An Accident of Stars (Manifold Worlds, #1)
When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?

An Accident of Stars (Manifold Worlds, #1) Details

TitleAn Accident of Stars (Manifold Worlds, #1)
Author
FormatMass Market Paperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 2nd, 2016
PublisherAngry Robot
Number of pages496 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Glbt, Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Adult

An Accident of Stars (Manifold Worlds, #1) Review

  • Carly
    June 15, 2016
    Until the death of Google Reader, I was a regular subscriber to Foz Meadows' blog, so I was absolutely delighted to have the chance to read her book. I think I would have been absolutely captivated by Accident of Stars when I was younger. Thematically, it's a coming-of-age story in a creative high fantasy world, and not only are the majority of protagonists teenagers, but the story is also blissfully devoid of love triangles, self-image issues, and school-related angst. Sadly, I've since become Until the death of Google Reader, I was a regular subscriber to Foz Meadows' blog, so I was absolutely delighted to have the chance to read her book. I think I would have been absolutely captivated by Accident of Stars when I was younger. Thematically, it's a coming-of-age story in a creative high fantasy world, and not only are the majority of protagonists teenagers, but the story is also blissfully devoid of love triangles, self-image issues, and school-related angst. Sadly, I've since become rather more jaded. The story is an homage to traditional high fantasy, but with a strongly feminist slant. As an almost exact contrast to standard epic fantasy, almost all of the characters of importance--protagonists, villains, and everything in between-- are female. Pure gender swapping was observable in everything from the matriarchal societies to the female role as warrior to the fact that in this world, it's women who can't ask for directions because "Women were gifted by Sahu with the knowledge of orientation: admitting failure in that respect would open her up to mockery." The message of the story, too, are equally blatant. Possibly because I was so cognizant of Meadows' role as social commentator, the feminism and seemed rather self-conscious to me. It's all fun, but felt so very self-aware that it prevented me from really getting into the flow of the story. Accident of Stars follows something of a good-evil dichotomy of traditional epic fantasy. Our usurping villains are apparently Evil Incorporated™, even though we see very little of their dastardly plans, possibly because they're so much an afterthought to the meat of the tale. At least one of the villains appears to be evil for the sake of evil; the other has a motivation right out of an 1890s morality tale. (view spoiler)[Seriously, what is with all these women and their obsession with childbirth? It's almost like they feel that a woman's life isn't complete without it, yeah? (hide spoiler)] The characters themselves never quite came alive to me, perhaps because so much of their personalities and interactions are driven by the plot. I saw Gwen as the clearest example of this: although born on earth, Gwen creates a life for herself on the other world, including two partners and a child. Yet while she thinks about them often, it's in a plot-driven way: her lovers remain utter nonentities, their entire characters limited to their names and genders. I felt that the characters were shaped by the plot and message, not the other way around. The character I found most intriguing--and, not coincidentally, the only one I felt escaped the good-evil dichotomy-- was Yasha, a dictatorial outcast matriarch whose motives are murky for much of the story.Even though I loved how Meadows eschewed a white default, I was somewhat troubled by the treatment of race and ethnicity. One of my major irritations is when authors reflect an oversimplification of the ethnicities of our world into theirs. In this case, apparently being black means you're Uyun. That's right; apparently your skin tone dictates your nationality, ethnicity, and culture, all in one go. Even though Uyuns live in other cities, their skin color defines them. No matter how self-consciously Meadows tries to explore racial issues, everything in the world she creates seems to depend on skincolor--nationality, culture, religion. Is there no intermixing, no sharing of cultures here? Why does everyone assume the black person from Earth is Uyun and thus apparently from that country rather than the area she lives in? I admit I'm disappointed. I would have expected her to have picked up on how problematic and limiting a skin-color-equals-nationality-equals-culture setup can be.I'm not sure what genre is targeted, but personally I feel that this fits comfortably into the YA framework. Sure, parents may be a little uncomfortable at the idea of polyamory, but nothing is graphic, and the general themes-- empowerment, coming of age, etc-- seem to fit the genre rather well. I think this is the type of book I would have utterly adored as a high-schooler. It creates a world of acceptance and feminism, a sharp contrast to the rigid gender roles so often seen in high fantasy. If you're looking for a modern take on Narnia-style worlds-through-portals, Accident of Stars is worth a look. ~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Angry Robot Books, in exchange for my (depressingly) honest review.~~ Cross-posted on BookLikes.
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  • Sherwood Smith
    August 27, 2016
    I keep hearing third-hand that publishers all believe that portal fantasies don’t sell, and yet when I talk to other readers, a vast percentage of those who like fantasy sigh and wish there were more portal fantasies.As a kid I certainly loved them, except for the endings. I hated the endings wherein the kids arrived back the day they left, like nothing had changed—including their experiences shaping them—and I loathed the utter betrayal of the memories being taken away “for their own good.”Well I keep hearing third-hand that publishers all believe that portal fantasies don’t sell, and yet when I talk to other readers, a vast percentage of those who like fantasy sigh and wish there were more portal fantasies.As a kid I certainly loved them, except for the endings. I hated the endings wherein the kids arrived back the day they left, like nothing had changed—including their experiences shaping them—and I loathed the utter betrayal of the memories being taken away “for their own good.”Well, Foz Meadows takes that weasel ending on with guns blazing in this fantasy in which Saffron Coulter, a teenager bullied by creeps at high school, is rescued by an odd but interesting woman named Gwen. When Saffron goes to find Gwen, she gets swept inadvertently through a portal into another world along with Gwen.I have to admit that once Saffron got to the other world, I found it hard going for a while. There seemed to be no sense of wonder, instead, Gwen unloaded a massive data dump about the world onto Saffron in a way that was so fast, allowing no time for experience much less emotional reaction in story form, that it felt kind of like ticking All the Feminism Boxes. Matriarchy, check: all colors of skin equal or irrelevant, check: polyamory, check: gender variety in love, and women with sexual freedom, check, check, check.But about a quarter of the way through, Saffron has an experience that hit her, and me as reader, like lightning, and the story snapped into urgency. From then on it never let up, as Saffron tries to deal with what happened to her, meets other teens (Zech, the mottled reject between two cultures, and Viya, a spoiled, badly abused runaway queen) as well as some tough old women who are still very much players.Getting justice for Viya, who was betrayed by the slimy king Leoden and his equally betraying favorite Kadeja, drives the rest of the plot, as we encounter magic, female fighters, wanderers whose dedication is to Story, magical beasts, cultural clashes, gods and goddesses.It’s not perfect: that beginning was hard going, at least for me; Gwen’s polyamory seemed tacked on as we don’t ever experience her thinking about her partners much less being with them (view spoiler)[though her feelings as a mother are beautifully delineated (hide spoiler)], and there are one or two minor bobbles, like a lot of other-world names and terms that sound kind of the same, and a poisoned, half-paralyzed character sitting down “gracefully” (I’ve cared for a half-paralyzed person, and briefly been one when I had a stroke, and trust me, there is no grace whatsoever to it, however there might be dignity) but overall this was a compelling tale with a powerful ending that left me gasping, and craving more, even while I was wiping away tears.I hope that Saffron and I will be back soon for the next adventure!Copy received from NetGalley
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  • Bob Milne
    June 14, 2016
    Sadly, as much as I was looking forward to this, I feel as if the cover blurb left some important things out. This was entirely a teenage coming-of-age story, written specifically for a YA market, and I am so very much the wrong audience for that. I liked the idea of it, and the world building seemed interesting (albeit a bit simple, especially in terms of culture/race), but I could not connect with the characters, and the story just wasn't interesting enough to make up for it.
