R. B. Lemberg’s gorgeous prose sets THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES apart as one of the most beautifully written fantasies of the year
Roughly one month from publication, R. B. Lemberg’s THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES (not due until September, but available for pre-order from your favorite bookseller or direct from Tachyon) continues to garner praise.
In LOCUS (August 2020), Gary K. Wolfe reviews the novella.
For nearly a decade, R.B. Lemberg has been developing their Birdverse world in a number of stories and poems, and I confess to having seen only a handful of them prior to reading their first novel THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES. But the novel provides most of what you need to know about this universe, which worships the god Bird and Bird’s ‘‘hidden brother Kimri,’’ who serves as a men’s god for some of the tribes and alliances that make up this rather sparse desert world. Lemberg was, as I recall, the only author to become a finalist for the Crawford fantasy award on the basis of a volume of poetry (Marginalia to Stone Bird), and it’s apparent from the outset that their novel is the work of a poet. The prose is lyrical, evocative, and precise, and it soars when it needs to, without ever yielding to coloratura dramatics.
That’s not the only thing appealing, and even refreshing, about this remarkable novel. For one thing, Lemberg demonstrates how it’s possible to construct an evocative and expansive setting without the need for hundreds of pages of arduous, stone-by-stone worldbuilding, and how, by doing this, the setting becomes a function of the tale, rather than the other way around. For another, they populate this tale with a fascinating mix of characters of various gender identities, including nonbinary children (one narrator’s grandchild is ‘‘neither a boy nor a girl’’; others are referred to as ‘‘in-between’’).
For once, these aren’t whip-smart kids learning to be gods or kings, but complex, experienced older adults recognizing and acting on what a lifetime has taught them about resistance, redemption, and loyalty. If that isn’t rarity enough, Lemberg’s gorgeous prose sets THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES apart as one of the most beautifully written fantasies of the year.
BEAUTY IN THE RUINS feels much the same.
Powerful, magical, lyrical, and beautifully original, THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES is one of those books where you linger over each paragraph, admiring the flow of words almost as much as the flow of ideas. R.B. Lemberg weaves – quite literally – a tale of change that encompasses the transformation of bodies, families, and identities.
While I don’t re-read a lot of books, I’m looking forward to sitting down and immersing myself in the paperback of THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES once it’s released. There’s such a depth of meaning to it all, I’m confident I’ll uncover a whole other reading.