A Stranger in Olondria

a novel

eBook, 320 pages

English language

Published April 12, 2013 by Small Beer Press.

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4 stars (13 reviews)

Jevick, the pepper merchant's son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick's life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria's Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.

In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire's two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country shimmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting "her" free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and …

2 editions

A wonderful novel

5 stars

This is an ode to books, the power and poetry of words and stories, and it's gorgeously written, without pretention, in a way that takes the reader seriously and transports them instantly into the maze of the author's imagination. The world created isn't a typical western-middle-age fantasy world, it's strongly influenced by south asia, and north and east africa. If you're longing for something poetic and vivid, it's a rewarding read.

Review of 'A stranger in Olondria' on 'LibraryThing'

5 stars

What a gorgeous book. The rich, rich writing is a feast for the eyes, and while at first it felt like that would be the sole pleasure of the book (which would have been enough to keep me reading!), after a few chapters it turns into a gripping story that has a lot to say the clash of literate vs oral cultures, the experience of being a stranger in a strange land, and the pitfalls of putting a culture on a pedestal.

Review of 'A Stranger in Olondria' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This is a book that is definitely About Something. I'm not sure what.

I mean, it's clearly About literacy, and pre-literate cultures, and the contact between them. It's also About disability, and the intersection of economics and class. It's a little bit About abuse in families and responses to it, and being an immigrant.

But man, what's it about? I don't know. Reading. Something about reading.

Should you read this book: if you like nineteenth century first-person travel accounts, you should buy this book immediately, because that is what it is most like. If you like fantasy that is not like other fantasy, give this a shot? If you have a lot of feelings about reading, you might like this.

Discussion questions for people who have read this book:
Why is every story from an oral tradition so terrible? Like, not bad, just depressing and awful.

What is …

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  • Books and reading--Fiction.