An Accident Of Stars: 1 Mass Market Paperback – 21 November 2018
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- Publisher : ROH (21 November 2018)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0857665855
- ISBN-13 : 978-0857665850
- Dimensions : 10.92 x 3.3 x 17.53 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 103,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"An Accident of Stars' interwoven, beautifully rendered cultures are filled with rich details, complex family bonds of all kinds, and deeply layered politics. To enter Kena and the surrounding lands is to be irrevocably and powerfully changed. Foz Meadows has created an epic adventure unlike any I've read before."
- Fran Wilde, Nebula- and Norton-nominated author of Updraft and Cloudbound
"A portal fantasy for grownups, with grit and realism, and characters I loved from the first page."
- Trudi Canavan, author of the Black Magician trilogy
"Fantasy readers who appreciate strong characters and excellent worldbuilding will immerse themselves in this tale."
- Publishers Weekly, starred review
It's quite lovely... The main strength of this is its cast, which walks off the page - there's characters of all ages, all walks of life and all sexual orientations-and its gut punch ending.
- Aliette de Bodard
"Reminiscent of Ursula K LeGuin, An Accident of Stars will take you to a lush, magical new world."
- Laura Lam
"I very much enjoyed this. The main character falls out of our world into a life-changing adventure, with compelling characters and a fascinating world. I can't wait to read the next book."
- Martha Wells, author of The Books of Raksura
"An Accident of Stars is anchored in dozens of complex women, driven by the rooted, deep relationships they have with each other. It's a wonderful, rich, feminist book, and I loved it."
- B R Sanders, author of Ariah
"This fabulous story bowled me over with a compelling blend of intimacy, danger, twisty politics, believably imperfect characters, and a fascinatingly complex universe."
- Kate Elliott, author of Black Wolves and Cold Magic
"Richly imaginative world building with delightfully complex and diverse characters; a joy to read!"
- Ann Lemay, videogame writer
"This is the portal fantasy I've spent my whole life waiting for."
- Liz Bourke for Tor.com
"So this was basically all the things I'd enjoyed about portal fantasies as a younger reader, with the dubious gifts the suck fairy might have bestowed either questioned or removed."
- Ann Leckie
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Top reviews from Australia
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What makes this book such a great read is the amount of effort that Meadows put into building her world. There are more than enough little details, from slang to food to clothing, to make this world feel real. But what really shines is how carefully Meadows seems to have thought through the sociological implications of what makes her world different. It's a matriarchy, and it's more sexually open, but that doesn't mean it's a feminist paradise. The world still has prejudice and injustice and bad people. Meadows has built a world that feels like it developed organically from a different set of base assumptions than our world did; but it's still a world of imperfect humans.
None of that worldbuilding would matter of course if the story and characters weren't great, and they are. The plot moves along at a brisk clip, with just the right balance between action, dialogue, description and exposition. The characters are vivid and differentiated. The main protagonist is easy to sympathise with, and her reactions are believable (which is often a problem in portal fantasies *cough*Thomas Covenant*cough*).
There are a few problems with the book; minor niggles really. There are some egregious cases of infodumping, especially near the start. It's kinda justified in-story, but they still feel like "As you know Bob..." moments. Some of the characters are written to sound much older and MUCH wiser than they are supposed to be. Also, the way Meadows tries to address some problematic tropes and work social justice issues into the dialogue or thoughts is inelegant. All of these problems, especially the last one, are easily to overlook because the book wears it's heart on its sleeve from the first page.
Highly recommended for anyone looking for some classic fantasy adventure in a new and unique world.
Top reviews from other countries
If you like this, try Michelle Sagara 'Cast in...' series -but read in order or it gets too complicated. Also try the excellent P.C. Hodgells' Kencyrath series and you may enjoy some Mercedes Lackey 'Valdemar' stories too. Don't forget the straight classic Andre Norton 'Witchworld', or Marion Zimmer-Bradley 'Darkover' books. For f/f pairings go to the 'Aggar' series of Chris Anne Wolfe, the 'Alsea' series from Fletcher de Lancey or check out the Magdon and Magly pairing, Lise Mc Teague's contributions (start with Depths of Blue) is more f/f sci-fi mil-fic. Whatever you read Enjoy!
