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What We’re Reading: Worldsoul

Post by Lauren Kage
Posted January 24, 2014 in NoveList Bookshelf

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Worldsoul by Liz Williams

ISBN: 9781607012955

The Library of Alexandria burned…on our world.  It endures in an Earth-adjacent realm called the Liminality -- the magical, vibrantly populated manifestation of human symbols and stories.  As a Librarian, Mercy Fane carries out her duties, which include checking a weapon out of the armory in order to face down mythopoeic monsters in the stacks.  Worldsoul, by Liz Williams, refers to the Liminality's greatest city: home of Fane, the Library, and until recently, the godlike Skein.  These rulers' disappearance not only lost Fane her mother, who left in search of them, but created a power vacuum that certain factions more conniving, if no less bookish, than the Library Elders are eager to fill.  

In the Northern quarter, reflecting the stories of Scandinavia, Jonathan Deed plots in service to himself and his patron god, Loki (but mostly himself).  The Eastern quarter reflects Asian and Middle Eastern mythology. Here, Suleiman the Shah compels the assistance of a young Muslim woman, an alchemist named Shadow, in securing his own position.  Life in Worldsoul is further complicated by exploding-flower aerial bombardments sent by an unknown aggressor.  With these conditions established in the opening chapters, Williams' story about stories speeds along through descriptive, exactingly-worded passages that celebrate imagination and myth across history, all the while conveying a tight, suspense-filled tale of internecine politics, friendship, and individual heroism. Recommended by Lauren Kage.