Thursday, March 7, 2019

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

I was looking forward to new book by Naomi Novik as really liked Uprooted, her earlier book. This is another book which is kind of based on a fairy tale. It is also an independent book, which tells its story and doesn’t need any further parts – even less than the Uprooted. This book is loosely based on the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin.

A young Jewish girl, Miryem, lives with his father and mother. The father is a moneylender, but he has so soft heart that he is almost unable to get any debts paid ever. As her mother falls sick and there is no money for medicines Miryem decides to collect the debts herself. She turns out to be so good in that, and the hard times of the family seem to be over. She collects debts as goods and is very good on selling them on profit. She attracts attention of Staryk, who is a sort of god and ruler of winter and has been expanding his realm, resulting on very cold weather. He leaves a bag of silver for Miryem and wants her to convert it to gold. She manages by making a ring out of the silver and selling it to duke of the town. But then the Staryk brings even larger purse of silver...

The ring which was made from the fairy silver turns out to have some magical properties. Duke’s daughter, Irina, who is plain looking but very sharp gets it. The duke hopes that the magic in ring makes it possible that the tsar will marry Irina enabling the duke to increasing his influence. But the tsar is inhabited by a demon who wants to devour Irina...

The third main character is Wanda, a daughter of a drunk man, who owes a lot of money to Miryem’s father. Miryem gets Wanda to work for her in order to pay off her father’s debts. Wanda is very happy about that, as it enables her to escape her abusive father (and to get properly fed). But her father wants marry her off to an old man and pocket the dowry.
All which is described above is just the starting point for the plot.

The story is complex as is the language. This isn’t a fast read by any means – but an excellent book in spite of all that. The characters are all complex and none is really black or white (well, perhaps excepting the demon, who is very demonic) with real, understandable, motivations. The plot is interesting and it gets more and more interesting until to the end. The weakest part of the book is the beginning which was slow and took its’ time before anything really started to happen. A very good book which was one of my nominations for the Hugo awards.

480 pp.

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