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The Awakeners by Sheri S. Tepper

Review by Caleyna

When I think of Sheri S. Tepper I think of "weird beyond belief, sometimes good, often way too preachy". I don't really know why I even picked up this book. I never would have bought it, but something about seeing a fantasy book at the library made me impulsive.

Boy, am I glad I did!

Mike and I were making fun of the cover text--it was hailed as a "stunning epic." We decided that if we had a nickel for every fantasy book that claimed to be a "stunning epic" we'd be rich.

Amazingly enough, this book was a stunning epic.

Like most Tepper books, this one is beyond weird. The tale takes place in a very strange world where humans explorers have lost all technology many, many years ago. The humans now follow a very strict religion which allows them to live in peace with the native sentient beings of the land. I can't go into any more detail because part of the joy of the book is slowly realizing how the world works.

The "epic" spins around the unraveling of a false religion. We are plunged into a world of careful plots and careless insanity. A world where the wrong move will end in your horrorific death. A world that is not at all friendly to humans.

In addition to a fantastic world, Tepper has created a cast of very well drawn characters--from the rebel slave girl to the love struck sea captain. Each has been carefully brought to life and plays an important part in freeing humans from thousands of years of ignorance and carnage.

As I said before, Tepper has a reputation for loading her books down with preachy enviromentalism and feminism. These themes are definitely included in the book, but unlike some of her other works they don't hit you over the head. Women and men are total equals in the human society but it isn't remarked upon or pointed out. The other sentient race on the planet has problems with both environmental issues and gender equality, but they are dealt with in the context of the story. When themes are there for a reason I can handle them. In fact, I enjoy them.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys something very different from the norm. I suppose the plot isn't that original (small band of rebels try to overthrow the oppressors) but the setting itself is unlike anything I've ever read. I really enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I can't think of a single flaw which means I have to give it five out of five amulets. Maybe I should even add it to my recommended reading list! I never thought I'd be doing that with a Tepper book.

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