Post number fifty-nine is for Ellen Jensen Abbott's Watersmeet, my final required reading assignment for my Fantasy Lit course. Hurray! All three books for tomorrow's class dealt with prejudice of some sort, but this book was much more overt about it than Dust City (the third book, Black and White, had me ridiculously angry within the first few chapters, so I didn't finish it; I know what happens and that was enough for me!).
Spoilery thoughts follow.
The main character in this book is a girl named Abisina, who is the daughter of the village healer. She's also an outcast; people don't talk to her, she's not allowed to look them in the eye, and when they *do* speak to her, it's usually to throw insults in her direction. The reason for her being an outcast is because she was born with dark skin and hair, which is very far away from the ideal person (blond hair, blue eyes; no surprise there!). A new leader has taken over the land, named Charach, and he comes to their festival of penance, which is when all hell breaks loose. Charach decides that the village needs to do away with all their outcasts, so Abisina ends up fleeing for her life. Her mother isn't so lucky; she's killed, but not before telling Abisina a bit about her father. Abisina's father is from a place called Watersmeet, and Abisina looks just like him.
So Abisina decides to set out to find Watersmeet and her father. The first part of the book details her search; she meets a couple of dwarves, who saved her, and she has to fight against her own prejudices when it comes to them. They, likewise, have to fight against their own regarding humans, who have terrorized them and killed their friends and loved ones. It's an interesting dynamic; Abisina has been looked down on and spit on her entire life, and yet she cannot help but do the same to others. Her mother always told her she wasn't a demon and that she was beautiful, and Abisina sort of believed her, and yet she couldn't shake the ideal of beauty that her neighbors believed in.
Anyway, the prejudice is only part of this book, but I don't want to spoil things. One thing that I will say is that this book read extremely fast; I had a hard time putting it down, and in fact not only went well over my lunch break finishing it today, but also stayed up way to late last night because I just couldn't stop reading. I especially loved reading about Abisina and Haret's journey across the world to get to Watersmeet, and I loved seeing Watersmeet once they'd arrived. The characters all seemed very real to me, and I found myself very interested in how things would end.
One bigger spoiler: I totally saw the revelation about Abisina's father coming. It wasn't very shocking to me, as there were plenty of hints that led up to it. But that's my only little quibble, that and the semi-ambiguous ending. There is a sequel (this is apparently the first of a trilogy; big shocker there), but it got absolutely pounded in the reviews I've read, which makes me sad, since I liked this one so much. I'll probably read it anyway, but maybe I'll wait until all three volumes are released so I can go right from the second to the third; I'm not a very patient reader anyway. :)