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Green by Jay Lake
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765321855
Date: 09 June 2009 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Tom Easton's Review / Steve Sawicki's Review / Show Official Info /

Her name is Emerald, but she knows the stranger who bought her from her father gave her that name. Emerald does not recall her birth name or her mom; all she remembers before sale are a vague memory of a dusty farm and a stronger memory of her father selling her to the pale traveler.

Emerald is taken to Copper Downs, a place of power in the region as the city controls all shipping on the Storm Sea. There she will be trained as a consort to the immortal Duke - city ruler for several centuries. At the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, she learns to be a skilled courtesan and an even more adept assassin who becomes the deadliest blade runner in the area. Emerald thinks being a gem is too haughty for a farmer's daughter so calls herself Green; refusing to respond to that jewel of a name. Over time her reputation as a killing machine grows and everyone fears her even her employer the Duke. Eventually Green rebels; this leads to violence, death, and havoc as she becomes a favorite of the meddling Gods and begins to change the world order. While all this happens, Green simply considers returning home to find her roots.

This is an adventure action-packed fantasy that contains some vivid powerfully written fight scenes in which females prove they are excellent warriors especially in duels. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the stranger buys the farmer's daughter and never decelerates.

However, the novel belongs to the strong fully developed cast. Fans will relish the malevolent immortal Duke who rules over more than just his city as he controls all economics on the aptly named Storm Sea. No one dares confront him until Green grows up, which in this world is sexual awareness. Other support players like the Gods and the warrior women come across as real. The Gods meddle as ancient deities seem to always do. The women are similar to Green as they can kill a mortal sexually or with a sword; in many ways they have been trained to lack feelings; that is where they seem to differ from the title character.

Green owns the novel as readers will be fascinated by her. She grows mentally and physically strong, but from the start maintains one key emotional feature that she took with her when the stranger plucked her from the farm; obstinacy. That stubborn trait makes her the best in bed and in battle as nothing less will suffice. Thus this novel becomes more than a simple coming of age fantasy because Green's greatest strength runs through her maturity. Her tenacity, which can be pig-headed, gives her an edge even against immortals and Gods. Fans will enjoy her exploits as she symbolizes the theme of how you're gonna keep her in the city after she lived on the farm. Although the plot is very straightforward and simplistic, fans will enjoy the adventures of Green, who resolutely and persistently merely wants to go home.

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