“The Shaman’s Apprentice” by B. Muse

This is a story about the constant battle for those who are different to cope with the prejudices of their society. It takes place against the background of a deep and carefully created mythology and metaphysical world. I take that back: metaphysical worlds. The main character moves from one tribe to another, and we learn a whole new set of myths for each people she meets.
It is a beautiful device to start the story when the main character is only five years old and reacts in such an innocent and realistic fashion to her problems. Once she grows up, that innocence disappears, and she acts like most other conflicted teenagers.
Unfortunately, the story gets hung up on the original conflict, and while Jovai progresses through her adventures, in each group she meets she comes up against the same prejudices which prevent her from realizing her potential, like a fly buzzing around a room, banging into one different window after another but getting nowhere.
So at the usual danger point about two-thirds of the way through, when the reader needs a lift to the tension, this book settles. Instead of a new approach to the conflict, we are bogged down in the same old problems of her gender identity and her ally’s distrust of everyone and everything, slowed by a long description of the creation myth of the new tribe she is joining.
After this point the story becomes episodic: good action sequences interspersed with long discussions of philosophy and flashes of personal development, culminating in a love story which is not resolved.
This is the first book in a series, and it ends on a cliffhanger, leaving us with only the suggestion of a solution.
A novel that starts out beautifully but fades in the stretch.
(4 / 5)

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