Where does a firstborn girl fit in a world dominated by men?
When Tiadone was born, her parents had two choices: leave their daughter outside the community to die in the wilds, or raise her as male and force her to suppress all feminine traits. Now, as the first female living as male in her village, Tiadone must prove her father didn’t make a mistake by letting her live.
As her male initiation approaches, Tiadone knows every eye in the community is on her. She desperately wishes to belong and finally be accepted. But at every step, traditional feminine gifts and traits emerge, and the bird she’s been twined with is seen as a sign of evil.
Worse, a Tiadone completes her rites, she finds she is drawn to her male best friend. Confused and desperate, Tiadone tries to become what she must be while dealing with what she indeed has become: a young woman who may be able to stand up to her despotic rules and uncover her real purpose in life.
When I originally started reading this book, I found myself not liking it. The language was odd, the world wasn’t greatly explained and then there was the whole declared male thing because female children aren’t allowed to be the first born in the family. But then, as I kept reading, I got really in to it. Now, it is slightly clichéd in that a girl falls for her boy best friend but it’s immersed in the struggles of being a declared male, the oppression of the rulers and the need to carry out the tradition of living by the cliffs.
What? Cliffs? I’m getting ahead of myself slightly. This race, the R’tan, have a connection with the Rapion birds that live in the cliffs beside their village. When they are born, they offer up the baby’s placenta in exchange for an egg. The egg stays with them all through their lives and when they hatch they must care for the bird until they are old enough and big enough to fend for themselves with the rest of their kind. And the birds make no sound – they have no song and they do not cry out.
For Tiadone, he has been living as a boy his whole life. But, Tiadone was born a girl. He represses all his female urges and wishes desperately to not have these strange feelings towards his friend. When his Rapion egg hatches and bonds with him, he is thrilled – it has accepted his status as a male and it will prove him to his village. And then, his Rapion sings.
Tiadone becomes an outcast, his best friend walks away from him and he makes his way out to the traditional guarding post of the Perimeter in the valley of deserts by himself. Arriving late, he finds himself ostracised for his singing Rapion and paired up for duty with Ratho, his best friend, who still wants nothing to do with him. A series of events leads Tiadone to find his faith in the forbidden Creator Spirit which their oppressors, the Madronians, have replaced with their own religion. It also brings him Ratho, who sees Tiadone as both the declared male and the women he is. Bad luck strikes Ratho however, and he must return to the village before he can fully complete his year long service at the Perimeter.
For Tiadone, life becomes more and more confusing. He has been having visions, something that only females have. He sees his face turning his back on the Creator Spirit and the birth and rejection of his baby sister. Unable to stand that his father won’t declare her male like he did to Tiadone, once Tiadone is freed from Perimeter duty, mere hours after his sister is born, he decides to take his life into his own hands and does as he wishes his father had done – he leaves. Tiadone removes the amulet that declares him male and accepts the femininity that she has been pushing down. She finds her sister on the scree and vows to make a new life for them in the neighbouring lands.
To be honest, at the end I was left with a feeling of ‘that’s it?’ The idea is an excellent one and I have certainly never read a book like it before and did enjoy it.
This is a very unique book and I can’t really recommend anything similar to it from the books that I’ve read. If you like thought provoking books, I think you’ll enjoy this book.
I have given this book a 3/5🌟