Thursday, June 19, 2014

"The Foretelling" by Alice Hoffman

This is a book I read as a teen, my first Alice Hoffman. You'd think that this is the novel that made me her fan, but I was honestly unimpressed after reading this and rated it accordingly.

The style of this book is a bit hard for me to swallow. At times, it's lyrical and lovely. At other times, it is so choppy and abrupt it hurts my eyes. I also really didn't like that this book was double spaced: if it wasn't done that way, it would probably be labeled a novella. I don't like books where there is a lot of formatting and random art pieces that sometimes take up a lot of the page, because I buy books for reading words and not looking at pretty things, and this was one of those books. But when I look past all of that, this book is worthy of being read, despite all my nitpicking.

The Plot:
Rain is the heir apparent in her tribe of Amazon warriors, although her mother and Queen, Alina, doesn't treat her like it. She was born as a result of intruders of their land raping Alina and leaving her for dead. Rain had hoped that as she matured, her mother would warm to her, but in her thirteenth year, a time when all Amazonia girls get their horse, it becomes clear that Alina will never be part of her world. Rain gets her mare from another source, the warrior Astella, who taught her to ride. It is said Rain has the gift for prophecy, and therefore her dreams are omens of the future. But increasingly, her dreams feature one thing, a black horse. The omen of death.

Rain is an interesting character because even though she's been brought up to be a warrior and kill anything foreign, when she finally meets a foreigner and he aids her she chooses not to kill him. She also doesn't spend a lot of time with her tribespeople, and only finds a friend in a former slave girl her people rescued. Generally when I think of queens-to-be, you'd think they would spend more time with their people instead of with their animals, but I could see how the Amazon tribe would differ.

It has been a subject of debate in recent years as to whether the Amazons of the ancient world were mythological or actually historical. I wasn't quite sure what to label this with, so I did a little digging online, and came up with this helpful article from the Smithsonian. Archaeologists have found remains of female warriors buried in kurgans- just as this book depicts.

The Foretelling is a tale about a queen-to-be coming of age and inheriting responsibilities. While it certainly isn't one of my favorites, it succeeds in bringing to life the myth and the history of the tribe of Amazon female warriors. If you are looking for a quick book about the Amazons, consider making The Foretelling your next read.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for an interesting story with historical details that fell a bit short of my expectations.

Content: Violence, rape and sexual references, and Amazon culture. Ages 14+.

Page Count: 167 pages in my paperback edition, double spaced, with extra space taken for art elements.

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