Gentle, Mary -- Ilario: The Lion's Eye

Standalone novel set in Gentle's "Ash" alternate history. I say this is her best novel; the plot is coherent (not tight, but plenty of momentum). It rebounds between political intrigue (petty and dirty, not world-spanning) and the wonders of Gentle's mad setting, while remaining tightly focussed on themes of family and gender. In every combination -- the protagonist is a (true) hermaphrodite, and the story only more complicated from there. And unlike Gentle's usual take on family, it's not unremittingly bitter. (Note: currently in print in the US, but divided into two volumes confusingly titled "The Lion's Eye" and "The Stone Golem". I read the UK edition.)

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