The Weavers are invaluable to the political landscape of Saramyr, linked to every noble family (indeed, to be without one is a serious drawback) as they pass instantaneous information through their magic, allowing for orders to be immediately fulfilled and news to be spread in the blink of an eye. They eradicate the Aberrants, those born with weird powers and skills beyond the abilities of normal people, as they are evil and corrupt beings – or, well, that’s what the people are taught, so by and large, that’s what the people believe.
Firstly, I enjoyed The Weavers of Saramyr (first in the Braided Path trilogy) a great deal. It was fast-paced and entertaining and the world was beautifully rendered – I loved all the world myths and facets of Saramyr’s history. I cared about the characters, even though Kaiku and Tane fell a little flat for me. I feel a little guilty about that; Kaiku became a more interesting character the more I read on, where Tane’s scene with his father was one of my favourites of the entire book. Tane was almost the only male PoV character who wasn’t a completely insane child-murdering drug-smoking villain – Vyrrch, the Weaver. It felt a bit strange. I’m not sure if I’m conditioned from years of reading male heroes and male sidekicks and so on, but it did feel a bit like something was lacking. There are no shortage of good strong female characters but when it comes to good strong male characters there’s only Tane, and he spent most of the time being slightly tedious in comparison to characters like Asara and Mishani.
Not only were the villains too easy to hate (I was getting flashbacks to the Baron in Dune every time Vyrrch even appeared in the book) but there’s a reveal towards the end that has bothered me in the day or two since I finished reading it. It’s fairly spoilerific so I won’t recount it here, and I think most people who read the book won’t know what I’m on about, but suffice to say that this is a book with villains who are all male and heroines who are all female. It doesn’t sit right, and although I was willing to suspend disbelief while I was reading it, in hindsight I find it quite niggling.
What the Weavers of Saramyr is, though, apart from the first in a trilogy, is a wonderful fantasy set in an oriental world, subtly built and wonderfully written. Very few fantasy tropes got included in this one and as a result it was refreshing and fascinating. At times it felt as if Wooding was spending more time explaining the world to us than animating his characters, which was a little weary after a while, but he still managed to maintain the pace and the characters still felt full and real. The plot was enthralling enough to keep me up into the early hours twice in a row – for all I had issues with it, if you want a fantasy more in the Guy Gavriel Kay vein than the George RR Martin, the Braided Path series will be a breath of fresh air.