Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen

I have seldom been as moved by a book as I have been moved by Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen.

The year is 2132 when members of the Anthropologist’s Guild set down on the planet Henderson’s IV, or L’Lal’lor as it is known to the native population. Charged with the nonintrusive study of alien cultures, the crew discovers a society containing no love or laughter. It is, instead, centered around death—a world of aristocratic and common folk in which grieving is an art and the cornerstone of life. But the alien civilization stands on the brink of astonishing change, heralded by the discovery of Linni, the Gray Wanderer, a young woman from the countryside whose arrival has been foretold for centuries. And for Anthropologist First Class Aaron Spenser, L’Lal’lor is a place of destructive temptations, seducing him with its mysterious, sad beauty, and leading him into an unthinkable criminal act.

jane yolenThe book is quite short and in a way very simple compared to a lot of epic fantasy and sf books today. However, it’s message is interesting and fresh.

The culture of the native people of L’Lal’lor is incredibly rich. The characters are interesting enough that I read the entire book in one sitting, unable to stop once I had started. It’s not as though the story is unexpected, rather I know where things are going (it’s pretty obvious) but I enjoy the journey.

Jane Yolen is a tremendously talented writer, this book is clear evidence of that.

Daily writing prompt: Prophecy

Honestly, at this point I am tired of the whole prophecy thing in fantasy books. It seems like every single fantasy book has a prophecy about the destined savior. Even a sf book like Cards of Grief has them. It used to be pretty effective but now that everyone uses prophecies, it’s just so lame and cliché.


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