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The Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale-Bright…
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The Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale-Bright Stories

by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

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Showing 4 of 4
Interesting take on Chinese mythology. I'm rather ignorant on that topic so I enjoyed reading about it.
I read some wikipedia articles on the characters that appear in these stories, and I saw that Sriduangkaew takes quite a liberty with some of the interpretations of them, but in her favor it works. Her approach makes them much more approachable and modern.
This collection consist of 3 stories that kinda set the stage for the Scale-Bright novella, excerpt of which is also included into this book. The writing is very much stylized and ornamented, it sometimes takes away from the immersion into the story and characters.I wasn't a big fan of it. It kinda reminds me of N. K. Jemisin in that sense.
To me this feels like fantasy written by a woman for women. Other than having majority of female characters, this book deals with questions of lesbian love, female identity in a male dominated world of old China as well as male dominated mythological heavens of the same, as well as lesbian marriage.
It's quite unique I'll give it that.
You got me Benjanun. I'm interested enough to read your novella. See you in the next year.
( )
  Jaskier | Dec 1, 2015 |
A beautiful set of stories

A lovely linked set of stories based on Chinese mythology, which I wish I saw more often. The relationship between Houyi and Cheng'e is well-drawn, and I appreciated the fact that Xihe was apparently asexual - something else I wish I saw more often.

My only gripe is that the second story in particular could have done with another pass by an editor; some of the spelling and spacing were a little off. ( )
  oscillate_wildly | May 16, 2015 |
Gender-swapped Chinese folktales, in prose so exquisitely beautiful I could cry. I wish I could write like Sriduangkaew: and that is not something you will often hear me say. The story collection is free for download. Please go read it.

SAMPLE PARAGRAPH

The ghost animals have neither voices nor words of their own. A few eels and frogs can be coaxed to echo Chang'e, and that suits her purposes. The trouble lies in luring them. They do not behave much like their living counterparts, neither eating nor mating; owls and starlings sometimes swim languidly in the lakes, and twice she's seen carps up in the branches of a stone cypress. She's tried to tempt them with cakes, fruits, wine, dumplings. None avails. Tatters of fabric and melted candle wax do even less.

***
This review originally appeared on my blog, This Space Intentionally Left Blank.. ( )
  emepps | Jan 23, 2015 |
(Note – at the time I’m writing the book is free on Kindle)

This collection contains three stories retelling Chinese mythology. In retrospect, it’s probably not a good idea to read something based on Chinese mythology when you know absolutely nothing about Chinese mythology. So, that’s quite possibly behind why this book didn’t do much for me. Ultimately, it was probably worth reading (at least the last two stories), just not reading again.

However, if you like either Chinese mythology or lesbians, this is the book for you!

Given that this is a short story collection, I think it’s best to talk about the individual stories.

1.”The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate”

Summary: The story of Xihe, the mother of suns, when she was young and the world was new: how she met her husband, lost herself, and found it again.

I found this to be the weakest story. Xihe came off as rather cold in places, and I found the events of the story very confusing. Again, this may be because I know absolutely nothing about Chinese mythology.

“Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon”

Summary: Houyi rose in heaven, bow and arrow in hand: the hunt was her joy, the slaying of demons her delight. But most delightful was a serving girl called Chang’e.

I understood this story better. After Houyi, an archer goddess, shoots down nine of the ten suns, she faces the repercussions of a life of mortality, all the while accompanied by Chang’e, her wife, and the story of how they meet and marry is intertwined with the main story arch. I liked both Houyi and Chang’e much more than Xihe.

“Chang’e Dashes from the Moon”

Summary: Chang’e has been a prisoner on the moon while the world turns and cities rise. For centuries Houyi has looked for a way to free her wife, and now she has found it in a distant grand-niece: a young mortal woman named Julienne.

This story was almost a direct continuation from the last, and I think it’s probably the strongest of the three.

This book’s great if you’re looking for a more diverse read – all the characters are Chinese and about two thirds of the major characters are lesbians. It’s also well written and fairly interesting, but you may want to spend some time on Wikipedia before diving into it.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Dec 1, 2014 |
Showing 4 of 4
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