The Winged Histories

Sofia Samatar has some of the most beautiful writing I have read in years. The words in this story feel like music more than prose.  There is a rhythm to them, description of people and places resounding like deep notes.  I won’t lie to you, THE WINGED HISTORIES isn’t the kind of book you dive into expecting high action ad massive battles.  No, it’s a far more intimate secondary world that has scatterings of fantasy elements, but the main focus is on the rich cultural and historical connections across different lands joined as one.  Then there are the women of this story and it is around their wonderful depictions that this novel turns.

Tav refuses to be bound to her cultural norms of gender or love. She goes off to war, returns a wounded veteran, falls in love with a woman unapologetically and then goes off to fight another revolution. She’s just a character full of fire and determination. Even her language when speaking is crackling with that kind of intensity.  It’s what makes the tragedy at the heart of this story so difficult to handle because someone like Tav should win. Someone like Tav should come out ahead and Samatar absolutely rips your heart out by not giving that to you.

Siski and her doomed love is the stuff of Shakespeare. It is so sad to watch it fall apart and yet Samatar manages to make it look beautiful the entire time.  There was an elegance to the way the tragedy was presented. Society and fate ultimately trapped her to an end that it seemed she didn’t really want to find a way to escape from anyway. Just wait till you see how her story ends.  It’s fitting and you still want to cry regardless.

You have to appreciate prose to read this book.  You need to be in the mood for long, beautiful sentences. Be ready to relish the intricate details of food customs and dinner settings. You’ll want to bury your face in its fabrics.  Each and every romance will leave its imprint on you long after you read it. Some books are like pizza, you love every bite but it’s really not a delicacy. THE WINGED HISTORIES is a four hundred dollar, three course meal with some wine thrown in. If you’re like me, you only do those every blue moon and you have to savor every moment of it.

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