Even as we reel from yesterday's Hugo nominees and impatiently await tonight's Clarke nominees, Strange Horizons has published my review of Sofia Samatar's second novel The Winged Histories. I wrote about Samatar's first novel, A Stranger in Olondria, a few years ago, and was blown away by the beauty of its language, the complexity of its worldbuilding, and the nuanced view it took of the epic fantasy genre.
The Winged Histories, which is a sort of companion volume to A Stranger in Olondria, is very different from it, though no less excellent. It is, in some ways, a more conventional novel, focusing on the main events of a civil war within a fantasy empire, where Stranger took place on the fringes of that war and featured a protagonist who just wanted to get away from it. But like Stranger, Histories is an examination of its genre, of storytelling, and of the very project of imposing narrative on one's life. It touches on issues like colonialism, empire, race, and gender, and features four wonderful heroines, each very different from the others, and all immediately fascinating and lovable. Together and separately, The Winged Histories and A Stranger in Olondria are a major work of modern fantasy, one that deserves to be widely read and discussed.