||May 15, 2009
The Deviations Series
Volume 2 of the Deviations series, sequel to Covenant. Available for free download from Elissa's website, Manybooks.net, and Smashwords.com.
The Covenant has been destroyed and Crossroads' way of life along with it. The Masari face starvation in the depth of winter. Without Crossroads' tithes, the Basc Yata are equally helpless. In the midst of famine, Promontory and Destiny Farm prepare to conquer the valley.
A secret and uneasy alliance remains the only option. Unwillingly thrust into power, HigherBrook must now trust Gria, the very person who had led the massacre of Crossroads' hunters.
Another partnership proves even more disturbing. As Gria and TripStone plot to destroy Destiny Farm, what began as a fringe militia has expanded into a fullblown Yata army. Destiny Farm's meat keeps Crossroads alive, but every sale bankrupts Crossroads further and increases the risk of Basc's Yata becoming livestock.
TripStone's ticket into Promontory is the meat trader BrushBurn. Each seeks to manipulate the other, but their mutual attraction and unsettling intimacy place both at risk.
Unaware of the fate that has befallen Crossroads, TripStone's comrade Ghost and his pregnant wife Piri search for a home where they can raise their hybrid child in peace. But no place is safe, and Piri risks giving birth in the deepest heart of danger.
Alvav: The Cliff
Broad and deep, the steps in Alvav swallowed Piri's tiny feet as she hoisted herself up the rock wall. Ghost watched muscles jumping in her calves and buttocks, her shoulders tensing beneath her pack. He climbed behind her, his long legs negotiating granite with ease. The overhangs accommodated his height. The distances fit his stride.
He cast a worried glance at the chiseled stone, at passageways too narrow for Yata to pass abreast, yet too cavernous for one. This route was designed for Masari bodies.
"These steps are not sized for Yata," he called to her. "Be careful."
Piri pointed toward a high ledge, where sentinels paced back and forth behind a low marble balustrade. Their smooth skin held a warm glow against the silvery stone. Their black hair gleamed in the light. They appeared small, but that could be a trick of the distance. Many more steps remained.
The clouds were gone, but now the wind picked up. The stairway became more recessed, carved more deeply into the mountain to protect climbers from the elements. Ghost rested his palm against deeply-scored rock that felt cool even at midday. Iron spikes jutted from the walls.
Piri grabbed one, hauling herself determinedly up the giant steps. Ghost frowned at the goosebumps raised on her arms. Climbing behind her for so long, he realized with a start that her pale hair now hid most of her branding.
They advanced in silence. Occupied with her ascent, Piri's fingers were too far ahead of him to drum any messages. At last, passing back into crisp open air, Ghost could tell that the sentinels were indeed Yata. They ringed the top of the stairway, their stance protective, curved knives belted to their waists. Jeweled chains sparkled around their necks.
Piri lifted her head and beamed a smile at them.
They glanced down at her with raised eyebrows, joking amongst themselves in their own lilting tongue. One waved Piri forward with a gesture that was more challenge than welcome.
"Something's wrong," Ghost whispered. "Let me squeeze past you and go ahead."
Piri shook her head, quickening her pace.
Ghost's heart lurched. If he overtook and stopped her, where then would they go? These men were the first Yata she'd seen outside captivity. Their language was foreign to her, but it was her language, nonetheless.
It was foreign to Ghost as well. His family, tillers of the soil, had no need to learn Yata. He couldn't understand the guards' banter.
But he could read cruelty.
Rachel Baker, Old Musty Books
The Deviations series by Elissa Malcohn is interesting, to say the very least. When I first started reading Deviations: Covenant, I wasnít sure I was going to be able to get through the book. On the surface, this series is bizarre. The first chapter describes a young woman with LOTS of facial and body hair, her preparation for the hunt, the ritualistic killing of another human (?) being for the meat needed to sustain her family. WHAT?!
The first half of Deviations: Covenant was one of the most vulgar reading experiences Iíve ever had. My stomach churned, my lip curled in disgust and I contemplated the ďIím sorry I canít review thisĒ email to the author.
But then things changed.
I began to be entrenched in the story and what it was REALLY about. This series is about social cannibalism. Specifically, its about one society using the resources of another to guarantee their continued existence. According to the authorís site:
The series focuses on the social, ethical, and spiritual dilemmas surrounding both the literal cannibalism of the societies involved and the many ways in which their different communities feed off each other.
Allow me to get really specific for a few seconds. The Masari eat the Yata, in exchange for their meat, the Masari consider the Yata gods, and provide them with the resources they need to survive. There is a covenant between the two societies which makes the killing of the Yata ritualistic and demands the killing only takes place on Meat Day. The preparation, the hunt and the post hunt is a beautiful spiritual process. The doomed Yata even gives his/her blessings before the Masari takes his/her life.
There are people in both societies who despise the Covenant. One group of people hate the idea of having a dependence on another culture that requires them to kill to survive, and one group hates the idea of being revered as gods, and killed so the other culture can continue to thrive. The inter-dependence between these cultures causes assention all around, but in all the years since the beginning of the Covenant, people have more or less accepted it. But then the whole idea of the Covenant somewhat shatters when some Masari take in a Yata woman in the woods who was raised as livestock instead of a god.
Deviations: Covenant is about an important discovery TripStone (Masari) has made and about Griaís (Yata) final preparations for dissolving the Covenant. Deviations: Appetite is about the two groups joining forces to help make the Yata less dependent on the Masari for goods and the Masari less dependent on the Covenant for their survival, while making it a fair fight for the Yata. It is also the beginning of the destruction of Destiny Farm - the place that raises Yata like livestock and then turns around and sells the Yata to Masari when they donít/canít hunt - oh and sells better weapons ot the Yata. These books are an interesting study in social cannibalism and the effect it has on different societies - the cannibals, the victims and the factions exploiting both.
It turns out I really enjoyed Deviations: Covenant and Deviations: Appetite and have wondered all week how they will resolve in the third book which comes out in December. If you are looking for something different with a great story line, I would suggest reading these books. They are very well written and draw the reader into the story, possibly against their will. There are places in the books that were so beautifully written, I forgot the passage was describing the eating of another human being.
There is a rawness to these books that might make one uncomfortable while reading, but will push you towards completion. I couldnít help asking myself what would our lives be like if we were dependant on another raceís flesh and blood for our survival? Would the killing be ritualistic? Would we deify the other race? Would I be able to kill another human to ensure the survival of my family? And I gotta tell ya - the answers were disturbing. Maybe NOW we donít physically eat the meat of other people, but there sure has been a great deal of cannibalism in our history in one way or another. In some ways, I NEED to read the third book - I need to see that it turns out fine for both the Yata and the Masari and they can come to a peaceful resolution with the Covenant dissolved. I NEED to know humanity will be okay.
The author, Elissa Malcohn gives the books away in downloadable form for free. Thatís right - she gives them away! If you go here , she explains why she is giving them away. She has also given me permission to post the downloadable links here. These books are free, the download is free and I recommend adding them to your book stack for something a little different. It probably goes without saying the content of these books are not really PG rated, so be prepared. Push past the initial reaction of ďthis is just disgustingĒ and try to remember thereís a bigger picture here. I promise, you wonít be disappointed.
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