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Tess of the Road (2018)

by Rachel Hartman

Series: Southlands (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8396826,140 (3.96)37
In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can't seem to keep out of trouble. When Tess's family decides the only path for her is a nunnery, she chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. The open road is a map to somewhere else--a life where she might belong.… (more)
  1. 10
    Turning Darkness into Light by Marie Brennan (g33kgrrl)
    g33kgrrl: Young women who can't quite live up to the family they are carrying around inside their heads. The reasons are different, but the battle is somewhat similar.
  2. 00
    The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (Heather39)
    Heather39: Both are coming-of-age adventure stories of strong-willed young women with an interest in science/medicine. Also, dragons!
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» See also 37 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Impressions:

* I did not think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did, and now I'm off to read Seraphina immediately. Thank fuck overdrive has it.

* I am SO BORED of fantasy that takes place in generic medieval europe, maybe with a different map, because that's where fantasy books Must Happen. TotR is, astonishingly, set in a medieval europe analogue that has a real sense of place and culture. Serfs and hedgerows, monasteries, natural philosophers and their societies, repressive religion with weird pagan roots, and even the clothes (I Wikipedia'd them). Plus dragons and quigutl, with interesting alien cultures of their own.

* Quigutl grammar is Absolutely Yes. The way different languages are represented in the text is super interesting, and outside the usual literary conventions (the bee/beet/beer scene for instance). Given all that, the decision to italicize the pronoun ko and use he/she/it for quigutl when the proper pronoun is RIGHT THERE is really strange.

* Quigutl culture as a whole is really weird and I love it, I love a good alien culture. The way they waver back and forth between person and animal status is... uncomfortable. I don't know how much credit to give Hartman around this, but the cultural discrimination was brushing up against real-world racialized discrimination, and of course quigutl aren't human, so that starts to go some weird places? Maybe I just get twitchy about greedy anarchic lizard-people stereotypes, idk.

* Tess is quite straight, all crossdressing aside, but I love her anyway.

* Are they really just... Not... going to address who Lord M is? It's sort of obvious, and wow that's a tough place to set up the presumptive next book in the series. ( )
  caedocyon | Feb 23, 2024 |
Funny, smart, and with emotional depth and intelligence that kept surprising me. ( )
  mmparker | Oct 24, 2023 |
Got this as part of the 2019 Hugo Awards packet. I ran out of time to read it for the voting, but have finally read it. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have rated it for an award.

It’s mid-series, and frankly it shows. I also found the world-building somewhat suspect; the local religions seem to be old-style Irish Catholicism with the serial numbers filed off with added dragons and draconoids. It’s also too much of a YA misery memoir; it’s supposed to be uplifting but frankly the ending doesn’t make up for the rest of the story.

Not something I want to continue with.
  Maddz | Jul 10, 2023 |
DNF 16%

After reading a bit of this book, I decided to read a couple of reviews so I would know what I was getting myself into. And yeah, I'm gonna have to pass. This sounds like a slog of self-hatred that's only going to make me feel bad. ( )
  OhDhalia13 | Apr 9, 2023 |
Ever read a book where you cry the entire time? Every chapter is filled with love and guilt and shame and joy? When you empathize so completely with the narrator?

This book. It really resonated with me. Your mileage may vary. ( )
  tornadox | Feb 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Tess of the Road is astonishing and perfect.
 
I loved Tess of the Road with the strength of a thousand dragons.

It is not an easy read and it’s not a straightforward read but it is a very rewarding read. It’s less fantastical than I was expecting but it is still more than I was expecting in every single way.
added by g33kgrrl | editThe Book Smugglers (Mar 1, 2018)
 
Like Tess’ journey, surprising, rewarding, and enlightening, both a fantasy adventure and a meta discourse on consent, shame, and female empowerment.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2018
 

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In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can't seem to keep out of trouble. When Tess's family decides the only path for her is a nunnery, she chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. The open road is a map to somewhere else--a life where she might belong.

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