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  • Jacqie
    August 1, 2016
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Take a look at the cover. Do you like it? That will tell you whether or not you'll like this book. See how old-school it looks? How much like one of those pulpy fantasies from the 80's? How vaguely YA? I am still wondering if this book is a re-release, somehow, despite my research, because it reads so VERY MUCH like one of the old 80's portal fantasies. And to be honest, that's what attracted me to the book in the fir I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Take a look at the cover. Do you like it? That will tell you whether or not you'll like this book. See how old-school it looks? How much like one of those pulpy fantasies from the 80's? How vaguely YA? I am still wondering if this book is a re-release, somehow, despite my research, because it reads so VERY MUCH like one of the old 80's portal fantasies. And to be honest, that's what attracted me to the book in the first place. I like portal fantasies for all the reasons that anyone likes them- it's a great what-if, it's fun to put yourself in the "chosen one" position, it's fun to learn about a new world through the eyes of someone like yourself. Unfortunately, I got impatient with this book in a hurry. It really feels like it's channeling old Mercedes Lackey or Robin McKinley or Diane Duane. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but the book took so much time over things that I've read so many times before. There were a couple of chapters of set-up, showing that our heroine and reader stand-in, Saffron, is a smart girl who deals with icky sexist boys all the time and is misunderstood and stressed. Her guide into the new world is called Gwen, herself a world-walker. Gwen feels just like those older characters in the Valdemar books who think a lot and are sensible and mature. By this, I mean that the character's thoughts give you backstory, they show tolerance and kindness, and there's no real way you can dislike this very nice person. It's very clear that the author has put a lot of thought into her portal world. There are at least 3 distinct cultures, all with their own garments, takes on gender roles, and value systems. There's a very complicated political backstory that Saffron bumbles into. But, sadly for a portal world fantasy, I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. After heading into this strange new world, Saffron is wrapped up in a foreign garment to hide her schoolgirl clothes, mounted on a tauntaun-like beast (like on the cover) and made to ride for miles and miles (I have my doubts about riding such a critter for days at a time without having any idea how to direct one) until she gets to a giant city, at which point she is expected to blend in with the locals despite being given no real preparation for anything, because Gwen will answer specific questions but doesn't think to actually educate this girl about this entirely foreign place, so that we the readers can experience just how different everything is without an explanation. The pacing just felt off. You're the author, why put your characters in a place where they have to ride for days to get anywhere but then not use that time to help your fish-out-of -water character acclimate in any way? It felt like the point of this book was to show how you could write a diverse, inclusive fantasy. Saffron is gay and just figuring that out. Most of the characters on this new world have dark skin, and of course very different cultures. At least one society is matriarchal. Polyamory is accepted and indeed required if you are a ruler. And good for the author for deciding to deliberately be inclusive of all these things. To me, though, it felt like while she was trying just a little too hard to subvert every trope she could, she didn't actually know what she wanted to DO with her world. It was so noticeable to me that I didn't enjoy the book much, because most characters felt more like deliberate author choices to be different than they felt like actual people. I had a hard time feeling meaningful relationships between characters and had a hard time latching onto any character to care about because there just wasn't that much to care about, once you were past physical description. At least that's how the book read for me, like a Very Special Episode of A Different World or something.I strongly agree with and want to support authors who are inclusive of different genders, races, and sexual preferences and cultures in science fiction. I think it's hugely important and vital, especially for this genre which is supposed to be able to portray different worlds and a vast universe of possibilities. This particular book was so much about making sure that it ticked all the boxes that it got in the way of making interesting characters or a compelling story. I guess the lesson is that inclusivity should have been the beginning of this book, not the purpose of it.
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  • charlotte
    June 18, 2016
    Galley provided by publisherDNF @ 23%Honestly, watching paint dry would be more interesting than this book. Probably, it was just one of those that wasn't for me. There was nothing about it that I thought was bad per se, but I just didn't connect to any of the characters and the writing bored me.I was actually bored by it from the first page, which is a shame because I was really looking forward to this one. There's portals between worlds, and magic, and a diverse cast (both racially and sexuall Galley provided by publisherDNF @ 23%Honestly, watching paint dry would be more interesting than this book. Probably, it was just one of those that wasn't for me. There was nothing about it that I thought was bad per se, but I just didn't connect to any of the characters and the writing bored me.I was actually bored by it from the first page, which is a shame because I was really looking forward to this one. There's portals between worlds, and magic, and a diverse cast (both racially and sexually), but I just couldn't get past the fact that I was bored to death.But despite the issue I had with this, I would recommend it, on the off chance that someone finds it better than I do (and because everyone needs more women-loving women in their life).
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  • Lisa Coss
    August 20, 2016
    I bought this book because I was excited for a feminist world-hopping fantasy with complex female characters driving the story and fascinating new world to explore...I'm not sure where to begin, because what I found was a book that was an overwhelming frustration and disappointment all around. I almost set it down a dozen different times, and the only thing that had me picking it back up again eventually was the thought of being able to write a true review so others might avoid making the same m I bought this book because I was excited for a feminist world-hopping fantasy with complex female characters driving the story and fascinating new world to explore...I'm not sure where to begin, because what I found was a book that was an overwhelming frustration and disappointment all around. I almost set it down a dozen different times, and the only thing that had me picking it back up again eventually was the thought of being able to write a true review so others might avoid making the same mistake I did and spending money on this. That, and the hope that it might turn around by the end and pleasantly surprise me. Suffice to say, that didn't happen and I've been flinging myself almost violently into some good old Diane Duane comfort fantasy to wash the bad taste away.Because while reading this book I often found myself comparing it to some of Duane's older works, ... but in very unfavorable ways. The characters are uniformly flat and uninteresting, lacking real personalities in favor of a tumblr checklist of tropes and talking points. Meadows brings up at least half a dozen important current social issues, but handles them with such clumsiness that I was left with that sense of frustration I mentioned earlier. Because on their own, the points that she tries to hammer into this story would normally be fascinating to explore: polyamory, racism, religious superiority/clashes, feminism, transgender issues, and the broader lgbtq+ community, etc. - I'm sure there were more, but not enough time was spent on anything to do more than allow the author to pat herself on the back for ticking off the tropes. Worse is when that very shallow mentioning of issues actually turns out to be more harmful than anything else! A great deal of emphasis is put on skin color, and how many of the heroines and people in the book are non-white, yet Meadows also falls into the laziness trap of equating skin color with nationality in her three cultural groups that we're given any insight into... and even then, it's only the Kenans (brown) and Vekshi (white) that we get any real (passing) details on - as is so often the case the Uyun people (black) are handwaved away and glossed over as a convenient group for the heroine Gwen to be associated with while in Kena. Oh yes, and to conveniently provide victims to drive the plots of the other characters.And the characters themselves were very difficult to get behind. When certain characters are injured - repeatedly, and in most cases not really for any good progression of the story - there's no connection to them as there are in other stories; it's more a case of "yes, yes, how many pages of whinging is there going to be before we get back to something vaguely plot related?" and the answer is, all too often "quite a lot." I wanted to loathe Saffron, but it was hard when she was so inconsistent and changed her personality to fit whatever the current plot required her to be and do. She's a classic 'sexy lamp' - as in, you could replace her with a sexy lamp and the story really wouldn't change significantly at all. I ended up feeling a vaguely apathetic hostility in her general direction. And unfortunately most of the characters fell into this trap. They were caricatures