Monday, March 7, 2011
Huntress by Malinda Lo
I read Ash when it first came out, and it was fine but I wasn't blown away or anything. It was interesting. It was loosely a Cinderella story, but not completely. Malinda Lo's worlds are full of Chinese influences and draw on the I Ching, The Book of Changes, which is a classic Chinese text.
Most of Huntress is Kaede, Taisin, Con and their soldiers making their way to the Xi kingdom. It is a very long journey. Various things happen along the way, but mostly it's them traveling and being tired and cold and hungry and confused. The reason that we have so much traveling is that it allows Kaede and Taisin's relationship to build. Taisin has a vision of a particular part of their journey. She sees Kaede leaving, and Taisin is experiencing sorrow and love. Now she's all confused, because she's never even spoken to Kaede but it seems she's destine to love her. On top of this, Taisin is in training to be a sage, and sages take vows of celibacy. Taisin is determined not to fall in love with Kaede, and tries to speak to her as little as possible. Of course, Kaede is confused, since she doesn't know the whole vision, but also begins to find herself attracted to Taisin.
The question I was asking was, "If Taisin had never had the vision, would she have fallen in love with Kaede?" Was Taisin really destined to fall in love with Kaede, so she didn't have a choice? Did she fall in love with Kaede because she was trying so hard not to and the thought was in her head? I found that very interesting.
Of course, the two girls do fall in love during the course of the journey, and Taisin's vision comes true. She has to watch Kaede go to battle on her own. Ready? I'm going to give away what Taisin chooses to do, so stop reading if you don't want it ruined. Ready?
Taisin chooses to be a sage. Even though she loves Kaede, she is not willing to give up what she's wanted her whole life. I appreciated that choice. With all those supernatural romances, we see people giving up everything, everything, for another person. Love conquers all. And you know what? Sometimes love doesn't conquer all. Sometimes you can love someone but it just can't work because you want different things and it just doesn't match up and no amount of compromising is going to fix it. It was a very real, very mature, and very heartbreaking decision and I'm glad that Lo did it.
I felt the end was kind of rushed. After they've done all the journeying and get to the Xi kingdom, the Queen sends them on another journey, and they do it, but it doesn't fix anything. And now the Queen is dying and Kaede has to go get unicorn blood, another long journey. Except that one takes like four pages. The pacing of the rest of the books was rather slow, so it felt odd at the end.
Overall I enjoyed it. It kind of makes me want to read Ash again now. Also, I think the cover is quite striking, and girl on it actually appears to be Asian. Well done. Of course, you can't see all her face, but, you know. Baby steps.
Huntress will be available April 5th.