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October 11th, 2019

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Cloud and Ashes, by Greer Gilman

Second paragraph of third chapter of third section:
In the green dark of another morning, Annot rose. She laid aside her mantle and her gown of black for petticoats of green, May mourning; mirrorless, she combed her leaf-red hair, and as she braided it all down her back, she sang beneath her breath. “ ... and a thought come in her head to run in the wood ... ” She left my lord's ring and my lady's baubles—though she traced the earrings with a finger, half-regretfully: her chains became her well. She left her needle in her work, too nearly done: the one unfinished sleeve. “ ... to pull flowers to flower her hat ... ” A smock to be bedded in, a shroud. Too fine for the greenwood, to sully and snag. But she wore her old ring that had been her grandam's, her namesake: that she kept.
Lots of people loved Cloud and Ashes; I didn't. Its a dense fairy tale set in northern England, with lots of sex (not at all titillating) and magic (which may or may not work). Maybe it will reward readers who put in the effort to understand who the characters are and what is going on. I read for relaxation and escapism, and this was too much like hard work for me. It won the Tiptree Award in 2006, along with the first two volumes of Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, which I enjoyed (one, two). You can get it here.

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