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Green    by Jay Lake order for
by Jay Lake
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

From the author of SF stories Escapement and Mainspring now comes something totally different. Green is clearly a novel that Jay Lake has put a lot of heart and soul into, with carefully chosen words, along with a unique story. The first in a trilogy, Green will be a welcome read to those who've ever felt they didn't belong and will be an eye-opener for those who've never experienced such a situation.

Green is sold by her father at a very young age, ejected from the simple world she has known and forced into a form of servitude and training. While she doesn't know what she is being trained for at first, it is grueling and abusive, forcing her to lock away the simple memories of her father and home for her own protection. Her training ranges from cooking and the making of clothes, to the martial arts. She soon knows she has few friends in this harsh world. Eventually she will be sold from the Pomegranate Court to become a concubine to some man she's never met, under the orders of the Duke.

Named Emerald at the end of her training and the arrival of her monthly courses, she proclaims herself Green, killing the mistress who beat her for years, and escaping the confines of the court, leaving the town of Copper Downs, and fleeing back to her home, hoping for love, respect, and a place to belong. There she finds a father who doesn't remember, and the ox Endurance her symbol of survival is now a withered, dying animal. Fate takes her back to Copper Downs. Now a trained assassin, Green becomes wrapped up in political intrigue, becoming a formidable adversary to anyone stepping in her path.

This is a fantasy world with an oriental flavor that has gods and goddesses who are real and live alongside humans, but at the same time are not infallible. Lake also introduces unusual creatures who live among his peoples and crosses the bestiality line much as he did in Mainspring. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but Lake should be applauded for featuring a character who has never belonged anywhere.

Green is a lyrical read that forces the reader to take their time. The result for those who persist is a magical tale that is well worth the read from cover to cover.

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