Somali-American writer Sofia Samatar deservedly won many awards for her dazzling fantasy novel A Stranger in Olondria, which drew on her experience teaching English in her father’s homeland to explore colonialism, religious conflict, and the love of books in new ways. The companion novel, The Winged Histories, tells the stories of four women on different sides of the conflict that erupted in the first book: Tav, the cross-dressing general who starts the civil war; Tialon, the religious scholar whom readers will remember as the best character in the 1st book; Seren, Tav's lover, a poet who grapples with the good and bad of her nomadic people’s traditional ways; and Siski, a socialite with a secret of state importance. As always, Samatar’s work, which explores the different ways women’s stories are told and not told, is brainy and beautifully written; you don’t need to have read the first book, though I personally found it helpful. The Winged Histories took a bit longer to get into that Stranger, but was well worth it. Highly recommended!
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