driven by the vague plot rather than individuals with motivations and drives of their own. The most interesting characters were the non-POV ones - Yasha, Pix, and Matu - though perhaps they were only interesting because I could use my imagination to ascribe vastly more complex backgrounds and thoughts and schemes going on in their heads than Meadows came up with for any of the POV women.The romances are much more 'told' than 'shown' except for one - and that falls pretty much straight into the 'love at first sight between two people who don't actually know each other but instantly share a connection' kind. It would be great that it's between two women, except that 'love interest defined entirely by her physical attractiveness to the protagonist' is another one of those characters that doesn't actually get a personality and seems to exist solely to fill that slot - and it's very much another 'check the box, aren't I subversive? Yes I am!' kind of slot. From a mechanical perspective, the book doesn't suffer from more than the usual amount of typos, but far more problematic is the utterly haphazard way that Meadow inserts paragraph breaks and jumbles dialogue. It's jarring and continually threw me out of the story with annoyance. It's the sort of freshman mistake that I'd hope any basic editing would have caught long before this went to print. Again, it's the lack of consistency that causes the problem: sometimes there is a break when she switches POVs, or skips in time or space to a different event, but sometimes one paragraph just bleeds into the next and it ends with Zech staring at the ceiling and begins with Gwen fretting on horseback (or something similar) and there's a numerous moments of "wait, what?" to contend with. Dialogue from different characters also is usually split up with paragraph breaks, except when it isn't. There are sometimes two to three segments of dialogue contained within the same paragraph that can be from several people speaking, and no context for what words are from which character - and because the personalities are so all over the place even that doesn't help to make it clear without several rereads. Yet most of the dialogue is split up in the usual way, so when it does get all stuffed into the same paragraph it feels particularly jarring and egregious.The pacing is poor, given to fits and starts, and there is far too much deus machina for the story to feel anything other than sloppily contrived. This book badly needs an editor willing to wield a liberal red pen, because it seems like there should be something worth salvaging in it! ...But what we have instead is a book I'll be using to prop up uneven table legs with, because I wouldn't even donate this to the library book sale, lest someone else end up feeling so betrayed over what should have been so much better. YES it is absolutely important to have more social-commentary-conscious feminist fantasy and science fiction on our shelves! But that doesn't mean we have to be satisfied with sub-par offerings just because the field is still growing. If that means sticking with LeGuin, Duane, Cherryh, and Hines for a while... so be it.
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  • Alexandra
    July 22, 2016
    This book was sent to me by the publisher at no cost. This is the first book of the Manifold World series. It's a portal fantasy and a coming-of-age story, with an Australian schoolgirl following a woman who had helped her - and following her through a rift into another world. Saffron's life is a fairly normal one; it opens with a distinctly unpleasant experience with a boy at school harassing her, and a stranger supporting her as (sadly) almost no one else ever had. In going to thank the woman, This book was sent to me by the publisher at no cost. This is the first book of the Manifold World series. It's a portal fantasy and a coming-of-age story, with an Australian schoolgirl following a woman who had helped her - and following her through a rift into another world. Saffron's life is a fairly normal one; it opens with a distinctly unpleasant experience with a boy at school harassing her, and a stranger supporting her as (sadly) almost no one else ever had. In going to thank the woman, her adventures start - and almost immediately they go bad, showing very early on that this is not going to be an easy experience for Saffron (although the language barrier is dealt with through a particularly convenient piece of magic). She eventually discovers that she's wandered into a state whose politics are currently rather grim, and has fallen in with people who aren't exactly the Most Popular Citizens. And then an escapee from the castle ends up finding them, and things get even more fraught, and adventures ensue.Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is the sheer diversity of the characters. Most of the leads are female, with a couple of men. There's a wide variety of sexual orientation, from bi to someone I think is aromantic. There's a wide variety of skin colours - you know, like in the real world; a trans character; those who are religious and those who aren't; the magical and the not; old and young; parents and not; and all the other personality quirks that individuals humans can have, from characters with sunny dispositions to those who consistently make you want to leave the room when they enter.In terms of narrative, there is a lot going on in this book. There's the experiences of Saffron, who has to deal with the strange world she's in and the physical changes forced on her - how will she explain these when/if she gets home? (I was forcefully reminded of Seanan McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway.) There's Gwen, the world-walker, trying to manage this new girl as well as her own allegiances and secrets. There are a lot of conflicting allegiances because there's a huge amount of politicking going on: both of the states where most of the action takes place are in difficult positions regarding their leaders, with people trying either actively or passively to change the status quo. Sometimes, indeed, I felt like there was too much going on. I liked that Saffron is forced to deal with the politics of the world she's entered, and that the places she's in are not presented as the only states, and that politics can be confusing. But sometimes I felt like the political situation wasn't explained clearly enough - or, actually, that the problems with the system or the way that people were using the system weren't explained clearly enough for me to care to the level that I ought. It's a fast-paced story, problems rarely being dealt with before more crop up; there's magic that is difficult to use and requires training; there's a bit of romance but not too much (for my tastes!). There's a bit of traveling-around-the-place and camping but mostly it's urban, and there's a variety of perspectives used to present the narrative too. I did enjoy reading it, although I'm not left desperately waiting for the next one. The book largely stands by itself - there's a bit of cliffhanger at the end but in terms of the main narrative, it's largely complete, which I appreciated.
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  • Mike
    May 28, 2016
    Portal fantasy seems to be making a comeback, which is fine by me; I'm not sure why it fell out of fashion in the first place. This one, as you would hope from a new book, does something fresh with it, primarily by splitting the point of view between several different women: a teenage white Australian who goes through the portal more or less by accident, a middle-aged black British woman who's been "world-walking" for a while and is already familiar with the other world, and a couple of even you Portal fantasy seems to be making a comeback, which is fine by me; I'm not sure why it fell out of fashion in the first place. This one, as you would hope from a new book, does something fresh with it, primarily by splitting the point of view between several different women: a teenage white Australian who goes through the portal more or less by accident, a middle-aged black British woman who's been "world-walking" for a while and is already familiar with the other world, and a couple of even younger teenagers from the other world itself. All of them suffer and struggle, and all of them are deeply impacted by the traumatic events that occur, much more so (and more realistically so) than one usually sees in fantasy. It was refreshing and enjoyable to see diverse characters; societies in which women had a lot of agency; and perspectives of older as well as younger characters in what was, in many other ways, a classic portal fantasy. If I had a reservation about the book, it was that so many of the plot turns, especially early on, occurred by coincidence. One could adopt the perspective of the inhabitants of the other world and credit the gods with manipulating events (though there's no clear indication that the gods are real and can do this), and there is also a sect of mystics who do deliberately manipulate events (but can't be credited with most of the coincidences). I found it hard, though, to avoid the feeling that the author was just forcing the plot. Now, it's done subtly; the characters are not handed easy answers, which is how inexperienced authors often commit this mistake. On the contrary, the characters end up a lot more battered, physically and emotionally, than the average fantasy cast. Nevertheless, there is a high degree of coincidence required to get everyone together and moving in the right direction. This either stopped after a while, or I stopped noticing it, though. I was caught up in the story's flow, even though I was reading an ARC which contained a few not-very-insightful comments from an editor and a good many typos (which I'm sure will not appear in the published version). The language, and the craft, are competent in general, and I cared about the characters, their struggles, and their often-at-risk wellbeing. I'll be watching for further books in what looks set to be an enjoyable series.I received an advance copy via Netgalley for review.
