Title: The Four Profound Weaves
Author: R.B. Lemberg
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Length: 192 Pages
Category: Historical Fantasy
At a Glance: The Four Profound Weaves is an emotional story, at times intense and brutal in its telling, but nothing less than sincere. Its beauty is in its weaving of words into a fantasy steeped in its characters’ truths and desires.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Wind: To match one’s body with one’s heart
Sand: To take the bearer where they wish
Song: In praise of the goddess Bird
Bone: To move unheard in the night
The Surun’ nomads do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But aged Uiziya must find her aunt in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.
Among the Khana in the springflower city of Iyar, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter, as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother.
As his past catches up, the nameless man must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya—while Uiziya must discover how to challenge the evil Ruler of Iyar, and to weave from deaths that matter.
About the Birdverse: The Birdverse is the creation of fantasy author R. B. Lemberg. It is a complex, culturally diverse world, with a range of LGBTQIA characters and different family configurations. Named after its deity, Bird, Birdverse shorter works have been nominated the Nebula, Hugo, Tiptree award, and Rhysling awards. The Four Profound Weaves is the first full-length work set in the Birdverse.
Review: R.B. Lemberg’s The Four Profound Weaves is an esoteric sort of novel, as cerebral, reflective and weighty as the title suggests, and is both symbolic and deliberate in delivering its message. This story explores gender roles, and indeed gender itself, through both trans- and cisgender characters, as well as those the author names in-betweeners, those who are both male and female, or, perhaps more accurate, are neither male nor female.
This story takes place in an already established alternate reality called Birdverse, and I have to say, for better or worse, I learned nearly as much about the weaves and the world from the blurb as I did from the book itself. The Bird deity and the mythology surrounding it is threaded throughout as a point of reference more so than a central figure in the story, but there is nonetheless a ‘rise of the phoenix’ tone to it, which complements the elevation of those who transcend to their true selves.
“They cocooned me and burned without burning, and when they were done, I was myself in my body.”
The two protagonists, a woman called Uiziya e Lali, and a nameless man who refers to himself only as nen-sasaïr, son of sandbirds, until he is given a name that is his own, are the elders who lead readers through desert lands in search of the secret to the fourth Profound Weave, and in doing so are waylaid by evil in its human forms. Theirs is a story of survival and triumph, of redemption and transition, and Lemberg delivers it in a deeply woven, and obviously personal, narrative that proposes we are, perhaps not made up of a duality or a trinity or a quaternity, but are a composite of multitudes.
The Four Profound Weaves is an emotional story, at times intense and brutal in its telling, but nothing less than sincere. Its beauty is in its weaving of words into a fantasy steeped in its characters’ truths and desires.
You can buy The Four Profound Weaves here:
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