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Through a Brazen Mirror : The Famous Flower of Servingmen (1989)

af Delia Sherman, Delia Sherman

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2216122,982 (3.5)11
Through a Brazen Mirror is the third book in The Ultra Violet Library, Circlet's imprint of fantasy and science fiction by/for/about lesbian/gay/bi folk. Originally published in 1989 by mass market publisher Ace, the book was marketed as generic sword and sorcery and, in the way of mass market books, disappeared from sight shortly thereafter, before it had a chance to reach an audience who would appreciate its themes.Based on an ancient Anglo-Scots ballad called "The Famous Flower of Serving Men" (a magical, tragic tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man after the murder of her husband), Through a Brazen Mirror tells the tale of the witch Margaret, her daughter Elinor, King Lionel, and the extraordinary William Flowers, who saves the king from doom and Margaret's malevolent magic. With much richness of detail and folklore, Sherman uses the tale to explore issues of attraction, loyalty, and gender identity. For William is Elinor, who as William bonds with the young king and takes charge of,a fate that was to be her undoing.The book, though it takes place in a fictional kingdom, is no cleaned-up fairy tale, and presents a historical picture of life circa 1400. In an age when women are not taught to read or write, both Margaret, as an evil schemer, and Elinor, who must take on a man's name and countenance, fight for their self-determination, each in her own way.… (mere)
  1. 00
    If I Pay Thee Not in Gold af Piers Anthony (infiniteletters)
  2. 00
    The Princess of Flames af Ru Emerson (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Through a Brazen Mirror and The Princess of Flames share a common theme of a woman forced by circumstances to disguise herself as a man, and the somewhat distant third-person style of the narrative, focusing on other characters though the story revolves around them, is also similar. Through a Brazen Mirror is a more bitter book (I hesitate to even call it bittersweet), but it explores the themes and consequences of a woman living as a man in way that was more deep and satisfying to me than Princess of Flames, which takes an easier route and ends up as a straight romance. Both are worth a read.… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 6 (næste | vis alle)
_Through a Brazen Mirror_ fleshes out the ballad "The Famous Flower of Serving-Men". It is compelling from the first few pages, wherein a young man stumbles into the King's kitchens during a rainstorm. He announces he's looking for a job, proclaims his robust health, and promptly faints. But the young man, William Flower, is more than he seems; his quiet diligence causes him to rise quickly through the ranks of the castle servants, until eventually he comes to the attention of the handsome young King, who is questioning his sexuality. Meanwhile, in a mysterious tower in the woods, a sorceress has foreseen that her daughter will cause her death. Since the rules of magic forbid killing one's own blood, the sorceress instead tries to destroy everything around her daughter, releasing plagues and storms upon the land. I'll warn you right now, don't expect a "fairy-tale" happy ending; Sherman's ending is sadder but much truer to life than the ballad's original ending. But she leaves one major plot point open to imagination, softening the tragedy a bit. And everyone is a little wiser at the end. ( )
1 stem mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
An excellent novel all around. DS is one of the very few authors who can create a realistic and consistant medieval world. Issues of gender and sexuality are dealt with with the mores of the time, which are a bit different from our own. Her characters were all multi-faceted characters, none of whom understand themselves. Even the villain is sympathetic. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
A nice little alternative-universe gender-bendy fantasy in which no one gets a happy ending. I approve.

The characterization is a little thin, and the main character, especially, is more opaque than s/he should be to truly win over the reader; the worldbuilding is excellent, clearly done by someone who has thought seriously about the medieval/Renaissance day-to-day experience; the system of magic is quite tidy and elegant. ( )
1 stem cricketbats | Mar 31, 2013 |
A sorceress sets out to kill her own daughter, with far-reaching consequences.

With this book, Sherman has crafted a brief, elegant tale based on an old ballad. It's beautifully written and a pleasure to read. Both the detailed setting and the issues raised are dealt with in a manner that fits with the time period. The story is carefully plotted, mixing current events with flashbacks in a way that helps illuminate the story and create dramatic tension. There's a lot going on beneath the surface, particularly where gender and sexuality are concerned. It's enjoyable stuff.

I waffled back and forth between giving it four stars or three and a half, but eventually decided on the lower rating because the characters never really came alive for me. I never felt like I got inside anyone's head. In that, I found Sherman much like Ursula K. Le Guin. I think I would have gotten more out of the book on an emotional level had Sherman made freer use of William's point of view. As we see events mainly through the eyes of those around him, I didn't feel that I was able to reach the emotional space he occupied.

But other than that, writing was gorgeous, and there was enough going on that I'd certainly like to read this again. I recommend it, particularly to those with an interest in queer issues and history. ( )
1 stem xicanti | Jun 6, 2008 |
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Delia Shermanprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Sherman, Deliahovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Clark, BradleyOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
García Campos, Manuel de los ReyesOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Kushner, EllenIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Siefener, MichaelOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Skinner, CortneyIllustratormedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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Through a Brazen Mirror is the third book in The Ultra Violet Library, Circlet's imprint of fantasy and science fiction by/for/about lesbian/gay/bi folk. Originally published in 1989 by mass market publisher Ace, the book was marketed as generic sword and sorcery and, in the way of mass market books, disappeared from sight shortly thereafter, before it had a chance to reach an audience who would appreciate its themes.Based on an ancient Anglo-Scots ballad called "The Famous Flower of Serving Men" (a magical, tragic tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man after the murder of her husband), Through a Brazen Mirror tells the tale of the witch Margaret, her daughter Elinor, King Lionel, and the extraordinary William Flowers, who saves the king from doom and Margaret's malevolent magic. With much richness of detail and folklore, Sherman uses the tale to explore issues of attraction, loyalty, and gender identity. For William is Elinor, who as William bonds with the young king and takes charge of,a fate that was to be her undoing.The book, though it takes place in a fictional kingdom, is no cleaned-up fairy tale, and presents a historical picture of life circa 1400. In an age when women are not taught to read or write, both Margaret, as an evil schemer, and Elinor, who must take on a man's name and countenance, fight for their self-determination, each in her own way.

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