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Book Review: The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg

Title: The Four Profound Weaves

Author: R.B. Lemberg

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Publication Date: Sept. 1, 2020

Genres: Epic Fantasy

Shelves: Transgender

Powerful, magical, lyrical, and beautifully original, The Four Profound Weaves is one of those books where you linger over each paragraph, admiring the flow of words almost as much as the flow of ideas. R.B. Lemberg weaves – quite literally – a tale of change that encompasses the transformation of bodies, families, and identities.

This is not a coming-of-age tale but one of facing-your-own-mortality, an epic fantasy featuring two elderly characters from different cultures, connected by their changes, their magic, and their families. Uiziya changed when she was young, becoming a woman in a culture that accepts and embraces her, which welcomes her as part of a community. Nen-sasair changed much later in life, becoming a man rejected by his culture and his lovers, an outcast who struggles to find his place. Both are seeking Benesret, exiled for weaving death, leading them to the Ruler of Iyar, a madman who seeks to end the ultimate change, death.

Gender permeates every page of this, from cultures to people to magic. We are introduced to a culture where gender is fluid, where men and women mix openly, where women weave magic but must give up both agency and magic in marriage; and another where gender is rigid and segregated, a world where men are isolated and veiled, where women live and love together, forbidden to sing or build.

Like gender, magic infuses every page of this as well, beginning with the mythology of Bird and Kimri (which I’m curious to know about) and ending with the magic of weaving. Flying carpets and ravenous diamondflies. Weaves of change and hope. The magic of death, of bones, of lives stolen and spirits captured. It’s a beautiful story, but a dark and sorrowful one as well, marked by pain, sacrifice, and love.

While I don’t re-read a lot of books, I’m looking forward to sitting down and immersing myself in the paperback of The Four Profound Weaves once it’s released. There’s such a depth of meaning to it all, I’m confident I’ll uncover a whole other reading.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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