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  • Cathryn
    September 6, 2016
    This story did so many things that ticked all of my boxes! It delved into the difficulties of magically learning a language without necessarily having the cultural context for it, which was fascinating. It showed communities of women of all ages, working together – and sometimes against each other – and getting stuff done. It spent time thoughtfully exploring the impact of trauma has, particularly on young people – characters are given lots of space to deal with and begin to recover from their e This story did so many things that ticked all of my boxes! It delved into the difficulties of magically learning a language without necessarily having the cultural context for it, which was fascinating. It showed communities of women of all ages, working together – and sometimes against each other – and getting stuff done. It spent time thoughtfully exploring the impact of trauma has, particularly on young people – characters are given lots of space to deal with and begin to recover from their experiences. The worldbuilding was magical. The characters were wonderful. The book explored the complexity and bittersweetness of a life lived between worlds. I’m waiting impatiently for the next book in the series.
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  • Bibliotropic
    May 13, 2016
    (Full review here: https://bibliotropic.net/2016/07/07/a...)I flat-out adore the world that Meadows created here, with its rich unique cultures and language and clothing styles. I want to read more things set in it, to spend more time there with characters I’ve grown to know and appreciate. The story is phenomenal, a brilliant fantasy with fascinating characters and an overarching plot that’s full of action and intrigue and the world being on a precipice, on the knife-edge of revolution while th (Full review here: https://bibliotropic.net/2016/07/07/a...)I flat-out adore the world that Meadows created here, with its rich unique cultures and language and clothing styles. I want to read more things set in it, to spend more time there with characters I’ve grown to know and appreciate. The story is phenomenal, a brilliant fantasy with fascinating characters and an overarching plot that’s full of action and intrigue and the world being on a precipice, on the knife-edge of revolution while the reader sits on the revolutionaries’ shoulders. Meadows is on par with the modern fantasy greats here, and this is a spectacular novel that you can’t afford to miss.
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  • Kdawg91
    May 31, 2016
    Beautiful storytelling, a stunning world and concept, slow tale to start but the intrigue picks up. My issues are few and they are purely my issues. I don't understand all the polyamory stuff, lately everything I read seems to have huge families, but that will not affect your enjoyment of the story.Thanks to the robot overlords at Angry Robot for the ARC, this is a great introduction into an amazing world, check it out most definitely.
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  • Maryam
    December 4, 2016
    Review originally published on The Curious SFF Reader As I mentionned in last month Wrap-Up I wanted to read lighter books and since I didn’t make a TBR I had the complete liberty to read whatever I wanted (which is a bit unusual for me, I like to plan everything because it reassures me). Because of that I decided to randomly browse the books on my Kindle and I spotted An Accident of Stars that I pre-ordered months ago after reading Coral Bones, her fantastical retelling of The Tempest that I re Review originally published on The Curious SFF Reader As I mentionned in last month Wrap-Up I wanted to read lighter books and since I didn’t make a TBR I had the complete liberty to read whatever I wanted (which is a bit unusual for me, I like to plan everything because it reassures me). Because of that I decided to randomly browse the books on my Kindle and I spotted An Accident of Stars that I pre-ordered months ago after reading Coral Bones, her fantastical retelling of The Tempest that I read as a part of the Monstrous Little Voices anthology.I loved Coral Bones because of how Meadows portrayed female characters, gender and sexuality and I thought that reading about feminism in a portal fantasy could be quite interesting. The cover of An Accident of Stars is incredibly cheesy good lord, this book is fantastic.First of all, it opens up with Saffron Coulter an ordinary high school students being harassed by one of her classmates. No one seem to caresabout that even the school administrators because for them “it’s a normal behaviour for a young man”. Saffron can’t cope with how normalized sexism is but but unexeceptedly she receives help from a mysterious woman that she mistakes for a professor. In order to thank her, Saffron follows this woman but ends up falling through a portal and, of course, her life is turned upside down.Just after reading this opening scene, I had a good feeling about this book. First of, I am in an engineering schooml which means that my school is composed of about 70% of men and I am surrounded by every day sexism. Most of the girls at my school do not think that “Women are terrible with computers”, “girls just want to work in biology” or “Why are you upset, do you have your periods?” are sexist remark but I do and everytime I heard them, it’s hard not to loose my shit. So when I started this book, I just thought “Well at least, I am not the only one to feel this way!”.At first, the plot doesn’t seem particularly original, a crazy and treacherous man is on the throne and of course, one of the person who can help is our hero, Saffron. I don’t have anything against this trope but still, nothing new. What completely sold this book to me is how exciting it was, how much I could relate with all the characters and how much I wanted them all to succeed. This book followed several characters and I care for all of them, even the ones that were a bit annoying because I could understand why they were acting this way.This is not marketed as YA but if I knew someone that had a 11 to 16 years old daughter, I would push this book into their hands. I mean, it could be enjoyed by everyone but I wish I could have read this when I was younger. This book doesn’t have any self-image issue, any love triangle, any angst, any of the things that are so in vogue currently in the YA genre.This book does have several romances between person that love and respect each other a lot and it’s a pleasure to read. In this book you’ll find heterosexual, lesbian and polyamorous relationships. One of the main point of this book is to show that, as long as everything is consensual, you can have relationships with anyone and that it shouldn’t be judge by anyone because it doesn’t concern them. The main character is openly bisexual (with a slight preference for girls) and it is never seen as problem for her because it doesn’t have any reason to be. She never once puts in question her sexuality because that’s a part of who she is and she finds it normal. I just wish more books were like that.One of the other thing that I loved about this book is that An Accident of Stars is, without a doubt, an hommage to traditional epic fantasy yet with its own twists. For example, most of the characters in this books are female characters which is refreshing. However, it doesn’t mean that it is builds around a reverse sexism, the male characters in this novel are awesome and they are an important part of the story too.The first quarter of this book could be a bit hard for some reader because it’s true that a lot of info is thrown at the reader. I didn’t mind it whatsoever because I’ve read my share of epic fantasy and I am pretty quick to adapt to new worlds but I have seen this complain in several reviews on Goodreads, so I figured I would still mentionned it.In my opinion, this book deserves a million of stars but that I might have been because it was the right time to read, it’s hard to “judge” five books, I don’t know about you but when I rate a book five stars, I always ask myself if I would still give it the same rating after a reread and of course, it’s hard to know. It’s why I first rated this a 4.5* but after a bit of reflexion, I can’t think to any reasons why I doesn’t deserve a five stars. So a five stars it is!Highly recommended.
