Millions of square miles of it; numberless wind-whipped tsunamis of grass, a thousand sun-lulled caribbeans of grass, a hundred rippling oceans, every ripple a gleam of scarlet of amber, emerald or turquoise, multicolored as rainbows, the colors shivering over the prairies in stripes and blotches, the grass – some high, some low, some feathered, some straight – making their own geography as they grow.
This was an impulse purchase, I’ve read one or two others by Tepper and although I enjoyed them I do think that she has a tendency to be a little preachy in her books. However if the story is good enough I’m willing to overlook that, and I’d have to say that I really enjoyed this novel. Set at some point far in the future when humankind has colonised many different worlds, the majority of this book takes place on the planet Grass, among the insular bon as the aristocrats are called.
But elsewhere in the universe a plague is threatening, and so Sanctity, the ruling religion send a diplomat to Grass in order to discover if it really is as free from plague as believed, and if so, why. The diplomat is chosen because he and his family are from the “horsey set” and although very little is known about the culture and society on Grass, it is known that the bon are almost fanatical in their devotion to hunting. When Rigo and his wife Marjorie arrive on Grass they discover that although the records say fox hunting, in reality what the bon do bares only the slightest resemblance to that Terren practice, as the mounts, hounds and foxen of Grass are not at all like those on earth.
Enough of the plot recap. I really liked the plot and characters of this book. And wanted to read on and find out what would happen. But I did think that Tepper brought a little to much baggage with her. In a way her message is an anti-pacifism one. The central thrust of the novel is that sometimes action that may be perceived of as evil must be taken, in order to prevent greater evil. The lesser of two evils, if you like. A message I’d probably agree with in principle, but in practice how can you tell what will result in greater, or lesser, evil. And she also brings in a bit of anti-organised religion preachiness. Which would be fine if it fit into the novel the way her anti-pacifism argument does, but I don’t think it was needed, and merely served to add an extraneous conspiracy to the story.
Overall I liked it, it has some lovely pieces of writing and Tepper does create an interesting world, but I couldn’t recommend it whole heartedly.