Set in the lush and dangerous world of Jay Lake's Green, Our Lady of the Islands is a vibrant, enchanting tale of political intrigue and divine mystery. Selected as one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2014.
"Our Lady, heal us...."
Sian Katte is a successful, middle-aged businesswoman in the tropical island nation of Alizar. Her life seems comfortable and well arranged...until a violent encounter one evening leaves her with an unwanted magical power. Arian des Chances is the wife of Alizar's ruler, with vast wealth and political influence. Yet for all her resources, she can only watch helplessly as her son draws nearer to death. When crisis thrusts these two women together, they learn some surprising truths: about themselves, their loved ones, and Alizar itself. Because beneath a seemingly calm facade, Alizar's people - and a dead god - are stirring....
Our Lady of the Islands was a real breath of fresh air. Two central protagonists, both female and both middle-aged and these two women wrestle with the common problems of many of us in the middle while engaged in an enthralling fantasy adventure. Sian Katte is a successful business woman with grown children and grandchildren; Arian is the wife of the Factor (leader of the Islands Nation, Alizar). Sian is thrust into a mission for the butchered god which leads her to cross paths with Arian. The two women not only must deal with political and religious factions that stand in the way of their goals, but also deal with all the same issues that most of us in the middle years grapple with:
When passion dies down, will friendship and respect sustain the marriage commitment?
Evolving relationships with adult children
Juggling professional and personal priorities
What do I want to do with the rest of my life? What is my purpose?
Evolving relationships with adult siblings and other family members
Unlike so many fantasy novels, this is not a coming of age story and there is little romantic angst or impetuous or petulant behavior. The emotional conflict in the book is primarily the reassessment of spiritual, emotional, physical, and professional issues that most middle-aged people have to tackle. What makes the book rock, is that these women are going through their mid-life crises in the middle of a world in turmoil and while on the run so there is truly never a dull moment.
The prose in Our Lady is fluid, dialog rings true, and all the characters, male and female, are well drawn and believable. Allyson Johnson provides a good performance as the narrator.
Jay Lake died of cancer while working on this book with Shannon Page. I read that Shannon Page is continuing the sequel with another collaborator. Our Lady of the Islands stands well enough on its own, but I enjoyed it so much that I am looking forward to more.
26 of 27 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Our Lady of the Islands again? Why?
I will listen to the book when the next book comes out. The store is not rushed and takes its time to unfold and develop.
Which character – as performed by Allyson Johnson – was your favorite?
Ms. Johnson has a wide range of character voices. Kids sound like kids, elders sound old and injured do sound hurt.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I appreciated two things in particular about this fantasy novel. First, the two main characters were middle-aged women. I cannot think of another fantasy or scifi novel where that is the case. I myself am a middle-aged woman but I believe many readers would enjoy the “turnabout” situations in the book, where what would normally be the “Hero” male characters are pretty helpless and it is the women who are truly courageous. My favorite example of this is when all the main male characters resort to violence only to find themselves helpless in a dungeon while the “helpless” women are out rescuing each other using non-violent solutions. This book definitely passes the Bechdel test!
The second thing I really liked about the book was that the main character was a healer, and much of the plot hinges on healing and forgiveness. There are battles and danger, but the strongest passages are those in which the characters are forced to accept their own need to give and receive forgiveness.
On the downside, the book was overlong and a bit on the simplistic side, as far as the plot and the setting.
[I listened to this as an audio book read by Allyson Johnson. She did a fair job with the accents, but I ended up listening at 1.5 speed to get through this long journey].
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Loved every minute of it. It was hard to put it down . Each character was very interesting .