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  • Ju Transcendancing
    February 27, 2016
    An eARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is presented as part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016.An Accident of Stars is a very solid debut novel from Foz Meadows, it truly brings epic and portal fantasy to life. This book is equal parts the start of an epic story and a coming of age story. This is also a story that disabuses you of the notion that nothing *truly* bad can happen to your heroe(s) in a novel, be An eARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is presented as part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016.An Accident of Stars is a very solid debut novel from Foz Meadows, it truly brings epic and portal fantasy to life. This book is equal parts the start of an epic story and a coming of age story. This is also a story that disabuses you of the notion that nothing *truly* bad can happen to your heroe(s) in a novel, because there are consequences experienced by protagonist Saffron, and other key characters throughout the novel. There's a depth and realism to the story because of this commitment in storytelling, and yet it doesn't ever approach 'grim dark' to me, just solid storytelling.One of the things I love most about this book is the sheer diversity of characters in this novel, they come from so many different backgrounds, they have different experiences of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, skin colour, cultural backgrounds. Rather than being mashed together uncomfortably, these elements come together quite seamlessly in the central rebel compound where Saffron finds herself in the beginning of the novel. I loved that an older woman, who was far from perfect was the rebel leader. There are so many women in this book, and the male characters all came with personalities that I am interested in, with stories of theirs I wanted to explore - rarer than you might suppose these days. This novel is a triumph to diversity - I'm sure there are improvements, nothing can be everything to everyone but I think this makes a good effort at doing so.There is a lot going on in the story, as the readers we share in Saffron's confusion as things unfold - twists and turns in how things affect the rebels, the potential impact on Saffron her self. There's physical, emotional and political battles involved in this story - it's multifaceted which gives the story depth, things happen do not happen in a vacuum or in isolation. The storytelling well thought out and executed, making this a satisfying read.If I have one criticism it is that the book is a debut novel and the writing does reflect this, I found it clunky in places, and in others it threw me out of the reading experience. This is a minor criticism though as overall it is a well polished first novel, and everyone is allowed to grow over time. There is always a starting point - this is an excellent one. I also thought this book was nicely self-contained, you don't *have* to read the next book if you don't want to or don't like series. There's the opening and minor-cliffhanger for more story but you could absolutely ignore that without any issue. I am looking forward to the next book though because I'm interested to see where the characters go from here and how the broader story unfolds.
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  • zjakkelien
    February 19, 2017
    This book was really excellent. It has a good solid story (it's a portal fantasy), but its strengths are the characters and character development. For one, I can't remember ever having read a book with so many non-traditional characters. To start with, there are a tremendous number of women. Women of all sorts and sizes, many with competence, bravery, and character. And not to forget, positions of power. Then there are people of varied shades. Then, even more noteworthy, characters who are lesbi This book was really excellent. It has a good solid story (it's a portal fantasy), but its strengths are the characters and character development. For one, I can't remember ever having read a book with so many non-traditional characters. To start with, there are a tremendous number of women. Women of all sorts and sizes, many with competence, bravery, and character. And not to forget, positions of power. Then there are people of varied shades. Then, even more noteworthy, characters who are lesbian, aromantic, and transgender. A second positive point is the treatment of emotion. Yes, we have a classical portal fantasy with a story that may be solid, but doesn't stand out that much. For once though, there is room for crying, for trauma, and for bewilderment. It isn't ignored; the characters feel lost some times, even the ones originating from the world the story takes place on. It feels realistic, and, well, mature. I am very curious about the next instalment.
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  • Bogi Takács
    February 14, 2017
    Review very soon IY"H.
  • Verechnaya
    June 14, 2016
    Try as I might, I just couldn't connect with this book— Something that is likely due to the fact that I'm pretty far removed from the target audience, but still. The setting didn't really catch me, although I did appreciate that there were many women in it (despots, still, but then again I've lost hope of seeing anarchosyndicalist communes in fantasy). Other problem that's a common trend with fantasy: I felt there were far too many fantasy names with little original content behind. Nothing was p Try as I might, I just couldn't connect with this book— Something that is likely due to the fact that I'm pretty far removed from the target audience, but still. The setting didn't really catch me, although I did appreciate that there were many women in it (despots, still, but then again I've lost hope of seeing anarchosyndicalist communes in fantasy). Other problem that's a common trend with fantasy: I felt there were far too many fantasy names with little original content behind. Nothing was particularly new, yet we were served with a plethora of strange names that really dragged down reading comprehension. All the talk about polyamory (which I'm biased against, I'll admit) felt really forced (but I suppose it's good to have it, at least to introduce us to their future relationship). There were too many characters to my taste, some felt unnecessary and by the first half of the book, the story hadn't progressed much— the plot progression is slow, far too slow to my taste, and it moves with a lot of deus ex machina and frankly implausible coincidences. Still, the writing is fluid and pretty good, I just feel the whole plot could be a little tighter. I'll try to read it again some other time though, maybe when I'm more on the lookout for what this series has to offer.
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  • Michael Underwood
    September 10, 2015
    An exciting character-driven fantasy with a strong ensemble, intriguing magic, and all of the feminist badassery you would expect from Foz Meadows. I'm very excited to share this series with readers next year.
  • Santeri
    June 17, 2016
    !CONTAINS SPOILERS!This book was provided through NetGalley from the publisher for free. It has not affected the review or my opinions in any way.I have to admit that I was really fascinated with this book at first. Partly this was due to the fact that it had gotten some pretty good ratings on Goodreads, but also the story seemed decently interesting and at least semi-original. I haven't read that many portal-fantasy books, and An Accident of Stars seemed like it would be a good representative o !CONTAINS SPOILERS!This book was provided through NetGalley from the publisher for free. It has not affected the review or my opinions in any way.I have to admit that I was really fascinated with this book at first. Partly this was due to the fact that it had gotten some pretty good ratings on Goodreads, but also the story seemed decently interesting and at least semi-original. I haven't read that many portal-fantasy books, and An Accident of Stars seemed like it would be a good representative of this genre. It hardly turned out so.Maybe it's easier to start with the good parts. I really did like the Narnia-like idea that a young girl gets teleported to a magical fantasy-medieval sword-and-magic world, even if wasn't that original. What's more, it made it a little bit more believable that the portal, which led Saffron to the other world, wasn't just there, existing bluntly without an explanation, as it is in Narnia (?). Also, I liked the fact that the protagonist(s), mainly in this case Saffron, didn't just survive through the whole journey unscathed. The fact that Saffron was irreversibly injured, and profaned even, gave the story a little more credibility and showed that getting mixed up with alien cultures or worlds isn't always very safe. Maybe a little sadistically, I really liked the hard drop from the somewhat safe teenage habitat to the harsh alien world, where one could get their fingers snapped off, were they not careful. As for the plot itself, there is really not much good to say, so I'll come to that later. But I'll just say that I gave the book three stars, instead of two, just because the ending was vaguely satisfying.Ugh, then the critique, and there is quite a lot of it, so I'm not going to go into it in-depth, but I'll try to deal with the most flagrant parts. Well, first of all, the book was tremendously boring – I mean reeeeeeeeally boring. There was absolutely no character development. This is because the characters, especially the main character, Saffron, were just outright dull. Her character had no depth at all, she hardly had opinions and she seemed kind of nonchalant. At first, she seemed to worry about her family, but quite quickly she got immersed in the events of the weird new world, and she only ostensibly cared about them. Perhaps because she kind of knew she would eventually get back to Earth. The aforementioned character development was more or less discreetly replaced by physical 'development'. That is, during the book Saffron just suffers from more and more severe injuries, which supposedly 'hardens' her as a person. There is never any development in her opinions or views of the world, nor is there any moral dialogue inside her head about anything, except that one when she happens to kill someone along with a horse. There are some occasions where she goes through vibrant and strong emotions, but they only concern minor things, and not the whole idea of being in an alien world. Also, what amplifies the feeling of imperviousness of Saffron's character, is the fact that she is completely irrelevant to the events of Kena. Just think about it: What if Saffron had never come to Kena? How had the events changed? Really, the only thing that could've changed is how Zech would've gotten into the Council of Queens, or whatever it was. Here Saffron acts only as a Deus ex machina – for no good reason just agreeing to be Zech's proxy, visibly the author just needed her to be somehow part of the plot. Not to mention how Deus ex machina the Shavaktiin were, when they arrived just in time to save the main characters. The saddest thing is that the author makes this even worse by 'throwing' Saffron out from Kena, so it feels even more like Saffron was just an observer in the events of Kena. In addition to these flaws, there are numerous small things I'd like to mention, but I'll just mention few of them before I conclude this. The ”climax” was saved for the last ten or five pages of the book. The capturing of Kadeja was supposed to be the grand finale of the book, but then again Saffron wasn't even there to witness it. Perhaps, then, the homecoming of Saffron was the long awaited finale, but then there was no describing of how the family really took her return, but instead Saffron explained in detail how she was supposedly captured and managed to escape. One small detail also caught my attention, mostly during the first half of the book. It was many times stated that going back to Earth after being lost for days would raise questions, especially since she had missing fingers and hair, let alone tattoos and scars. But whatever visible injuries she might have had, what is the worst thing that can happen? What I mean is that surely no one could conclude that she has been in another universe just because she has no good explanation for her injuries. Even if she just refused to explain her injuries or abnormal appearance. I believe it's not a crime to refuse telling where she had been.All in all, An Accident of Stars is a somewhat interesting idea, but it isn't particularly well told. The plot is dull and characters duller, and it seems like the book isn't quite sure, whether to build a high fantasy world or to be a simple fantasy novel playing where the real world and fantasy playfully cross. The magic system and the political aspect in the fantasy setting are OK, but there's really not much more to it than that.Would I recommend the book? Sure, give it a go, maybe you'll like it. But, if you're looking for a fantasy novel where elven and human heroes fight evil wizards and orcs, and every other sword has a cool-sounding name, then this book isn't for you.Also, note that I'm not a native, so I'm sorry for any grammatical mistakes.
