About Eleanor Arnason's Ring of Swords:
Both the narrators of this book use an understated, slightly self-mocking,
casual tone which may lead the reader to take the story lightly. It is not
a lightweight story. It is intellectually, emotionally, and ethically complex
and powerful. A great deal of it is told by implication only, and so the
moral solidity of the book and its symbolic and aesthetic effectiveness
may pass a careless reader right by. The characters are mature, thoughtful,
imperfect people, the settings are vivid, the drama is tense, and the science-fictional
reinvention of gender roles is as successful as any I have ever read.
The only physical gender difference between human and Hwarhath is that alien
women are a little larger than the men; but the cultural gender differences
are immense and their implications fascinating, both as a device for questioning
human prejudice and convention, and as the basis for a very good novel.
The shadowy presence of a third species runs through it both unifying its
ideas and always putting all assumptions back in question--a beautiful symbolic
device. A beautiful book.
--Ursula K. Le Guin, in the Wiscon 20 Program Book. Used by permission of
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