Catherynne Valente - The Orphan's Tales: in the Cities of Coin And Spice (Orphan's Tales)
Spectra | ISBN: 978 0553384048 | 30/10/2007 | English | 528 pages | PDF & LIT | 13 MB
Catherynne M. Valente enchanted readers with her spellbinding In the Night Garden. Now she continues to weave her storytelling magic in a new book of Orphan’s Tales—an epic of the fantastic and the exotic, the monstrous and mysterious, that will transport you far away from the everyday… Her name and origins are unknown, but the endless tales inked upon this orphan’s eyelids weave a spell over all who listen to her read her secret history. And who can resist the stories she tells? From the Lake of the Dead and the City of Marrow to the artists who remain behind in a ghost city of spice, here are stories of hedgehog warriors and winged skeletons, loyal leopards and sparrow calligraphers. Nothing is too fantastic, anything can happen, but you’ll never guess what comes next in these intimately linked adventures of firebirds and djinn, singing manticores, mutilated unicorns, and women made entirely of glass and gears. Graced with the magical illustrations of Michael Kaluta, In the Cities of Coins and Spice is a book of dreams and wonders unlike any you’ve ever encountered. Open it anywhere and you will fall under its spell. For here the story never ends and the magic is only beginning….
The second and concluding volume of Tiptree Award–winner Valente's Orphan's Tales (after 2006's In the Night Garden), structured as a series of nested stories, is a fairy tale lover's wildest dream come true. A mysterious orphan girl, whose eyelids are darkly tattooed with the closely packed words from a seemingly endless number of fantastical tales, lives secretly in a palace garden. The girl shares her stories with the enthralled young heir to the Sultanate, who returns again and again to hear incredible yarns about one-armed heroes, hunchbacked ferrymen, giants, voracious gem eaters, conniving hedgehogs, harpies, djinns and singing Manticores. But with the wedding of the prince's sister Dinarzad (a not-so-subtle homage to The Arabian Nights) quickly approaching and harsh reality encroaching on the surreal garden, the orphan girl's stories finally run out. Cleverly examining and reconstructing the conventions of the fairy tale, especially the traditional roles of men and women, Valente has created a thought-provoking storytelling tour de force.
Original, delightful, gorgeous
This is a book (or, with its predecessor, pair of books) written on an old model: The Thousand Nights and a Night. Yet I found it as original, and delightful, as any book I've read in years. It consists of fairy tales, yes, but not retold fairly tales. Rather, entirely new tales, abundantly imaginative, gorgeously written, and stunningly and intricately framed.
The outer frame is set in the garden of a Sultan's estate. The Sultan's daughter is about to be married. The Sultan's son has befriended the orphan girl who lives in the garden. She tells him stories written on the inside of her eyelids (and eventually he tells her the stories written on the outside). The Arabesque setting of this frame immediately suggests The Thousand Nights and a Night, and so too does the way the stories do not come to immediate conclusions. But Valente's design is more complex than Scheherazade's: instead of simply ending stories in the middle and completing them the next day, these stories encounter other stories in their midst. So the character in one story will meet a new character with their own story to tell, and the first story will pause as the subsequent tale is recounted ... and so on.