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  • Chris
    May 17, 2016
    *copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review*An Accident of Stars is the first in Foz Meadows’ Manifold Worlds series. It’s a rather clever portal fantasy, with one of the protagonists being dragged through from our world into another. That world is complex, layered and vivid. It’s a book with strong characterisation; the central cast feel like people, with all the virtues and flaws that entails. They’re wrapped up in a plot which begins puzzlingly, but takes hold of the reader as the narrative *copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review*An Accident of Stars is the first in Foz Meadows’ Manifold Worlds series. It’s a rather clever portal fantasy, with one of the protagonists being dragged through from our world into another. That world is complex, layered and vivid. It’s a book with strong characterisation; the central cast feel like people, with all the virtues and flaws that entails. They’re wrapped up in a plot which begins puzzlingly, but takes hold of the reader as the narrative branches out – and by the end, carries a strong emotional weight alongside an intriguing narrative. The world is one filled with imaginative diversity. There are nations sat in a state of détente, each waiting for the others to show weakness. There’s magic, spread across ethnicities and societies, from quick healing to ripping holes in the fabric of reality. There’s staff-wielders with a penchant for witty repartee, and acolytes trying to facilitate what they perceive to be the narrative of the world. In short, there’s rather a lot going on. Though sometimes it felt easy to drown in all of the detail. Largely it works to build a consistently fascinating narrative space. There’s some wonderful cultural signifiers – whether someone has the hair cut in a particular style, the way a name indicates a social space as well as a lineage. There’s some great discussion of relationships as well – a dynamic of community, of wives and husbands sharing each other, with relationships covering a multitude of degrees. It’s cleverly, sympathetically, originally done. The institutions of this world aren’t our own, but they feel organic, for all that. The author has clearly put some serious thought into the way that their world is put together, and the reader is the beneficiary of that decision. The characters – well, to be honest, there’s rather a lot of them, starting with Saffron, our teenager-turned-world-traveller. The opening was a bit tough, struggling along with Saffron as she encounters a great many people with several languages, and gets rather a lot of names thrown at her. Still, my confusion seemed to subside alongside hers . Saffron is unhappy, confused, and trying to find a place in our world, which teeters from unpleasant to just about bearable. The author shows us this, lets us feel Saffron react to abuse and a history of unpleasantness, and then throws her and the reader in at the deep end. Watching Saffron attempt to articulate who she is, what she wants, and see her try and shape her own life as well as affect those around here – it’s thought provoking, touching, and emotionally authentic all at once. As a protagonist, Saffron is thoroughly enjoyable to read – and often more so.Her relationships with the supporting cast absolutely sparkle, especially that with another world-walker, Gwen. Gwen is older and at least somewhat wiser than Saffron, having made what she feels are some serious mistakes before the opening of the book. She has a confident face, over a slightly more turbulent spirit, and her gentle shepherding of Saffron, and her own self-analysis, is insightful and incisive. Saffron, in her wild confusion and gradual acceptance, feels in some ways an avatar for the reader, and also a person in her own right. Gwen, as a contrast, is cooler, more convinced of the art of the possible, less an idealist – and gives us another perspective on Saffron and her situation. Their relationship is emotionally nuanced, and holds a kind of quiet depth, making their scenes very compelling. Then there’s Zech, perhaps Saffron’s first friend in the world of Kena. Her prose is quicksilver, a sparkling maelstrom of ideas, bouncing off of Saffron for a new perspective. Zech is exhausting to read, but absolutely wonderful – a fireball of a character, and one woho builds a relationship of equals with Saffron, alongside Gwen’s mentorship. Zech is curious, clever, and incorrigible, convinced of her own immortality – and great fun, dragging Saffron into situations and then (typically) out of them. She’s got her own issues as well – and her unravelling of these alongside Saffron make for some tender, heartbreaking, beautifully emotional moments. They’re backed by a strong supporting cast. I wanted to see more of Zech’s guardian, and of Gwen’s old coterie. The villains don’t get as much screen time as I’d like, and it would have been interesting to explore their motivations more fully. Still, there was enough there to carry the narrative, so it’s a relatively minor complaint.Speaking of the narrative – after the early acclimatisation to new terms, phrases, characters and cultures, the text rattles along very nicely. There’s some personal things at stake , relationships and antipathies which kept me turning the pages. There’s also some impressive magic, and some unflinchingly drawn combat scenes. The stakes are high, and the risks the characters take are appropriate to those stakes; despite that, the narrative feels very reflective and insightful. Overall, it’s a deeply compelling story, and one that I’m going to be thinking about for some time.On which note – is it worth reading? Unequivocally yes. There’s some initial hurdles, but the world is grand, detailed, complex and well crafted. The characters carry humanity, depth, and a startlingly appropriate sense of strangeness. The plot seeps into your bones. It’s excellent stuff, and worth your time.
