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Luckstones: Three Tales of Meviel by…

Luckstones: Three Tales of Meviel

by Madeleine Robins

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really enjoyed these three stories set in the high fantasy world of Meviel. The characters were likeable, the worldbuilding was done with a light but efficient touch, and the pace and plotting were perfect for short stories. My only complaint was the 30% of this edition is taken up with an ad and sample chapters for another book, when what I really wanted was another 30% of Meviel. The collection was crying out for something a little longer for readers to get their teeth into. ( )
  MinaKelly | Aug 29, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love Robins' novels about Sarah Tolerance, Fallen Women and Detective (beginning with "Point of Honour"), set in London in the 1800s, so I was hoping hard that I would similarly like these short stories set in the fantasy world of Meviel, a land where luck, as much as status and gender, is crucial to a person's place in that society. These short stories are about young women who break out of the stagnant mold society has cast for them, making their own luck while disregarding their status and reversing the gender restrictions that are suppressing them. Using only their wits and courage, these young women seize their own destinies.

In "A Wreath of Luck," a somewhat timid young girl whose ship has been captured by pirates learns courage, even fighting to try and rescue the member of the pirate crew who had helped her hide from the vain and capricious captain. In "Writ of Exception," two very different young women try to escape a socially advantageous marriage to each other that their parents have arranged for them, which marriage neither wants. In "Virtue and the Archangel," a silly socialite calls on a former disgraced classmate, now working as a fencing instructor, to retrieve her family's famous and irreplaceable luckstone that she managed to lose during an ill-advised one-night stand. ( )
  Storeetllr | Aug 14, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
by Madeleine Robins
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I was lucky enough to win this delightful little book of short stories in LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

I liked all three tales very much, and the world of Meviel. Perhaps my favourite was the second one, which is very empowering for women, and poses a lot of questions to think about (marriage for interest between two GIRLS, and how they end up making good of it), but as I also like pirate stories and women pirates, and "epoch" inquiries and sword-wielding fencing master girls, I loved the other two too.

Besides, they are short and I read then with gusto in a little over two hours (less than 70 pages).

Each of the stories could have made for a longer one, with more detail, but "the good, if brief, is twice as good".

There is also a little "subtext", specially in the third story, and a little bit but less in the other two, but nothing to be afraid of, anyone can read them. They are for teenagers as well as adults.

The tales are quite "cinematic" too, with a lot of action, and I liked to imagine the casting of the characters for a movie. ( )
  mrshudson | Jul 27, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Luckstones features three previously anthologized stories of smart young women's derring-do, all set in an interesting locale and featuring a subversive overturning of women's expected gender and sexuality roles. Plus, there's swashbuckling. In the city-state of Meviel, luckstones may afford you status, but pluckiness will net you independence (and maybe even romance).

Robins notes that Meviel is "a society where luck, status, and gender [are] mixed up in interesting ways" (Loc. 17). But, really, these stories are concerned with young women who make their own luck, disregard their status, and subvert their society's gender containment. By using their wits, the young women in the stories find ways to carve out their own places in a society that sees them as window dressing. Robins keeps her tone light, but she's serious about her point. She strikes the right balance between telling a good story and giving that story a resonance beyond its plot.

In "A Wreath of Luck," a "slight, spindly girl who preferred reading about adventure to undertaking it" (Loc. 23) is forced by circumstance into an adventure. She learns a painful lesson about love and loyalty in the process. Two young women whose parents have arranged their socially advantageous marriage use a legal technicality to forge their independence and develop a supportive friendship in "Writ of Exception": "[T]his marriage ... has given us dominion over each other, and taken that control from you. ... Taigna and I, as good married couples do, want each for the other what she wants" (Loc. 527). In "Virtue and the Archangel," socialite Velliaune calls on former classmate Nyana, now a fencer, to help retrieve a luckstone that was lost during an ill-advised romantic escapade. Nyana has her own ideas about luck and love and leverages the situation to her advantage, much to spoiled Vellie's surprise.

In Robins' introduction, she mentions that she would like to write more stories set in her city-state (Loc. 17). She namechecks Riverside and Ile-Rien as some of her inspirations (Loc. 9). There's less grit and grime in Robins' stories, but there are hints at a more complex underbelly. One hopes Robins writes a novel-length story set in Meviel so that she can flesh out this undertone—and create even more opportunities for her protagonists to thumb their noses at society's dull expectations while they swashbuckle their way to independence. ( )
  LibraryPerilous | Jul 27, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
'Luckstones' is a collection of three short stories, all set in a fantasy world centered around female protagonists. The first short story 'A Wreath of Luck' takes place on a pirate ship and has an interesting twist. The second short story 'Writ of Exception' follows a girl sent to search for a lost gem and the troubles that entail. The third and final short story of the collection, 'Virtue and the Archangel' is an unusual take on the idea of arranged marriage. All three stories are easy and fun reads, I would recommend to anyone looking for a quick and pleasant set of adventure stories that aren't too predictable or cliched! ( )
  Kelsey93 | Jul 27, 2015 |
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