The magical sequel to Pearl North’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Libyrinth
On a world light-years away, Earth is long forgotten, except for the knowledge protected in the vast libyrinth. But that knowledge was threatened by the Singers, who for generations beyond remembering have relied on oral storytelling. They sought to destroy the books in the libyrinth, which they thought would—if read—kill the words they sing, and the knowledge in their songs.
Now a Song has created peace between the Singers and the Libyrarians who work in the libyrinth. However, the libyrinth is quickly running out of food, and the survival of the ancient edifice and those who serve it may depend on Po, a young Ilysian who has had trouble adjusting to life at the libyrinth. Caught between his longings for acceptance and the Machiavellian tactics of his queen, Po is tricked into a crime that causes him to be cast out. He may return only if he retrieves a legendary artifact that may be the answer to all of the libyrinth’s problems…or could turn the world into a barren, lifeless ruin. For Po, life has finally become exciting…but the cost may be his life, and the lives of those he loves.
The Boy From Ilysies is an exciting, fast-paced novel about acceptance, growing up, and learning to trust oneself.
About the Author
The Boy From Ilysies is PEARL NORTH’s second young adult novel. She has published various works for adults under another name. She makes her home outside Detroit, Michigan, and is currently working on the final book of the Libyrinth trilogy.
Read an Excerpt
The Boy from Ilysies
By Pearl North, James Frenkel
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2010 Pearl North
All rights reserved.
Po had offended the Princess of Ilysies. Selene Tadamos, naked and indignant, stood in the copper tub in the center of her chamber in the Libyrinth, every bit as regal as her mother, Queen Thela, at a full state function. Water dripped from her long black hair and ran in tiny streams down her tall, lean form. She glared at him and pointed one elegant finger at the door. "Get out!"
Po dropped the hem of his robe and cringed back against the doorway, forcing his gaze away from her angry splendor. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said, still unsure of what he'd done wrong but certain that he'd gotten something wrong. Again.
Po ducked his head and fled the room. He shut the door behind him, then leaned against it, his labored breath echoing off the stone walls of the small landing at the top of the seventh tower. He was sweating, but not from the steam of the bath. Humiliation and anxiety made his palms damp and his face red.
He didn't understand her anger. She was Ilysian. She'd told him that her neck was sore and that she was taking a bath to relax. When an Ilysian woman spoke of relaxing and baths to an unclaimed Ilysian male, there could be no other interpretation: she expected him to come to her, to massage her sore neck and help her relax by offering himself to her.
Only that wasn't what she'd intended at all. What had he been thinking? She was a princess. She could have any male she wanted. Why would she bother with a scrawny young calf like him — just fifteen years old and still untried? But if she didn't want him, why in the Mother's name had she lingered after their workgroup's shift in the fields, helping him put away the farming equipment and telling him about her sore neck and the bath?
Slow realization curdled his stomach. She'd told him for the simple reason that her neck was sore and she wanted a bath. There'd been no "message" in those words, just a statement of fact. And as for "lingering," he had a tendency to wait on her when they were working. He would bring her water and sometimes abandon his own work to try to do hers. More than once she'd told him not to do that. So, by helping him with the equipment, she was probably just trying to impress upon him the notion that they were equals. Goddess, he was so stupid.
And she wasn't Princess Selene, either — not here. This was the Redeemed Community of the Libyrinth and she was Libyrarian Selene and she hadn't lived as an Ilysian for years and she probably had no notion of the effect her words had on him.
The now-familiar feelings of bafflement and shame rose up inside him — and beneath them, loneliness. Since the Redemption, everyone at the Libyrinth was working hard to leave behind their various cultural expectations and forge a new community, but Po was the only Ilysian male here. Nobody else had the same kinds of problems he had, and no one could really help him. He tilted his head back and rubbed at his eyes. His face felt hot. He wanted to cry, but that, too, was something males didn't do around here.
In fact, pretty much everything Po knew about how he was supposed to behave was wrong. And he so wanted to get it right. He'd been so relieved when Selene had invited him up here — when he'd thought she had. It had meant more than just a chance to finally fulfill his function as a consort. It meant having the opportunity to do something right for a change. Instead, he couldn't have been more wrong.
Po fought against the closing of his throat and the burning of his eyes, but it was no use — tears came. He wiped his face on the sleeve of his shapeless brown robe and ran down the stairs before someone could see him.
The stairs of the Seventh Tower opened out onto the large, circular hallway that was the main thoroughfare of the Libyrinth proper. The inner curve of the hallway bordered the Great Hall, with its massive dome, central console, and walls lined with books. Along the other side lay the towers, the dining hall, the kitchen, and the stables.
