This book won the Nebula awards. And was listed finalist for the Hugo Awards. Hm. It was pretty good. Lots of stereotypical narratives, especially the beginning: two kids, destined for different paths, one in magic, one in science. Our hero, the magic-girl, gets offered hints about her being a witch, but everything remains a bit vague and she can’t really figure it out, plus she is of course caught up in a web of politics. But the relationships of the two kids, and then adults, at some point, surprises. It develops depth. Their characters develop. It remains interesting, the story becomes touching. The whole plot about whether science or magic will rule the world is not new as such, but it is realized in a nice way, with lots of creative elements. The side characters on neither side are exactly evil, everyone is portrayed as this strange eccentric with some cute or adorable aspects, with a good crazy. But ultimately people die, and world (nearly) sinks into chaos.
The book is difficult to put away. That does not necessarily speak for its quality, not at all in fact. The writing style is nto exactly for me. It’s a bit entertaining, a bit cynical, always a bit witty, presenting the funny in serious situations. I don’t like that too much… Let’s say it’s not a literary or linguistic pleasure to read the book, but there is pleasure in the story.
As a nice bonus, gender stereotypes get challenged continuously throughout the novel, subtly, though, without making much of a deal about it. Lots of female characters, female engineers, female lead scientists (not exclusively though, also enough male characters). Both men and women have their emotional issues, both cry, there is one character who is not identifiable as male or female etc.