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A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
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A Stranger in Olondria

by Sofia Samatar

Other authors: Keith Miller (Map)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Olondria (1)

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4421536,007 (3.69)34

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» See also 34 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
The writing is lush and delectable. But even the best writing can't disguise the fact that nothing happens, nor the fact that the main character is something of a privileged asshole. ( )
1 vote miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
I just could not have enjoyed this book more. I don't know when I've been so swept up in another world since LOTR. Lush description combines with intriguing action to build characters and conflicts I've never envisioned before, as well as an entire economy built on commerce, magic, and READING--not just on love of books and stories, but on the social, spiritual, and political importance of the written language. Sofia Samatar has made her mark in my heart. ( )
1 vote deeEhmm | Apr 3, 2019 |
This book is going under didn't finish. I adored the writing style but didn't find the book itself--at least the early portions--to be exciting. I'm going to shelve it for now and possibly return to it in a few months.
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
It is literally paining me to give Sofia Samatar a three star rating, but I must. There is a lot to love about this book. The prose and writing are insanely good, like so good I just sat there and read whole passages aloud to hear them read. It's Dickensian, down to the way Samatar describes the spice markets like the markets in A Christmas Carol. And Samatar is clearly drawing on some of the historical predecessors of classical literature. This is not your standard fantasy, heavy worldbuilding book.

Okay, so now that I've got that said, I am sorry to say that this book just didn't work for me. I felt no interest in the main character, and instead felt more sympathy for the poor people around him, like his two sadly, poorly treated mothers and his brother. But as soon as we leave them, I realized we were going to have to deal with a ghost girl narrative. This character, who becomes the crux of the book, is introduced ONCE before dying and apparently deciding to haunt Jevick. And what ensues is troublesome - Jevick is whisked away to be worshipped by a strange cult for his haunted-ness.

I was bothered by the plight of women in this book. I love Samatar's work, I've read many of her short stories. But I think maybe Samatar was trying to pull off a bit of satire by making each woman in some way damaged, a slave, a servant, a prostitute. A Stranger in Olondria reads like Hugo, Thomas Mann, and Proust, but in the end this voice grated on me too much to be able to enjoy the story. It is a shame, because I dearly wanted to like this book.

I think that A Stranger in Olondria does a great deal for the genre, but I'm just not sure its entirely successful. It is worth reading for the place it will have in the genre, I am sure. And I for one will be picking up any future work by Samatar. ( )
2 vote hlwalrath | Aug 21, 2018 |
Densely written, with the major action concentrated in the central chapters. ( )
  quondame | Dec 2, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sofia Samatarprimary authorall editionscalculated
Miller, KeithMapsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jennings, KathleenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As I was a stranger in Olondria, I knew nothing of the splendor of its coasts, nor of Bain, the Harbor City, whose lights and colors spill into the ocean like a cataract of roses.
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Jevick, the pepper merchant's son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick's life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria's Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl. In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire's two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country shimmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that seductive necromancy, reading.… (more)

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Small Beer Press

2 editions of this book were published by Small Beer Press.

Editions: 1931520763, 1618730622

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