I wanted to take some time away from that, though, and stop in at Blue Cat Review and say "hi!" I also wanted to leave you all with a review that I managed to find some time for after reading a book that I'd heard a lot of hype for. I was curious to see whether it held up. It's something of a cross between urban fantasy and classic fantasy, and earns major points for blending a multicultural cast of characters that work effectively. As some professional literary critics, various "puppy" groups, and amateur reviewers tend to argue from time to time (particularly as awards season comes around), the fantasy genre is dominated by white, male authors. This is a truth in many respects, the greats traditionally being recognized as Tolkien (white male), Jordan (white male), Card (white male), Brooks (white male), Martin (white male) and their like.
And thus, as authors tend to write from perspectives they know and are comfortable with, fantasy story protagonists are largely white, if not also male. Evolution is taking place, though, never fear! Women have broken into the pantheon of famous fantasy writers. J. K. Rowling, anyone? Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and Juliet Marillier? N. K. Jemisin even claimed the Hugo for Best Novel this year, showing that not just a woman, but a woman of color could write every bit as powerfully as the white males she beat out on the ballot.
Now, this isn't to say that fantasy is a "racist" genre, by any means. In fact, it is an excellent arena in which to take on such social issues. This is showcased rather well by Bennett in City of Stairs, and is one of the finer points of the piece, IMHO. I think it's important to remember how young the fantasy genre is and that it got its start with Granddaddy Tolkien's Euro-centric creation of Middle-Earth. As the genre gains greater age, we'll see more authors who both divert from the "white male" demographic themselves and who write about characters who aren't the traditional Arthur's, Aragorn's, and Rand al'Thor's. It will make for a richer, more diverse collective of creativity we who flock to the SFF shelves at Barnes & Noble can appreciate.
So, leaving the ramblings behind, here are my two-cents after reading Bennett's work...