“I love you because you never tried to smooth me out.”
“No,” said Isaac. “I sharpened you.” (p. 168)
- The detective queen is back!
- Shulamit of Perach and her partners in
crimeeverything awesome, Aviva, Rivka, and Isaac, are as dedicated as ever to truth and justice.
- Shula’s first task: to find out which of two jewelers is lying about the origins of their mysteriously identical – and ingenious – necklace clasps.
- Just kidding, the first task is to keep Shula’s baby, Princess Naomi, from being woken by the jewelers’ argument. Priorities, people!
- Her second (third?) task: to find out who stole Esther of the Singing Hands’s violin, and to get it back.
- The pool of suspects is limited.
- Very limited.
- Slight problem, though: several the suspects are extremely suspicious. Was it the wandering instrument-seller Tzuriel, whose compliments to Esther rouse the jealousy of her boyfriend, Eli? Older, diva violinist Liora, who dismisses claims that she and Esther are rivals? Liora’s patron, the slimy Marquis?
- And what’s up with street boy Micah? He could not possibly have stolen the violin, and yet—
- Not-so-slight problem: illegal magic.
- Illegal for a very good reason.
- I particularly admire Glassman’s handling of public discourse on women and female relationships, and of anger; of her depiction of loving relationships and words on healing after escaping unloving relationships.
“Your anger is justified, every bit of it,” Isaac reassured her. “Now, if you could redirect it for now, and save it up until tomorrow morning, you’ll be able to use it to our advantage.”
“You hear that?” Aviva, who had come floating in with the infant princess asleep in a wrap after the commotion was over, commented to Shulamit within earshot. “Fletching. He doesn’t take away Rivka’s arrows; he just helps her aim.” (p. 105)
AAAAAAND even cooler yet,
And I haven’t even mentioned the two bonus short stories at the end of the novel proper.
Short story #1: Rivka in Port Saltspray
- Rivka and Dragon (Horse) in the days before they met Shulamit. (Pre-The Second Mango.)
- Rivka discovers certain disadvantages to being a sword for hire.
- May I say how nice it is to have a story that directly states how disgusting it is that women are used as trophies. This isn’t romance, it’s rape.
- Well. Happily, it isn’t. Rivka to the rescue!
- <3 Rivka.
- Rivka is good with a sword, and with other weapons (and unarmed, come to that) – and part of being as good as she is springs from her intentional and close observation of future oppenents. In other words, being tall and muscular isn’t Rivka’s default setting; her brain is fully engaged; she calculates; she is a warrior. Not a thug. (This sort of intelligent approach to combat – carefully assessing opponents and devising appropriate strategies – is so. important.)
- Music! Music and rhythm and how they aid physical exertion.
- Non-tragic ace/aro character! Add this story as a boost to the (lamentably) short lists of published stories with these characters.
- And possibly the very best way of overcoming a language barrier that I have ever seen, in fiction or in life. Just brilliant.
Short story #2: Aviva and the Aliens
- So I don’t read many stories with aliens, but I suspect that this is semi-typical of the genre, in that invading aliens with terrible weapons are bested by cunning humans. (Go Aviva!)
- Why this stands out is the cultural specificity. (And, consequently, the humour.)
“We have come a long way,” said the commander. “Our world is five thousand kadrooms from yours.”
“I don’t know what that means,” said Aviva.
“Our sun is nothing but one of the stars in the sky to you,” explained the subordinate. “As yours is to us.”
“If you’re foreigners, then maybe you’re unfamiliar with our customs,” said Aviva. “We don’t steal people our of their homes, and we don’t steal their homes, either!”
“Our spaceship has been traveling for seven bayzoms,” said the commander grandiosely, “and our food replicators are worthless!”
“I don’t know what a bayzom is, either,” said Aviva. “Are you sure those [translation] boxes are working?”
“It means we’re sick of eating flavorless protein coagulants!” shouted the commander. (p. 215)