Thank you PBS, for introducing me to my new favorite author! This book was unlike anything I've ever read. Taking place in a Mad Max-like, post apocalyptic wasteland, a new race of psychically gifted, impossibly gorgeous hermaphroditic beings known as the Wraeththu emerge from the ashes to assume their rightful place as the highest life form on earth. These creatures are able to reproduce by two different means: the "old-fashioned" way, and also by injecting their own blood into a worthy human recipient, much like a vampire. Incepted into this race by the latter means, a young man named Pellez is sent on a journey in which he must realize his destiny as the leader of this fledgling race and thereby bring peace to the land.
Equal parts political intrigue, erotica, and coming-of-age, this was one hell of a book I couldn't put down. As one of the previous reviewers pointed out, there are indeed lots of sex scenes, but they were all very tastefully and beautifully written (as were the descriptions of the wraeththu sexual organs. Trust me, they weren't graphic at all.) There were lots of very interesting and well-developed characters, my favorite of which was the regal, imposing and seemingly cold-hearted Vaysh, who in reality was actually a big softie. There was even some very interesting social commentary on the status of women, the division of the sexes, and gender inequality that rings true even now, almost two decades after the book's publication.
There were some things that bothered me, however. One was that it was riddled with typos. This book really could've used a much better editor. Something else I found extremely irritating were all the words and phrases unique to the Wraeththu tongue. That in itself didn't bother meâ¦would bothered me was the fact that I had to keep referring to the glossary that contained spoilers! Knowing crucial elements to the plot ahead of time didn't deter me from reading the rest of the book, but I still would have liked to have been surprised.
All in all, this was a great book that I highly recommend. I can't wait for the next two books in the series to be posted here on PBS, so I opted to shell out the 30 bucks for a revised omnibus edition. I therefore re-enter this amazing book into the system in hopes that another fellow PBSer stumbles upon this literary gem and falls in love with it, just like I did. Hope you like it!
A masterpiece. Constantine was, and is, way ahead of her time.
This was one of those books I just could not finish. It's very rare that I can't at least skim my way through the parts I don't care for and finish the story but this one was just way too convoluted for me.
On top of that this book should come with a bit of a warning. As the blurb says the main characters are "a strange new kind of human being, a race whose psychic powers will place them as far beyond their parent race as man was beyond the ape" what that blurb doesn't tell you is that they are also a new sex as well. Complete with new sex organs which are described rather graphically.
I am in no way a prude but the storyline almost seems to revolve more around the sex than the story of Pellaz, much to the detriment of the story.
It was a pretty good book. The characters are pretty interesting as is the plot. The story's excitement really stops at the middle of the book. Really nothing really happens but just basic story moving stuff. That kind of bothered me when I finally realized it was ending. It also bothered me how awfully misogynistic the idea of women not being able to become Wraeththu is. I mean, we have one female character who kind of does something at least, but other than her the treatment of women is off-putting. Pellaz mentions it a few times and Storm talks about women's possible loneliness but nothing is done to correct this. I get that there're more books but still. Not even a hint. And, yes. I understand that they are hermaphroditic but everyone is referred to as "he." Yeah, I guess it causes pronoun problems and the book is from the 80s but no one WANTS to be "female." No one ever says, "oh, I prefer 'she'." I suppose it will be interesting to see how the next generation breed by Wraeththu behaves, especially since creating a new pronoun was mentioned in the book, though it was in passing.
ANYWAY. It was fun to read and Constantine really draws you into the story and makes you want to stay there. It ended too soon, if you ask me, but I guess that can happen when it's a memoir from a young person.