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  • Coolcurry
    February 15, 2016
    An Accident of Stars is a queer feminist portal fantasy told from the point of views of four female characters. Saffron is a high school student in Australia who follows a strange woman through a portal and enters another world, Kena. While born on earth, Gwen has been traveling to Kena for over thirty years and considers it home. She even became involved in local politics and made an unwise choice in supporting a man called Leoden in his bid for the throne. Now Gwen and her allies are hunted by An Accident of Stars is a queer feminist portal fantasy told from the point of views of four female characters. Saffron is a high school student in Australia who follows a strange woman through a portal and enters another world, Kena. While born on earth, Gwen has been traveling to Kena for over thirty years and considers it home. She even became involved in local politics and made an unwise choice in supporting a man called Leoden in his bid for the throne. Now Gwen and her allies are hunted by him, including Zech, the adopted granddaughter of an exiled matriarch, and Viya, Leoden’s runaway consort.An Accident of Stars hits a lot of high points for me. For one, it has a greater focus on the relationships between female characters than almost any fantasy novel I’ve seen. I particularly loved the mentor/student relationship between Gwen and Saffron. While the official blurb frames Saffron as the protagonist, I think that’s belittling the role played by the other POV characters. Saffron serves as a clear reader insert but all four women have their own story lines and no one receives the clear majority of page time.I also enjoyed the world building of An Accident of Stars. It has that vivid quality that makes the world practically leap off the page. While it’s not as strange or otherworldly as some fantasies I’ve read, Meadows did put thought into making Kena unique and different from the rest of the SFF section of the bookstore. For instance, the primary social ties in Kena are based around polyamorous marriages, which plays a role in the political intrigue. All in all, An Accident of Stars feels fresh and original.There’s also a huge amount of diversity to the book’s cast. Gwen is the first explicitly, the-word-is-used, aromantic protagonist I’ve encountered. Saffron also explicitly identifies herself as bisexual, which seems to be considered the norm for Kena. Beyond orientation, Gwen’s a middle aged black woman who is amazingly badass and gets to carry large parts of the story and Kena itself consists mainly of brown skinned people.Unlike a lot of the big name recent fantasy series, An Accident of Stars is not grimdark. That doesn’t mean that there’s not pain and suffering – Saffron encounters some pretty quickly upon her arrival to Kena, and the battle scenes are harrowing sequences that scar the protagonists both physically and mentally. However, for all that An Accident of Stars never has the unrelenting darkness of grimdark fantasy. Our protagonists are not anti-heroines but heroines. They may be flawed, but at heart they are good people who I grew to like and care about.This isn’t to say that An Accident of Stars is without its flaws. While functional, the plotting was never compelling and the story lacked a sense of urgency. Leodan was not an interesting villain. We’re told of some of the horrible things he’s done, but for the most part he just feels bland. On the other hand, his consort Kadeja establishes herself as a dangerous character from her very first scene. Still, the ending of the book gives me hope that the plotting could amp up in future installments. The only other grievance I have to point out is that Saffron sometimes felt like a vehicle for worldbuilding info dumps.The ending of An Accident of Stars left me much more emotional than I would have suspected upon the beginning, thanks to a surprise plot twist that I honestly did not see coming and that leaves me yearning for the second book. An Accident of Stars is one of the most promising starts to any series right now, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.I received an ARC of An Accident of Stars from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Tsana Dolichva
    January 1, 2017
    An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows is the first book of the Manifold Worlds series and, as the series title kind of suggests, is a portal fantasy novel. It, loosely speaking, follows the story of a teenaged Australian girl when she follows someone through a portal and into a world of magic.The most interesting thing about An Accident of Stars was the way in which the story is told both from the perspective of the teenaged Saffron going through a portal for the first time (and, of course, not fi An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows is the first book of the Manifold Worlds series and, as the series title kind of suggests, is a portal fantasy novel. It, loosely speaking, follows the story of a teenaged Australian girl when she follows someone through a portal and into a world of magic.The most interesting thing about An Accident of Stars was the way in which the story is told both from the perspective of the teenaged Saffron going through a portal for the first time (and, of course, not finding what books like Narnia and Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz promised) and from the perspective of Gwen, a woman in her fifties who is now a veteran of "worldwalking" and people who travel between worlds are known in the book. On the one hand, Saffron has an almost standard reaction to being in a fantasy world, although her thoughts are more culturally sensitive than some of the older works would have been. On the other hand, Gwen understands what Saffron is going through but from a standing of "been there, done that" as well as a standing of much greater maturity and world experience, tells the story from a different view. If Saffron is the main character, Gwen is watching the story and putting things into context that Saffron can't (immediately).That said, Gwen is certainly still one of the protagonists, watching the story while being a part of it. Which is ironic given the religious sect based around doing just that. And is kind of meta when you start to think about things which are spoilers.The third protagonist is Zech, a girl more or less both Kenan and Vekshi (details being spoilers) who gets involved first with Saffron when the Earth girl is lost and alone in a strange world, and then in larger world events. Zech was cool and I liked that despite her being 14 and two years younger than Saffron, the two were able to be friends without age mattering too much (except for spoilers).This was a very enjoyable read. I'm not sure I'd call it fun because a lot of bad things happen to Saffron. Bad things which are pretty par for the course in fantasy books, but which become extreme trauma when put into the context of happening to an average contemporary Earthling teenager. I liked the way the book highlighted how horrible some fantasy tropes are when not normalised by all the characters they're happening to. Like how traumatic a short battle can be, for example. Overall, I didn't have any complaints except maybe that sometimes Saffron's inner thoughts were more socially aware than I would have expected, but not implausibly so.The book ended a little abruptly and with very little having been resolved. I am very keen to read the next book and I'm hoping I won't have to wait too long. The publisher's website indicates that it's coming in May, so not too long away. I highly recommend An Accident of Stars to fans of portal fantasy and to any readers looking for a feminist fantasy read.4.5 / 5 starsYou can read more of my reviews on my blog.
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  • Sam
    November 19, 2016
    I am not normally a fan of portal fantasies, the smugness of the 'and they all lived happily ever after' pisses me off in a way that the average romance does not, we never really see any long term ramifications for the world walking and this is one of the things that made An Accident of Stars such a great book for me, being able to see the ramifications long-term in Gwen contrasted with the freshness of Saffron's dilemma.Saffron's voice is authentic; it has been rare as a reader to come across I am not normally a fan of portal fantasies, the smugness of the 'and they all lived happily ever after' pisses me off in a way that the average romance does not, we never really see any long term ramifications for the world walking and this is one of the things that made An Accident of Stars such a great book for me, being able to see the ramifications long-term in Gwen contrasted with the freshness of Saffron's dilemma.Saffron's voice is authentic; it has been rare as a reader to come across fantasies with Australian characters that sound genuinely like the people that I know (yes, I am Australian) and not like bad Crocodile Dundee rip-offs, even with other Aussie authors this is something that many of them miss.In terms of story, the plot is relatively fast moving, multi-layered and complex in terms of politics which is nicely fleshed out with multiple POVs. Also, this book literally made me cry, like seriously I know I complained about happy endings but ripping out my heart wasn't expected in quite that way. I think the last book that made me cry this much was Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta's final chapters. The main reason for the 5 stars is this was a book that I needed as a teen. I needed to see myself in the fiction I was reading, in all the raw, petty, ugly aspects of young adulthood and Foz Meadows does that, without it being too preachy and message-fic. I highly recommend this book and am impatiently waiting to find out what happens next to Saffron and her friends.
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  • Hillary
    January 1, 2017
    I really, really liked this book, for several reasons. One, the portal fantasy genre is lots of fun. Two, the author included queer women of color as main characters, with their queerness (including asexuality!) playing a rather insignificant role in the narrative. The characters were queer, but the story isn't about their queerness, and romance takes a third or fourth tier to everything else, which is more important. Three, everyone makes good decisions, or at least decisions with a sufficientl I really, really liked this book, for several reasons. One, the portal fantasy genre is lots of fun. Two, the author included queer women of color as main characters, with their queerness (including asexuality!) playing a rather insignificant role in the narrative. The characters were queer, but the story isn't about their queerness, and romance takes a third or fourth tier to everything else, which is more important. Three, everyone makes good decisions, or at least decisions with a sufficiently realistic, rational basis. Four, the authors spends a lot of time deconstructing the trope of portal fantasy characters acquiring only minor, superficial injuries in easily hidden locations ("Oh no! I've been stabbed in the meat of the upper arm! I can keep doing whatever with only minor added groaning! This will only be problematic at plot-convenient points in the future!"). There's no hiding Saffron's adventure in a foreign land after she's through - [minor spoiler alert!] she's missing two fingers, her head is shaved, and she has scarring on her face. And Saffron has to deal with the ramifications of all this upon her return. The author also spends some time acknowledging that her characters have experienced trauma, and will have to deal with that trauma somehow, now or later. All in all, I'm SUPER excited to read the next book in the series.
