The koi in the pond
Swim round each other, Blue Prince
smiles, chases Old Man.
In summary: I liked the middle act of this book, & thought the last act was fine if predictable, but the first act was not my cup of tea. Or as I paraphrased-- "Sad, sad, sad, sad, why must I be sad?" Oh alright, it is a novel dealing with the aftermath of war, so I guess that is why, but I just found the first third of the book to be a little relentless in tone. Sure, sure, he's come back from war, can't relate to his family, his family can't relate to him, the community is in shambles, betrothals dissolving...but then you cap it off by killing a dog? Listen, that is a brutal first couple of chapters. The middle though is really great. Cam isn't exactly our protagonist, but he is the MacGuffin that the rest of the book happens around-- once he enmeshes himself with the Uplanders, things start moving along tickety-boo. On the subject of worldbuilding; the clash between the more Japanese Uplanders & the more Puritan Downlanders is very well handled. I don't mind a sot of "pan-Asian" approach to fantasy fiction-- I mean, "traditional" fantasy is usually "pan-European" so I call it a wash. & was happy about "yaddle yaddle" as the way to describe Uplander language-- compared to the Greek's "ba ba ba" & the modern "chink chonk," it sounds plausible without being offensive. That being said-- I find it hard to believe that two such distinct cultures-- separated by custom, language, & visible ethnic traits-- aren't more distinct. Uplander & Downlander? I don't think it would be that simple. Still, that is just a world building quibble about nuts & bolts, from one gearhead to another. The last bit of the book is more like your usual YA fare-- a whole lot of troubles caused by misunderstandings that could be solved with better communication. At least the barriers of communication are a theme of the book-- I'm not complaining, but I found the middle bit of the book the most profound by a wide margin. I picked this up because Jenny, Marie & Megan Whalen Turner recommended it, & I trust their judgement-- they weren't wrong, but I didn't unreservedly enjoy it.