Skip to main content

Peaceweaver

Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse was not just one of my most anticipated reads of 2012, it was THE MOST anticipated read of 2012. It has been pretty much since the moment I finished reading The Coming of the Dragon (my review) last year. If you read that book you will want to read this one. If you read this book you will want to read that one. It doesn't matter which one you read first. They are companion novels that are really stand alone stories. They overlap at their ends but they are about two different journeys. And Peaceweaver was everything I was hoping it would be. (And really, look at the cover and tell me how could you not want to read this book.)

Hild is the favored niece of the King of Shylfings. She has been given the honor of serving the mead in the Hall to her uncle's men, a position she is hoping will allow her to influence the men toward a peaceful existence that has been all but abandoned since her aunt, the queen, was taken ill. Unfortunately the king is unduly influenced by others and the man with his ear is a war monger. Hild's dream is to slow the endless warring and the number of women among her people becoming widows. Then, in an act that surprises even her, she kills a man saving her young cousin's life. Her mother says Hild is far-minded, a gift that runs in her family. Her uncle claims she is possessed. In a bid to rid himself of her sight the king pledges Hild to the Geats who are looking for an end to a longstanding war. As a peaceweaver it is Hild's job to marry their king and work for peace between the two groups. Her uncle has other plans in mind. The journey to her new home is a trial Hild almost doesn't endure, but the choice she  must face when she arrives is even harder. Does she forsake her honor and what she knows to be right for the chance to return to her home?

Peaceweaver is historical fantasy at its best. Rebecca Barnhouse conveys the time and period of her story while weaving the mythology of the people who lived it through the plot beautifully. The details of food, clothing, etiquette, religion, class, warfare, and gender roles are depicted in vivid pictures without lengthy descriptions or explanations. The characters, even the most minor ones, become real people to the reader whose lives are important to the world as a whole.

Hild is who this story is all about though. Readers who have read The Coming of the Dragon will enjoy following her journey on the way to becoming the girl who turned out to be so important in the fate of Rune. New readers will enjoy learning where Hild's journey is taking her. All readers will enjoy the journey itself, and what it reveals of her and the world she inhabits. Hild can wield a sword well, but she doesn't try to be (nor want to be) a warrior. She uses the sword when she has no other choice and her considerable intelligence the rest of the time. In the beginning she doesn't always think completely through the consequences of her actions and she is quick to judge others and dismiss as inconsequential those she feels are beneath her.  As her circumstances continue to worsen and she is forced to overcome challenge after challenge these flaws in her character lessen, though not quickly and not entirely. Her journey makes her into the girl she needs to be to make the tough choices she has to make in the end. The decision she reaches does not come easily and is depicted realistically with all the hesitation and slightly selfish waverings any human would experience in a similar situation. It is that realism that makes her heroism so extraordinary.

Through Hild and the other women she comes in contact the reader is given a picture of what the role of women in these societies must have been like. They were not without influence, but their influence was determined by their ability to wield it well and the willingness of the men to be swayed by it. Gender roles, the imbalance of power that existed, and the unfairness of this was explored through Hild's story. When she questions what is happening to her and asks what the difference between being far minded and possessed is she gets this response from a female slave: "If a woman tells a man the gods favor him, she is far-minded. But let a woman do what the gods tell her without asking a man's permission first? Then she's possessed." This unfairness is brought into greater focus when one contemplates the idea of what a peaceweaver does. They are given to a man they don't know in order to establish a peace that often doesn't hold. While the concept of weaving peace is a beautiful one, the reality of it would have been harsh and, more often than not, tragic. Most especially tragic for the peaceweaver herself. However, Hild's story highlights that even when the circumstances that bind us are unfair and not of our choosing, we have a choices in the midst of them and those choices will show what kind of people we are.

As a fair warning I will say that there are people who might be annoyed by where the story ends (which is in the exact same spot as The Coming of the Dragon). I personally loved this aspect. This stage of Hild's journey is at an end in that moment and a new one is beginning, the same is true for Rune's story. We don't have to know for certain what would come next. If ever there was an end to a story to fuel the imagination this is it. And I like that. Though you will certainly not hear me complain if Barnhouse chooses continue Hild's and Rune's story with another book.

I read a copy of this book most joyously received from the publisher via NetGalley. Peaceweaver will be in stores Tuesday, March 27.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the

Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein

YA Book GIVEAWAY!!!

On Tuesday I posted my Top Ten Books Read so Far in 2013 and promised to highlight more of this year's favorites and offer them in giveaways. This is the YA giveaway. This is open to anyone who lives where Book Depository ships for free . Book Choices: TO ENTER: Leave a comment below saying which book looks most interesting to you and leave a way I can reach you if you are the winner. (email address or twitter handle-If you are using Twitter it would be helpful if you followed me, @brandymuses , in case I need to DM you.) Entries after Monday, July 1 8:00 PM EST are invalid. The winner will be drawn as close to 8 as possible.  Yes, I still do my giveaways the old fashioned way.