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  • Lym
    January 30, 2017
    There are so many things to like in this book - the diversity of the characters and their world, the way their experiences are validated, the way this story plays both with the common tropes of portal fantasies and with the idea of Stories and storytelling in general, but ultimately, I felt strangely disconnected from it all and I'm not sure why. Partly, I think, it's the pacing (... what is it with me and pacing); it kind of feels like we're coming in in book 2 of a sprawling epic but without t There are so many things to like in this book - the diversity of the characters and their world, the way their experiences are validated, the way this story plays both with the common tropes of portal fantasies and with the idea of Stories and storytelling in general, but ultimately, I felt strangely disconnected from it all and I'm not sure why. Partly, I think, it's the pacing (... what is it with me and pacing); it kind of feels like we're coming in in book 2 of a sprawling epic but without the ability to actually go back and pick up the first volume, partly because, after a fast-paced start, the book slows down a lot until about 40% of the way in and provides us with a lot of world building and very little plot. Partly, it felt like a good deal of the character development was more telling than showing, or maybe it felt rushed in places compared to the relatively few (but unquestionably momentous) events that took place? That sounds odd, but I can't quite phrase it better or put my finger on why it bothered me.This does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, to say the least, and I'm now wondering if I'm curious enough to pick up the sequel when it comes out in March. We'll see how I feel about it then, I guess.
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  • Bridget Mckinney
    November 17, 2016
    There’s a lot to like about Foz Meadows’ An Accident of Stars. It’s unabashedly queer and feminist. It’s an almost retro-styled type of portal fantasy that manages to feel very familiar and refreshingly original at the same time. There’s a plucky protagonist and a lot of solid worldbuilding that supports a smartly conceived plot that stands alone well while still leaving plenty of room for new stories in the planned sequels. Still, An Accident of Stars never quite engaged me enough to move my fe There’s a lot to like about Foz Meadows’ An Accident of Stars. It’s unabashedly queer and feminist. It’s an almost retro-styled type of portal fantasy that manages to feel very familiar and refreshingly original at the same time. There’s a plucky protagonist and a lot of solid worldbuilding that supports a smartly conceived plot that stands alone well while still leaving plenty of room for new stories in the planned sequels. Still, An Accident of Stars never quite engaged me enough to move my feelings towards it from “like” to “love”—which is too bad because I do love Foz Meadows’ blog and had high hopes for this novel. Here’s the thing, though. I would have loved this book fifteen or twenty years ago. Saffron might not be the heroine I need as a thirty-four-year-old woman, but I’m so glad she exists for young people now. Along with Seanan McQuire’s thematically adjacent Every Heart a Doorway, this book should be at the top of holiday shopping lists for teen readers this year.
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  • Adam
    September 13, 2016
    I really enjoyed this book. Taking someone from our reality and opening up a whole new universe to them, that's an easy sell for me, but what really grabbed me from the start was the book's treatment of roles and relationships in society -- gender, race, hierarchy, etc. -- beginning in our world with the everyday, harrowing facts of being female in high school and moving on to somewhere else with its own set of rules, ethnicities, relationships, and social mores. The depth and texture of the wor I really enjoyed this book. Taking someone from our reality and opening up a whole new universe to them, that's an easy sell for me, but what really grabbed me from the start was the book's treatment of roles and relationships in society -- gender, race, hierarchy, etc. -- beginning in our world with the everyday, harrowing facts of being female in high school and moving on to somewhere else with its own set of rules, ethnicities, relationships, and social mores. The depth and texture of the world creates an immersive experience, and yet the pacing of its reveal never left me feeling overwhelmed with its intricacies -- it just accumulated organically as the story went on.Also when bad s*** happens, as it inevitably does, the characters actually experience emotional repercussions. None of this gloss-over, blahblah, "on to the next camp to achieve goal X!" I mean, even if they do have to keep moving it doesn't automagically go away just because they physically left the scene. It's like they're real people going through this stuff. : )Can't wait for the sequel!
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  • Jenni
    January 20, 2017
    Cute and confusing, charming and a little puzzling. There are some POV switchbacks you can easily get lost on, and a lot of world-building terms and concepts that at times induces a slight vertigo. The world is manifold, the magic somewhat inexplicable, and the geopolitics is a little perplexing (but fun). It's clearly a portal fantasy that doesn't come without faults, but it still a rewarding read that follows the architecture of a soft bildungsroman and ends in a clear path towards its inevita Cute and confusing, charming and a little puzzling. There are some POV switchbacks you can easily get lost on, and a lot of world-building terms and concepts that at times induces a slight vertigo. The world is manifold, the magic somewhat inexplicable, and the geopolitics is a little perplexing (but fun). It's clearly a portal fantasy that doesn't come without faults, but it still a rewarding read that follows the architecture of a soft bildungsroman and ends in a clear path towards its inevitable continuation. Nonetheless, the clearly superlative part of this book is its insistence on pivoting around representations of race, gender, and sexuality in fun, intersected ways. Narrative shortcomings are sorta compensated by this focus, and it's particularly enhanced by doing so in the fantasy genre. I liked the story and felt the characters were genuine, its multiverse compelling, and its concept empowering.
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  • Kaylie
    November 30, 2016
    THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. A portal fantasy and coming-of-age tale about Saffron Coulter, bisexual teenage girl of incredible sensitivity and willingness to love, who slips into another world full of polyamory and discussions about culture, race, and religion and super intense magical friendship bonds. It is about the strength, resilience, and fragility of the young, and what they can accomplish for the love of each other. It tackles stigma and difficult social issues as often as it gets the chance, THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. A portal fantasy and coming-of-age tale about Saffron Coulter, bisexual teenage girl of incredible sensitivity and willingness to love, who slips into another world full of polyamory and discussions about culture, race, and religion and super intense magical friendship bonds. It is about the strength, resilience, and fragility of the young, and what they can accomplish for the love of each other. It tackles stigma and difficult social issues as often as it gets the chance, a book with a supreme conscience that aids and does not hinder the plot. Absolutely read this, I recommend it with no reservations. Pretty much perfect, and give me the next one IMMEDIATELY.
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  • Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
    August 2, 2016
    I'm afraid this was a DNF for me. A fifth of the way in and I was frustrated by the world building by dialogue, the mid-paragraph switches in point of view, and being told how the characters were feeling constantly but barely seeing the evidence of it. It's pleasant to see a novel that's so diverse in the race, gender and sexuality make-up of its characters. I can safely say I've never read a book with an asexual polyamorous woman in a leading role before. But that wasn't enough to keep me readi I'm afraid this was a DNF for me. A fifth of the way in and I was frustrated by the world building by dialogue, the mid-paragraph switches in point of view, and being told how the characters were feeling constantly but barely seeing the evidence of it. It's pleasant to see a novel that's so diverse in the race, gender and sexuality make-up of its characters. I can safely say I've never read a book with an asexual polyamorous woman in a leading role before. But that wasn't enough to keep me reading.
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  • Roth
    December 3, 2016
    I loved this book so, so much. In other reviews I've been open about my frustration with fantasies that are populated almost solely by white men, and filled with relentless gritty grimness, and in contrast this was a breath of fresh air. With a cast almost entirely made up of queer women of colour, it definitely bucks fantasy trends, all while being beautifully written, well plotted, with rich worldbuilding. I loved every moment, and I can't wait until I get my hands on the second book.
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