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Naondel

by Maria Turtschaninoff

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Red Abbey Chronicles (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
844283,545 (4.36)2
Booklist called Maresi "utterly satisfying and completely different from standard YA fantasy." Now, Naondel goes back to establish the world of the trilogy and tells the story of the First Sisters--the founders of the female utopia the Red Abbey. Imprisoned in a harem by a dangerous man with a dark magic that grants him power over life and death, the First Sisters must overcome their mistrust of one another in order to escape. But they can only do so at a great cost, both for those who leave and for those left behind. Told in alternating points of view, this novel is a vivid, riveting look at a world of oppression and exploitation, the mirror opposite of the idyllic Red Abbey.  … (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
A review I wrote in 2020:

Naondel (The Red Abbey Chronicles 2) by Maria Turtschaninoff, translated into English by A.
A. Prime (5 stars)

This second volume of The Red Abbey Chronicles looks backwards to the founding of the Red
Abbey island community and the stories of the women who travelled together across the ocean to
find a safe place they could call home.

First we meet Kabira, the first mother, a woman who was tricked into an abusive marriage when
she was young and whose independence, family, home and spiritual gifts were all taken from her.
She becomes the first woman enslaved in the palace of Ohaddin but by no means the last. The
women must do as the Master tells them, or face impossible consequences.

But the women are not without resources of their own and when the time is right they will seek
their revenge and try to escape their cursed prison.

A stunning sequel / prequel to Maresi. This book stays with you long after you’ve finished it. ( )
  ArdizzoneFan | Dec 15, 2021 |
On a visit to the capital, Kabira ak Malik-cho and her younger sister Lehan are charmed by Iskan, who offers to guide them around the city and palace, and at the end of the tour, reveals himself to be the son of the Vizier, the chief counsel to the Sovereign. He appears to take particular interest in Lehan. After the sisters have returned to their estate with their family, Iskan begins to make periodic visits to their home. The family speculates that he may be planning to court Lehan, although he never directly declares his intentions.

On one of these visits, Kabira takes him on a tour of the grounds and leads him to the sacred spring of Anji. Kabira knows about the powers of the waters flowing from the spring, to give strength and healing or to take away vitality and vigor depending of the phases of the moon. It also has the ability to foretell the future. Anxious to convince the skeptical and proud Iskan, she gives him a drink of its waters. He is more than convinced. In the next few months, he begins to make secretive nocturnal visits to the spring to rendezvous with Kabira, seduce her and gain the powers of the spring for himself.

This is a powerfully tale of deceit, betrayal, oppression, and an intoxicating quest for absolute power by a man without scruples who is quite willing to eliminate or cruelly subjugate anyone who stands in the way of his ambition. Turtschaninoff conveys the despair, the emotional and physical oppression of his many victims over decades so realistically and so well that the reader feels the tension and the sudden sharp relief at the end when a group of them make their escape. ( )
  MaowangVater | Jul 5, 2019 |
This is the second in the Red Abbey Chronicles, following the wonderful [b:Maresi|28818217|Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles, #1)|Maria Turtschaninoff|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1464821972s/28818217.jpg|42748019], but taking place long before Maresi's story.

This is a dark book. There is a lot of violence towards and mistreatment of women. The abuse is always brutally recounted from the point of view of the women, and is never intended to be anything other than repugnant.

This is the story of the women who endure the presence of an extremely revolting ass who lies, steals, betrays and destroys his way to power. The women are all powerful in different ways, and for a while their lives are in the hands of said revolting ass.

It was a difficult book to read, but I could not stop reading.

*eARC Netgalley* ( )
  Critterbee | Apr 16, 2018 |
In Naondel Maria Turtschaninoff returns to the world of Maresi and we learn of the circumstances around the founding of the Red Abbey and its first six members. Kariba is his first wife, who in youth and naivete falls for Iskan, son of the Vizier, and reveals to him the secret power of Anji, her family's sacred spring, a power which he soon seizes for himself. Over many years Iksan uses this power to strengthen his position and manipulate all those around him in terrible ways. Alongside the development of his political power is the creation of a brutal harem as he surrounds himself with wives and concubines and Kariba is joined by wives, slaves, servants and women stolen from her from their homes and lands. Over the course of many years these women learn to take comfort and strength in one another and to plan their escape. As a prequel the end is already known, after all without these women the Red Abbey would not exist to provide the haven in which Maresi lives and writes her tale but that doesn't make Naondel any less absorbing.

