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Mini Reviews: A Woman of the Iron People, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, The Hidden Palace, Fireheart Tiger

Given that within the last week or so I managed to finish a book that confused me too much to write a full review, two novellas, and had another DNF, it’s once again time for a round of mini reviews.

A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason

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I’ve no idea what to think of this. While the parts with the aliens were interesting as expected, I don’t understand some of the decisions the author made when it came to the human crew at all. Why were there some hardcore caricature Marxists? What narrative or thematic point did that serve? They seemed so out of place in far future sci-fi and for supposedly educated people a lot of the characters were very…single-minded and one-dimensional. I don’t get it.

Tags that apply: sci-fi, aliens, female author, standalone, the fuck did i read

The Labyrinth’s Archivist by Day Al-Mohamed

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This was pretty good! A blind (unlike in most books, not 100%, she can see a little light and colour) Archivist trainee with perfect memory sets out to solve a string of murders to prove herself. It’s simple, but it works, and I loved the worldbuilding in particular – libraries, different species meeting and clashing, the Archivists…I would like to see more of it and this was only a novella, so I hope we eventually get sequels.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Content warnings: abuse

Tags that apply: fantasy, female author, lgbtq+, disability, novella

DNF: The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker (The Golem and the Jinni #2)

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DNF 20% – The very distant narrative style with a lot of timeskips really isn’t working for me. I liked the first book, a few years ago, in another time and another mindset, but now I’m finding the sequel more than a bit of a chore. There isn’t enough emotion and it feels like a description of events more than a story.

Perhaps some other time.

Tags that apply: fantasy, female author, religion, historical, historical fiction, not a fan

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard


This is about the third time I tried to pick this novella up, and third time was apparently the charm. Still, in the end, I hoped I would like this way more than I actually did. While the worldbuilding with its exploration of colonialism and abuse are interesting, they’d both do better with a bit more space than a novella’s worth, and the protagonist was not someone I particularly enjoyed following – though I can appreciate what de Bodard was trying to do. Better luck next time.

Enjoyment: 3/5
Execution: 3.5/5

Content warnings: abuse

Tags that apply: fantasy, novella, female author, standalone, non-western, lgbtq+, politics, colonialism

3 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: A Woman of the Iron People, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, The Hidden Palace, Fireheart Tiger”

  1. *makes a note of The Labyrinth’s Archivist*

    Shame you didn’t get on with Fireheart Tiger more; I can see where you’re coming from. As for The Hidden Palace… ooph. I’d been looking forwards to this (insofar as I remembered it), but based on what you’re saying, I might leave it for a while. Golem and Djinni was nearly too distant for me, so if this is worse…

    Woman of the Iron People remains on my TBR longlist tho.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry to hear the follow up to Golem and the Jinni isn’t as captivating – I loved Wecker’s first book. But I also am often skeptical of unplanned seqels, so I may avoid the second book.

    I also bounced off hard on Fireheart Tiger. I think the only reason I finished it was so I could complete all the Hugo nominees in time…

    Liked by 1 person

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