He woke before dawn and snuck away from the tents to watch the sun rise, both of them solitary - he and the sun.
–Kate Elliott - The law of becoming - 1994, 2014
The fourth novel of the Jaran
The closer I got to the end of this book the slower I found myself reading. I just didn’t want it to end. First of all it is the final published book in the Jaran series, and I didn’t want to leave that ‘verse. But also, the series itself isn’t finished, as Elliott explains on her blog, it may never be finished. I hope it will. I love and adore this series. And I can understand that knowing it is unfinished probably puts people off starting it, but the more people that read it the more likely it is that Elliott will return to this world and finish it. So I should be asking everyone to start reading the first book.
Even if the series was complete I would still urge you to read this series, it is just wonderful. And the further I read in the series the more wonderful it became.
The first book is very much a first contact novel, with a bit of wider politics thrown in, but it was all about Tess’ personal journey more than anything. But as the series progresses the story ‘verse has grown and grown. It is still Tess & Ilya’s journey, but it is also Charles’ story, and the story of all the jaran and the other people on the planet of Rhui, as well as the people throughout the human part of the galaxy. And we even get to learn a little more about the Chapalii empire, and the Chapalii themselves.
It is also a more critical look at the Jaran and their society. After all every society has it’s issues and problems. The Jaran are a warring people. They are conquerors who think nothing of burning a city to the ground. Why should any of them care about the dead khaja, after all, they are not jaran.
Ilya may be the hero, in a certain way, but he also the commanding general of an army and a people that have set out to rule the known world, stamping out any opposition in their way. People die because of his actions.
The Jaran also don’t really deal well with those outside the family unit. Orphans, for example, are very much outsiders in this world. Without your family you have very little support. And then there is the fact that a woman is expected to marry and produce daughters to further the clan. They may have power and authority, but they are also expected to conform to that strict role, there is very little leeway given to women in this regard.
So it is fascinating to meet characters who don’t want to follow that path. Who are jaran through and through but have a different focus to their lives, not that they always get to live their own lives of course, because the tribe, the clan is of utmost importance.
Elliott also addresses the problems about the Jaran marriage customs in this novel. If a woman has no right in who she marries, and she owes her husband certain rights ((I don’t think it is every stated outright, but I’m presuming those rights are conjugal)) then is that not rape? despite the Jaran’s supposed abhorrence of that act?
Almost as interesting as that is the question over whether sometimes culture and society create crimes because of how they structure the world. Especially in regards to the treatment of women. If someone grows up in a culture where a woman can be “spoils of war” then can he really be blamed for raping her? Can a man be a good man and also a rapist? Lots of thorny questions in this book.
There is so much great stuff in this whole series that I really cannot recommend them enough. Go pick them up. The story will sweep you away and the world building will have you utterly immersed in the ‘verse. You’ll love it. And if you don’t? well, I guess I’ll just have to be disappointed in you.