The Braided Path
The Braided Path is a trilogy of novels written by Chris Wooding. These books were originally sold individually as The Weavers of Saramyr, The Skein of Lament and The Ascendancy Veil though I didn’t know this at the time I picked it up. All I saw was a big, fat, glorious red book with golden font on it that may or may not contain elusive, mysterious information unknown to the human race until now. (Side note: there appears to be a new cover and it seems like you may not be able to get the cover shown – which is too bad. To me this red cover just screams of secretive, intimate magic.)
This book is a huge, meaty, delicious read. It is filled with imagery, exciting characters and probably some of the coolest descriptions of magic that I have read in a long time. Before the geek in me gets loose, let me go over the synopsis.
The story follows Kaiku who starts off as an innocent young woman. Her family is attacked and as she sets out to seek justice and find answers she eventually uncovers a hideous secret that affects almost every part of the world she knows and lives in. The innocent, young and selfish Kaiku is forced to grow up and the growth of Kaiku is part of what makes this story so interesting to read.
Kaiku lives in a time of the Weavers; a group of men who practice magic by donning sacred masks. It is when these masks are on that these men can enter into the world that essentially makes up the reality in which everyone lives – a quantum world. We see only one physical ‘reality’ but the Weavers can see the connections underneath the physical (the quantum physics geek in me got really turned on with this story). Basically, they can manipulate time and space, I just was trying to sound more poetic.
The Weavers (in their own minds) are keepers of the righteous and are generally employed by the rich or by royalty. They use their magic to weed out the Aberrants; ‘impure’ individuals who are seen as monsters to the unknowing public and are told to be feared. But impure by whose standards and why? These are some of the questions this story asks. However, the Weavers have gotten cruel and egotistical in their time and they soon plot to gain control of the empire for themselves. It is in this mess that Kaiku finds herself.
For me, one of the most satisfying aspects of the book is the continued battle between the Weavers and a few select women. Being the domain of men for so long, women are not allowed to weave. We are told it is because they themselves are impure, however the reason women are not allowed to weave, we discover, is because they are too damned good at it. The Weavers fear women as they have a natural connection to nature and the world as a whole, therefore they have the potential to become for more powerful than them. This is a serious threat to the male Weavers and they will do anything they can to stop it from happening. (Let me take this moment to give a glorious high five to the author and his dedication to describing a moment in the story where the Weavers discover for the first time that a woman is weaving and they all freak out. I wanted to jump off the couch, scream at the top of my lungs and fist punch the air for days after that scene. A-maz-ing.)
Again, kick-ass female characters and some solid men that deserve to be partnered with them. Kaiku’s journey from petulant young woman to bad-ass warrior sorceress is well thought out and paced. The great thing is that even though she grows a lot throughout the book, she is still who she is and her petulance still comes out at times, especially as she grows more determined and more powerful. She did not start out as my favourite character but as the book went on, she worked hard to deserve my respect.
Okay, I could go on but I need to end this post or it will be so long that it will break the internet. There are thrilling scenes of battles, both physical and magical and great moments of dialogue. There is a solid story of politics and ethics and, the relationships that developed in this story are believable and felt genuine – not forced.
Bottom line is – I was just blown away by the imagination in this book. It was dazzling and epic and I guarantee it will feel as though the Weavers have a hold of your heart, ready to squeeze the life out of you when you read it.
Posted on October 17, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged book review, chris wooding, fantasy, magic, the ascendancy veil, the braided path, the skein of lament, the weavers of saramyr. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.