Friday, January 29, 2021

Book Review: Four Profound Weaves

The Four Profound Weaves
by R.B. Lemberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very complex first person narrative with deeply personal sentiments woven in. R. B. Lemberg gives us an OwnVoices story from the perspective of someone trans. We are dropped into a fantasy world with multiple cultures and beliefs with varying magic interspersed between. Four Profound Weaves is the type of book you could write entire English papers on given its depth, subject matter, and complicated core two characters.
While a wonderfully put together book; I personally found the writing style a bit challenging. It was repetitive in places and yet much too vague in others.

First Person POV
There are advantages and disadvantages to a first person narrative as used in Found Profound Weaves. While on one hand we get a deeply personal perspective from the characters and have an opportunity to experience their thoughts and true feelings; we also loose a lot of context and description of the world around us. Especially when the author writes like Lemberg and leaves out the details about the world that a normal person living their life wouldn’t “explain” to themselves. This technique often used in teen novels cheapens the first person narrative to a degree but also helps give context and description to the reader. It’s a difficult balance to find for any author; and for me Lemberg goes too far into the true personal thoughts of the characters and I felt like I didn’t really ever understand the fantasy world they live in.

Personal Insights
The huge benefit of the POV of our two main characters, however, is that we truly feel and know their most intimate thoughts. This allows Lemberg to share with the reader a lot more about how someone trans thinks and feels. There are revelations in here that feel so personal and yet are very insightful to someone on the outside like myself (I am a bisexual female). If you want to truly appreciate an OurVoices novel and learn something new I would highly recommend diving into Four Profound Weaves.
”I did not fit among women, among men.
Even far from home with only myself for company, I did not fit.”

Fantasy and Magic
The reason why this didn’t resonate for me is that I wanted to know so much more about the cultures, magic, and set-up of this fantasy world. In such a short novel we are given so little to truly give the reader more than a notion of what this world encompasses. I know there is a whole collection of books set in this world to search out and read; but I just craved more each time I learned a new perspective or use of the magic. Lemberg has setup a fantasy world with my personal favourite type of magics; ones that have consequences. Not only draining strength of the user, but also misfiring or causing unintended harm. Near the end of the book more of this is seen and understood but I wanted so much more and struggled to stay engaged without this larger context at times.

This is a special story given its insights into the thoughts and feelings of someone trans. As a fantasy book it lacked a certain detail and context I personally crave. There is a lot of potential in this fantasy world; and even for our two lead characters to continue telling us their stories. If the narrative were slightly different and more depth given to the actual fantasy world I think I would have loved this. As it stands now I struggled in places to keep going. I’m glad I did as the ending is wonderful and I do think there is something special to this book. Definitely one of those try it out and see if you like it books; especially if you want an OwnVoices trans representation. I’m confident anyone will find something to think about from the thoughts our characters share with the reader. Kudos to Lemberg for giving such a huge personal chunk of themselves over for the reader to experience and understand.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

I think there need to be more books like this - so often own voices stories focus on relatively 'mundane' events (not to put down these experiences, but you know what I mean) and I think reading and understanding other points of view is much more enganging (and thus, more people would do it) if embedded in a fantasy/scifi/etc story you'd pic up just for the story itself!