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I reread Hall of the Mountain King and Lady of Han-Gilen here. The next two books:

A Fall of Princes - 3+/5. Oh man this book. Um, yeah, let's just say that this was the only book I read as a teenager/young-adult that at all tackled anything even vaguely related to trans issues, and as such it blew my tiny little mind. Of course, being written in the 90's, it didn't do it at all perfectly (for just one example, even with my complete lack of knowledge about these issues, I rather side-eye the way it magically resulted in magical gender-attraction-flip, but on the other hand... well, it was, literally, magic, so), but really, one has to admire that it was done at all, and certainly it was teenager!me's only exposure to this kind of thing at the time, which I think should be worth a lot of points.

Speaking of sexuality, the world in these books is also one of those worlds where people have sex with whatever gender they feel like (most people appear to be bisexual with a preference for one gender), and it's not particularly a big deal for anyone -- this was a good thing for me to be reading as a teenager. Now I will say that on reread, it does rather seem like everyone thinks about sex rather a lot -- and it did not escape me on this reread that the one asexual in this book turns out to be rather creepy. Birth control is also never discussed in this book, although we know from other books that some magical variant of the same exists. Eh, so it goes. It certainly held up better than other books I've reread from this same time period.

The other thing I thought was really interesting about this book was that Tarr went and killed off all the protagonists from her other books. I mean, basically, rocks magics fall everyone dies! (Except for our titular princes, who are needed for the next generation of dynasty.) That also blew my mind as a teenager and I thought it was pretty great.


Arrows of the Sun - 3+/5. I hated this book when I first read it in high school in the 90's. On this reread, I rather liked it -- and for the same reason. This was written about the time when gritty was starting to make its way into the fantasy scene, and the sense of betrayal I had in the 90's when I found that Sarevadin and Hirel hadn't, in fact, lived happily ever after, or at least not forever, and that their grandkids were really rather spoiled brats, and that one of the big conflicts for the protagonist was getting over his equality-based, monogamous love affair and entering into an arranged marriage with a harem -- well. Now that we're in the era of Game of Thrones and Joe Abercrombie, all these things are almost quaint as an exercise of grittiness. (Although I'm now even more whaaaa? about the harem thing. Tarr only barely gets a pass on that because she's a woman; if she were a man I would have rolled my eyes rather more.)
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