Foz Meadows' An Accident of Stars drags portal fantasies screaming into the twenty-first century: her young protagonist Saffron is an intelligent and fairly streetwise high-schooler who still struggles with the pressure and bullying of the school system and her classmates, and the sudden appearance of Gwen Vere seems to offer an answer to her problems. Obviously, that's not going to be the case...
There are no easy, pat answers in this book, no safe resolutions. The multiverse is a dangerous place, and both Saffron and the reader learn that by the end of the first part of the book. By the time the final confrontation comes around, it's obvious that not everybody is going to make it out alive, and here Meadows doesn't disappoint, though she also includes an even larger twist and a heartbreaker ending to prove the point that portal fantasies don't require happy endings. Foz Meadows' characters are full of pain and perseverance alike, fully rounded people who you want to read more about almost instantly.
My copy of the book has formatting issues that are a hangover from a virus that affected the final layouts - you'll find a fair few reviews criticising this as though it's the author's fault, but it's more than easy enough to read past these errors so that they don't affect the story itself. There's also criticism that the book is too YA, that it's somehow too diverse, that the differences between the Vekshi and the Kenan races are too black-and-white. As to that last, it's easy to spot that even the characters themselves are puzzled by that - it's clearly a question that Meadows will be returning to later in the series. Too tick-boxy diverse? Uh, no, not from where I'm sitting. Too YA? Oh come on, are you serious? What does that even mean? What's wrong with YA? Have you read it? Sometimes I just despair...
Rant over. Excellent portal fantasy, deserves better formatting (ebook versions are correct, I hear), wonderful cover art that both harks back to the past and drives the modern feel, can't wait for The Braided Path. Buy it.
Anyway, the premise of An Accident of Stars is that it's possible to travel between worlds in a multiverse and one of our main characters, a teenager called Saffron, ends up following someone through a portal to a place called Kena. The woman she follows, Gwen, previously got involved in a spot of king-making in Kena, only to discover that the man she'd helped take over was not what he seemed to be, and now she's on the run from him and his generally nasty ways. Gwen is involved with a ragtag bunch, mostly people who are refugees or in disgrace for one reason or another, and bad things happen to Saffron almost as soon as she steps foot in Kena.
And then it started heading into three stars territory instead of four because of the amounts of info-dumping that happen along the way, which made the plot drag a bit at times. I think in a month where I'd had more impetus to read stuff, I probably would have given up partway through, so maybe the author got lucky with me in terms of timing? Anyway, there's more portal travel, Saffron and her new friend Zech (whose name I had to just go and check, which isn't a great sign) go through a magical ritual and efforts are made to depose the unworthy king. Zech's actions also cause some future problems, as she makes promises she shouldn't have and I fully expect that to come back and bite everyone in the future.
In some ways, the most interesting thing about the book was about Saffron's plans and thoughts on how to deal with returning home. She's been physically mutilated while in Kena, so it's not like she's going to be able to hide that something bad has happened. So, not a bad book but not as gripping as it probably should have been and I can't say I'll be pre-ordering the inevitable next book in the series (A Tyranny of Queens).
Initially this review was just incoherent screaming about how much i love this book, i've trying to translate that for you now:
Everything about An Accident of Stars made me fall in love with it a little more. From the clever, character-and-yet-also-fate-driven plot to writing that described just enough to set the scene clearly without interrupting the momentum of the narrative. Foz Meadows handled violence and fighting very impressively, allowing the world to include a natural amount of violence and yet allowing for mental scaring, for emotional trauma - and most importantly, conversations and time given for healing said wounds. The characters are amazing! Each with their own failings and issues and yet each completely vital to the narrative, and also they are all my favourite children now (yes, especially the ones old enough to be my grandmother). I'm also indescribably grateful for the number of queer characters that are present in this universe and, for how respectfully they were treated, how naturally their lives were included in the narrative.
An Accident of Stars is honestly the best book i've ever read. Does that mean it will be the best one for you too? Not necessarily. But surely it is worth finding out?