume sagas. As such, I grabbed a copy of Mardoll's No Man of Woman Born when I spotted it on netgalley. And I'll be honest -- it was the fantasy and witch parts that initially attracted me; the fact that the protagonists were all non-binary was interesting, but of secondary importance.

That changed the further I got into the collection. Mardoll's tales are filled with rich, wonderfully-realized characters; some very young, some on the cusp of adulthood, some mature in years. Each character's non-binary-ness is inherent not only to them as characters, but is also a necessary element of the story. Consider Finndís in "Daughter of Kings": there is a prophecy that a daughter of King Njáll will pull the golden sword from the stone and unite the fracturing tribes. Unfortunately, the King has no daughters -- except Finndís, who is female, even if no one else sees her that way.* In "Early to Rise" (a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty), Claude has been cursed to sleep until she is awakened by true love's kiss. Claude, however, has girl days, boy days, and days when they are neither. This loophole -- uh, nope, sorry. No spoilers. 

No Man of Woman Born was a thought-provoking and enchanting introduction to a new writer and the worlds xie can create. I will definitely be reading more of xer work in the future. ... Um, it would be really cool if some of these characters got their own books; just sayin' ....

I highly recommend No Man of Woman Born to fans of epic fantasy; anyone looking for stories with non-traditional protagonists, especially non-binary/genderqueer heroes; and fans of Effie Calvin, KJ Charles, and Jordan L Hawk. 


* By the way, that's Finndís on the cover. :)   

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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