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Marilee J. Layman

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07:15 pm: Ilario: A Story of the First History, Book Two: The Stone Golem by Mary Gentle
I reviewed the first book of this duo here. I should note that these are ARCs -- whenever the library's acquisitionist gets these in SFF, they come to the bookgroup, and I took these since I had Ash already. There's a pull-quote from Locus on the cover: "The foremost SF/fantasy novel of gender in quite a while."

Ilario's daugher Onorata is born via a crude Caesarian and they both live, but as soon as possible, they decide that the two of them and the Egyptian will go to Alexandria in Exile and Honorius will head back to Iberia to try to make it right with the King and his First Minister. While in Alexandria, they see the golem again, but it takes only a very short place in this book as in the first, so I'm not sure why it's the title. They are also still there when a giant Chinese warship shows up in harbor, lost. They make diplomatic relations of a kind, and sail back to Iberia with a plan to make things right.

When they get there, they find Honorius is in diplomatic prison and the King would like Ilario to abase himself to the "father" and mother who tried many times to kill him because he was a hermaphrodite. He eventually agrees to do it, to be safe. Then on the way in the Chinese ship again to show off their new "allies" -- another giant batch of the ships makes it into the Med. Also, the First Minister has beaten them to that seaport and Ilario finds his "father" with his mother all tied up. This is where there's a long long series of pages about how men get treated so much better than women in all ways that Ilario should be glad that he's considered a man. I hope this was tightened up a bit in the book.

In an epilogue, we find out what happens to whom, and it's clear that while there is a Burgundy and Dijon, there is no Ash. Again, it was a good story, but I didn't like it as much as I did Ash.

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