Katherine Arden – The Girl In The Tower Audiobook
The second volume of the “A Winter’s Night Trilogy”, “ The Girl in the Tower ” follows directly on the events staged in “ The Bear and the Nightingale ”,first novel Katherine Arden’s released last year. and which had achieved great success with the public. Note that if this second volume is presented as being able to be read completely independently, this is not really the case in my opinion. Indeed, as much the first volume could be sufficient on its own, as the second requires to have read the previous one to fully grasp all the subtleties and issues of the story. [I also advise those who have not read the first volume of the trilogy to go directly to the next paragraph at the risk of seeing certain parts of the previous plot revealed.] We find here the same characters as in ” The bear and the nightingale ”, the action taking place just after the events which upset the daily life of the Pétrovitch family and the village of Lesnaïa Zemlia. This time again, it is Vassia who is at the heart of the story. After her hasty departure from her native village, the young girl finds herself wandering the roads with no destination in mind: since it was impossible for her to stay at home after a priest accusing her of witchcraft had stirred up hostility. from the villagers towards her, our heroine decides to take advantage of this opportunity to travel the world and free herself from the shackles usually imposed on her sex. Very quickly, however, the young girl will have several encounters that will upset her plans. the King of Winter, first, as well as a whole cohort of fairy creatures who see their strength wane as Christianity gains followers. the prince of Moscow in person, then, left to beat the countryside in search of the Tartar brigands who ravage the villages around the capital and kidnap the young girls. Disguised as a boy, Vassia goes, unwittingly, to attract the sympathy of the prince who invites her to follow him to Moscow. There, the young girl happily reunites with her brother and sister, one a monk, the other a princess. However, both find it hard to digest to see their little sister so brazenly depart from the discretion and codes imposed on women, thus endangering her own reputation and theirs. In addition to the mentalities of the time, our heroine will also find herself confronted with a vast plot at the Moscow court involving both ordinary men and supernatural creatures.
As in ” The Bear and the Nightingale “, the novel’s main charm comes from the change of scenery provided by the chosen historical context. While the medieval period is frequently depicted in fantasy, this is not the case with Russian history and culture, with which Western readers are arguably unfamiliar. The reconstruction of Russia at the time is also of great quality. If the action of the first volume was limited to the remote domain of Lesnaïa Zemlia and thus made it possible to highlight the disparity of the Russian territory (which then has nothing of a unified entity), this second volume takes place for its part mainly in Moscow and discusses the subject of Mongol rule. Indeed, the Mongol lords then reign over a large part of Eastern Europe: the various princes are therefore subject to them, although the distance and internal dissensions within the Golden Horde allow them to sometimes loosen some little vice of submission. Without ever dwelling on too much detail, at the risk of making the story indigestible, the author immerses us in Russian culture in small touches. This begins with the use of a specific vocabulary which contributes to the change of scenery and which allows the author to anchor his story in history. In addition to the geopolitical context, the reader learns to familiarize himself with the religion which occupies a central place in the story. Indeed, even if the reader is undoubtedly aware of the peculiarities specific to Christianity of the time, there is a chance that the Orthodox religion will be much less familiar to him. Here again, the author does not bother with long descriptions but sprinkles his story with references to titles, places or festivals which allow the reader to clearly define the specificities of Orthodox worship. Russian folklore here also changes from what we are used to. After the roussalka, the domovoi or the banniks (spirits of the baths), our heroine will find herself confronted with the Polounotchnitsa (the “lady of Midnight”), a gamaïoun (bird with a woman’s head capable of predicting the future) , and of course to the famous winter king already mentioned in ” The bear and the nightingale “, Morozko.
In addition to the quality of the historical reconstruction, the interest of the work also lies in that of the characters. Vassia is still as endearing as when she was a child and it is hard not to be touched by her quest for freedom. The condition of women of the time is also at the heart of the novel which depicts a particularly rigid patriarchal society in which the women of the aristocracy have no other choice than sequestration in perpetuity, which they opt for. for marriage or convent. The scenes taking place in the “terem” are thus particularly oppressive and make it possible to highlight a practice attested to the time of The Girl In The Tower Audiobook free which consists in making the women of the court live in apartments or separate buildings, in order to cut them off. totally men and all social life. This is the fate that falls to Olga, Vassia’s sister, as well as to her daughter, condemned to spend her life in the terem without knowing anything about the world or even Moscow. The author signs with these three characters very beautiful portraits of women, all very different from each other but each strong in their own way. Thus, if one cannot help admiring the audacity and the stubbornness of Vassia who intends to benefit from the same freedom as her brothers, the character of Olga, princess concerned with conventions and traditions, has a different in courage which allows it to arouse, for other reasons, the admiration and sympathy of the reader. The same is true of little Maria, whose fate can only be moved to the extent that it perfectly testifies to the absurdity and the horror of the straitjacket then imposed on high-ranking women. The male characters are for their part more withdrawn, even if they also benefit from a neat personality, whether it is Sacha, the priest Konstantin or Prince Dimitri. the most enigmatic character of the series, however, remains the king of winter, Morozko, who has a disturbing and very moving relationship with the young girl, portrayed with great sensitivity by the author.
We find in ” The girl in the tower ” the same qualities which were already the charm of ” The bear and the nightingale “. In addition to the originality of the decor and the bestiary staged, the novel seduces above all by the empathy that the author manages to create for his characters, and in particular his heroine, alongside whom we take great pleasure in discovering the Russian history and culture of the Middle Ages. Without doubt one of the most beautiful discoveries of the year.