Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: Ariah by B.R. Sanders

Ariah by B.R. Sanders 
November 06th, 2015

Due to the Speculative Fiction nature of this book, this review is also crossposted to Twinja Book Reviews

Admittingly, this book is much different from fantasy I usually read. It's more of a bildungsroman fantasy genre book. By those not familiar with that way of storytelling, it deals with a main character going through a psychological journey, moral growth or both, who for the most part will experience new things and look for answers to new questions as they experience them.

Most times, the main character's strongest conflict is with the values of their society.

It's more literary fiction than say, Lord of The Rings.

With that being said, it's a really interesting book that addresses Gender, Sexuality and explores Polyamourous relationships.

Everything sets into motion when Ariah, the titular character, is set on a journey to apprentice with a mentor who can help him navigate his magic.

Ariah is a mimic and closeted shaper. He can draw out emotions and shape them or in turn feel them himself. Sometimes it was confusing for him, especially when he's forced to follow his mentor Dirva, to Dirva's hometown.

Some of the racial politics were a tad confusing. There were different races of elves, then there were Qin which I think were human? I didn't really read a ton of fantasy books with elves growing up, so maybe I'm missing an unspoken system for different colors/species elves fall under. Sometimes the book didn't always stop to explain it, just expecting me to know. It wasn't a deal breaker, I just didn't follow every detail, so when it came back, I was confused again.

I'm a bit ashamed to say that based on the cover and his description, I cannoned him white. If I'm not mistaken he's not white, but I think I would've taken something different from him if I'd known before I finished the book. Especially because more than a few of his love interests were Black, and I'm all about that Blasian. That's the main reason I would've taken something different from it. Blasian depictions are so rare it's embarrassing.

That kind of info will have me live tweeting as I read, telling everyone I know, and tagging it like crazy on social media. Like I said, I'm all about that Blasian.

It also highlights polyamourous relationships, which sadly get a bad rap based on monogamous relationships being the greater majority. Ariah came into his own sexuality, but I was a little disappointed that the thought of sleeping with a dude wasn't appealing to him, even though he was in love with Sorcha, one of his main love interests. He slept with women on the drop of a hat. As he came into himself, I wondered why(without giving a spoiler alert, which is really hard to do because it's so relevant!) Sorcha had to showcase femininity to justify his attraction to him.

But I'm glad it's actually addressing polyamorous relationships. I think when I was young, I used to think monogamy was the only answer, but educating myself on the subject, I see that 5+4 and 6+3 can both bring the same answer. Books like to paint the idea that there is only one person you're allowed to be in love with. I should be clear, that Ariah did not experience a love triangle. He had multiple love interests. At least two of the main people he was in love with were also(or at least how I saw it) in love with other people, and each love was valid.

But the topic of Gender came up in a better "even a fool should be learning something from this" kind of way. Ariah, much like most people in our society don't know how to address folks who don't identify as He or She. I'm learning myself to not automatically attach gender without first asking what a person prefers(really hard with a grocery cashier btw) and Ariah lived in a bubble where other pronouns were used.

It confused him to be surrounded by non-binary or those who chose not to adhere to a gender at all(cuz there's literally like a million XD). I'm sure there are more books that address this, but this just happens to be the first book I've read that addressed Gender Diversity. I look forward to finding more, as long as they're done with the same amount of respect as this book.

I wish Ariah would've been described more. I feel like a jerk for seeing him as a white dude.

And on a much less serious note, what was Ariah smoking every other chapter?

Ariah stayed gettin' high. He was supposed to be training, and it affected his training, yet he stayed smoking an L XD 

Overall, if you're looking for something new to chew on with your with Fantasy, you can buy Ariah today!