The Four Profound Weaves, R. B. Lemberg – Book Review

Hello Humans!

July Judith here writing another review that I know probably won’t see the light of day until August/September because I did a lot of reading of review copies in the summer – oh well!

Today I’m reviewing an LGBTQ+ novella that I think is something very exciting and special – keep on reading to find out more!

4

Goodreads Summary:

Wind: To match one’s body with one’s heart
Sand: To take the bearer where they wish
Song: In praise of the goddess Bird
Bone: To move unheard in the night

The Surun’ do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But Uiziya now seeks her aunt Benesret in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.

Among the Khana, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother.

As the past catches up to the nameless man, he must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya, and Uiziya must discover how to challenge a tyrant, and weave from deaths that matter.

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

This is a wonderful novella that is set in the Birdverse – which isn’t something I had encountered before but a search through Goodreads means I have my work cut out for me to read more! Beware those who don’t want to have to add lots of things to their TBR!

I thought this was fantastic – it’s a delightful world, nuanced representation of trans characters and a gorgeous story all packed into one very neat package.

What I would say to those reading this, based on my own experience, is to give this the time and space that it needs. I first started reading this back at the start of 2020 when I thought I would knock an easy win off my TBR – I wasn’t enjoying it or understanding anything that was happening so I put it down. When I picked it up again in June of this year I just gave the story and the characters the space they needed to breathe, doing what I think you should always do with novellas and just letting the story take me, not worrying too much about understanding every little element of worldbuilding. So if you pick this up and find you’re struggling to get into it, take a breath and come back when you’re ready – I promise it’s worth it.

We don’t get many books that focus on older LGBTQ+ identities – and those that do exist tend to focus on the idea of a life wasted or a long-lost love. I appreciated that, while this book did acknowledge the pain of figuring things out later in life, it was also buoyed by the hope and the knowledge that old age is not the end of existence – it’s a different time for sure but making those changes to your life is still worth doing and living as your true self is powerful at any age. Where most LGBTQ+ stories tend to focus on young people coming out I thought this was a delightful additional narrative to consider.

I liked the world – as I say I’d never read anything in this universe before, but the setting and the magic and the cultures depicted were handled very well and in the short span of this book I absolutely got the sense of the wider world these characters inhabit. This is a small narrative in many ways but the scope is huge and it feels simultaneously intimate and epic-  which to me is the sign of a great novella. I love any magic involving death – bone magic, necromancy – it’s what I like to read. In this case, I liked the idea of these four weaves and the idea of weaving as something learned and taught and passed on – it’s a magic connected to reality which helps to ground the story.

Overall this book surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and how powerful my feelings were by the end of the story, it’s emotional for sure and also hopeful and beautiful and tragic and all other emotions that it should not be possible to pack into a small package like this. I’d recommend this to so many people but I’d definitely reiterate what I said above – give this the space it needs, let the story take you.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley – all opinions are my own.

The Four Profound Weaves publishes September 4th!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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