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Book Review: Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

I thought how strange it was that I ever feared the end. That I had ever tried to escape it. And like that, it was done. My hand releasing from its fist. The battle fought. The life slipped from this old tether.

Spear cuts through waterI have been telling everyone I know who loves books about Simon Jimenez’s book The Spear Cuts Through Water.

(Well, everyone I know who won’t object to a few erotic queer love scenes.)

It’s kind of a hard book to explain. It has a framing device called the “inverted theatre,” which is an otherworldly theatre, a reflection on water, where many people are arriving to watch a play. One of the people is carrying a spear, a family relic given to her by her grandmother who used to tell her stories of the inverted theatre.

When the play begins, it is a story about the Moon Goddess, who was in love with the sea and so fell to earth to be with him—but then was trapped by the emperor. For many generations she has born the latest emperor one son, until this generation, when she has triplets. The performed play is the story of how she escapes and the battle that follows as the Triple Terrors try to put her back and regain control. Keema and Jun are the two main characters, bound in different ways to both the Moon Goddess and their pasts.

It’s hard for me to explain how much I loved this book. It’s partly that framing device, and it’s partly the adventure that Keema and Jun have. But it’s mostly the connections that are made between different generations of family. Who are we in the larger scope of the world and how do the stories of our ancestors affect us without us ever knowing? More, are the people who have died still with us in some way? What do we owe the dead, and what might they still owe us? And how are we brave, and what does bravery even look like? How are we ever absolved of our mistakes? What is death, anyway, and so what is life—the performance on the inverted theatre stage, or the theatre itself?

I don’t think everyone would love this novel. I can see the way the framing device might make it complicated to follow, and some of the story is told in second person which not everyone loves.

But for me? For me this novel is marvelous and healing and enthralling. It made me fear death less.

It’s my favorite book I’ve read so far this year.

(Keeping it short because really, it should just unfold for the reader with her knowing much other than to expect brilliance and occasional bouts of weeping.)


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