Let’s talk Lee, shall we? Today I finished Anackire, book two in the Wars of Vis. It’s a return to the world of The Storm Lord, a generation later. (It took me way too long to parse enough information to figure out how much time had passed and even then, I didn’t do all of the math.) Raldnor, as the Goddess Anackire’s avatar, changed the world when he buried Koramvis beneath an earthquake and brought the Goddess’ massive statue (briefly) to light. Then he vanished into myth and legend, last seen by a young Thaddrian boy as he and his beloved left in a wagon.
Our main protagonist in Anackire is Rem, a young man whose story is eerily similar to Raldnor’s own…althoug he himself is far less aware of these things at first. Rem is a solider, a skilled one, serving Prince Kesarh Am Xai of Karmiss, a different country than Drothar. I felt the lack of a map keenly in this book, and wished that the map I found relatively unnecessary in The Storm Lord had been recopied here.
There are so many threads and characters who become more important than I would have guessed…it’s too much to even begin to summarize beyond what I’ve already said. Especially because I wouldn’t want to spoil things that should be revelations. Suffice to say, the parallels to the World Wars of our own world are apparenty.
It’s also worth noting that The Storm Lord was released in 1976 and this second installment in 1983. I classed that post as fantasy, because that’s how the story read to me. However, Anackire has pointed out to me that this was foolish. I should have marked The Storm Lord as science fiction, because it’s older than the distinction between the two. Lines here and there indicate to me that this story takes place on an alien planet, and humans came from another world to it. In fact it even suggests that Zastis, the red star seen only in the summer that awakes sexual arousal in those of Visian descent, may be the spaceship. And that the Vis may be the descendants of those who flew in it. It’s an interesting touch that I hope will be further explored in later books.
It was fascinating to read Anackire and to pummel my memory for how it intertwined with The Storm Lord. It’s not just that many of the characters from the first book still live, or have children, or both. It’s how stories that faded into darkness are revealed to have continued to their inevitable and proper end. Or not.
Lee also raises some interesting philosophical issues. In this world, divinity is within every person. What people see or experience directly reflects the depth of their belief and faith. That’s not to say that Anackire or any of Her other faces doesn’t select people to work Her will, but a man who believes in nothing sees nothing. The world helps those who help themselves. You get the idea. It’s presented in a compelling and different fashion than I recall seeing elsewhere, and it’s certainly intriguing.
But probably the most interesting way to examine Anackire is through the lens of asexuality. Sex has always been a large portion of these books. How could it not when a significant portion of the population is brought into sexual arousal by the position of a star? And yet we have one or more characters who can be considered asexual. They can also be considered celibate by choice, but that’s less important. There is a character who says outright that yes, he feels Zastis urges like anyone else, but he has learned to not let them rule him. That he isn’t and has never been interested in sex. Admittedly, he has other interests and the power that sex replaces features among them, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is almost certainly a virgin his entire life by choice and inclination. Something that resonates profoundly with me.
At least one other character who was as randy as they came chose to withdraw from a sexual life by the end of the book as well. In this case I read it less as asexuality and more as the realization that there is more to life. That, in fact, sex has been rendered absolutely pointless to her. And yes, you can argue that without sex there is no future generation, but there’s more than enough people to continue the population. Especially in light of the other belief that these people hold.
Let’s just call it reincarnation. They believe that death is not death at all, but the continuation of life. There are people in this story who are thought to be reincarnations of characters from this and The Storm Lord. And, are they? Maybe. But it doesn’t matter if they are or aren’t. In spirit, in role, they are their predecessors’ heirs, regardless of any bloodline. And yet, blood is important. The Lowlanders are far more in tune with their telepathic abilities than any other race. Those who possess Lowland blood, even if they are unaware of it, are more sensitive than those of Visian heritage. Like many other facets of Anackire, this is another push-and-pull duality. It matters, so it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter, so it matters.
There’s one more book in this series, so sayeth isfdb.org. And it’s sitting in my Pile. As things currently stand in the Wars of Vis, I have no idea how Lee can go on from here, but I’m sure she’ll find a way, humans being humans. After all, Raldnor destroyed an empire’s capital by himself, and there were significantly more players in this story. Yet Raldnor’s victory only won a couple decades, maybe a bit more, of peace. We’ll see how long this one lasts…and how long it takes me to figure out the timeline for it.