At first I felt that Naondel was weaker than the first novel. The simplicity of the first story is lost in the number of characters and narrative voices and the many decades and lands covered is quite the opposite of the brief, self-contained tale told by Maresi alone. In addition I had reservations over the frequency of the abuse suffered by the women. Naondel is brutal. These women are injured, humiliated and degraded at all times and rape is a recurrent event. Though each example is brief and never graphic it is difficult to read, and at first I wished that the focus on this most violent of oppressions lacked subtlety and failed to account for the many ways that women can be subjugated. I'm delighted to say that by the end I had entirely changed my mind. From pregnancy, to movement, to activity Iskan exercises full and cruel control over "his" women. The whole tale is built around the physicality of women and the ways in which they are reduced to mere bodies, objects to be used, abused, bought and controlled.

The counterpoint is the women themselves. They are strong and individual but they are also real. They make mistakes and they make compromises with their situation in order to survive. One of Turtschianioff's achievements is a fantastically diverse cast of female characters. She has created several wonderful cultures that add even greater depth to the world introduced in Maresi but they also represent a vital intersectional feminist message. These women are divided by age, race, class and gender identity and in order to protect themselves sometimes they are guilty of selfishness and cruelty towards one another. Their eventual sisterhood is not easy or inevitable but something that grows out of necessity and needs to be consciously constructed and worked at. It's an important message for young (and old) women that sometimes women themselves are amongst their own worst enemies, that by internalising the prejudices and structures imposed by others we can sometimes be led into oppressing each other. This is represented in the antagonistic relationship of the narrators. Kibira rigidly clings to her position as First Wife, enforcing the hierarchy within Iskan's harem and the women are often scornful of the appearance, habits and backgrounds of their companions.

The development of these characters and their situation is a hugely powerful story about reclaiming the female body from those who want to oppress it and having the freedom to do with it what we will. It also challenges gender roles, each character representing a different view of womanhood. Turtschaninoff manages all of this without ever overwhelming her story or her characters, Her writing is easily strong enough to carry the weight of her message, effortlessly moving from vivid descriptions of different lands and customs to breathless action. The plot is develops slowly but its momentum is inexorable and the narrative combines its many voices with confidence and skill. The writing is captivating and it really is a challenge to put it down, I couldn't, I read the whole thing in a single sitting. Most importantly her women are never idealised or reduced to mere cyphers for the things they represent and their diversity never feels like lip service to an ideal.

Naondel is a thoroughly gripping story that manages to combine a complex, inclusive and uncompromising feminist message with a beautifully realised fantasy world. A feminist clarion call in fantasy form.

NB My single remaining concern is that the prominence of sexual assault may mean that younger readers who enjoyed Maresi may not be ready for Naondel immediately. However, rape is never used for dramatic expedient and, like in Maresi, is balanced by the championing of female sexuality and the outright refusal to attach any shame our disapproval when this is a choice actively taken by the character. ( )
  moray_reads | Mar 20, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maria Turtschaninoffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Meeks, MirandaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prime, AnnieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Booklist called Maresi "utterly satisfying and completely different from standard YA fantasy." Now, Naondel goes back to establish the world of the trilogy and tells the story of the First Sisters--the founders of the female utopia the Red Abbey. Imprisoned in a harem by a dangerous man with a dark magic that grants him power over life and death, the First Sisters must overcome their mistrust of one another in order to escape. But they can only do so at a great cost, both for those who leave and for those left behind. Told in alternating points of view, this novel is a vivid, riveting look at a world of oppression and exploitation, the mirror opposite of the idyllic Red Abbey.  

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