Po headed left at the base of the stairs, just so he could avoid the main gate. At this time of day — late afternoon — most people were finished with their work and gathered either outside in the open area surrounding the well, or in the Great Hall. The double arches of the main gate led to both. The area would be bustling with people.
Keeping his head down, he ran the long way around to the stables. He unlatched the large wooden door and slipped inside, shutting it again behind him. He turned to face a wide space dimly lit by the late afternoon sun. The air was thick with dust and the earthy aromas of straw and feed and dung. Here, at least, there was one creature he had something in common with.
He walked down the wide central aisle and unlatched the door of a large stall. With practiced ease he clambered up onto the broad back of Zam, the elephant who had borne their Redeemer to the Libyrinth. Like Po, she was here by accident. And like him, she was the only one of her kind.
Zam did not complain as Po sprawled on her back and succumbed to the torrent of feelings inside him. She was accustomed to him, and as Po pressed his face into Zam's thick, hairy hide, the elephant clumsily patted his back with her trunk and gave a low rumble of recognition.
Po soaked in the comfort she offered even as he rebuked himself. Unlike Zam, he could have gone home. When Adept Ykobos returned to Ilysies he could have gone with her, but he had chosen to stay. Why?
All he ever really wanted was to be a good consort and father. Back in Ilysies, when he was Adept Ykobos's assistant in the palace, he'd known how rare it was for a boy to study the art of kinesiology, how much rarer still to be given a post in the palace. And yet, even then, he had longed to be like other boys. So what on earth had possessed him to remain here, where all the rules were different?
He sighed and rubbed his cheek against Zam's scratchy back. It was because of the Redemption. For as long as Po lived, he would never forget what it had been like to be trapped inside the wing, tumbled about and terrified and then, out of nowhere, seized by a feeling unlike any he'd ever known before.
For a space of time — perhaps no more than an afternoon, yet it seemed to hold eternity in its span — he had known he was one with all things, and he had heard the Name of the Ocean and felt its harmonies in his own body and knew that this was the source from which all things arose. And he had known that he was no worse than a woman, that even the wise adept was no more than a variation on himself, and that there could be no difference that did not stem from common ground and therefore be part of the indivisible whole.
It was an experience that, they all learned, was both indelible and transient. When it was over they were no longer in that state, and yet none of them would ever forget that such a thing was possible, was, in fact, the greater reality. Every moment of their lives from that time forward was imbued with that awareness, even if they often fell into fragmentation and dispute.
So when Adept Ykobos chose to return to Ilysies, Po remembered the Redemption and he decided to stay here, where people were trying to live by what they had learned that day. But he'd made a mistake. This was too hard. He couldn't do it.
But oh, how he wished he could. Fresh grief seized him as he remembered what it had been like, who he'd thought he could be. This was worse than never being Redeemed at all. Now, when he failed he knew what he lost.
At last the storm subsided and Po allowed himself a few moments of lying there, empty. He remembered an afternoon when he was small. Somehow, over all the years, it came back to him in every detail — the smell of hot earth and the feel of it in his hands, the buzzing of the bees, the distant voices of his family and the nearer voice of Kip, his mother's old sire.
Though Po's grandmother was dead, the old man had fathered three daughters all in the same landed family. He was well provided for and content, with granddaughters to tease him and dote on him and a vegetable garden to tend now that he was too old to plow the fields.
Po must have been very young, because he was helping Kip weed the tomatoes, and not out with the others doing the hard work of getting the summer grain planted.
"Did you know that a woman's tears come from the ocean, but a man's tears come from the earth?" Kip asked. When Po didn't answer, he continued, "So it is only natural that a man's tears should return to the earth."
Po was crying because his cousin Appolonia had knocked him down and taken his cinnamon cracker at lunch.
Po wiped his face and stared at the old man. He'd always been fascinated by Kip's face, the myriad lines intersecting and curving, always following the immaculate structure of his classic Ilysian features. Kip could be a bit haughty about his rank as a stud but he was a kindly old goat and fond of his grandson.
"It's true," said Kip. "Because long ago, long before Queen Belrea united Ilysies, there were no men."
Po gaped at this. There would never be as many males as women, it was true, but none at all? The old man was lying. "Then how did the women get babies?"
"The women made themselves pregnant, the way the ringtails do. Yes, yes, it's true." Kip could see that Po was skeptical. "At that time, all the women knew the tale of the lizard and they could all reproduce parthenogenetically like the ringtail lizard does. Not just special people. And the land everywhere was green. Not just here east of the Lian Mountains, not just in a few scattered river valleys, but all over the land, yes, the whole land — the plain of Ayor, and even Shenash across the sea. All of it was as green as a lowland barley farm in spring."
"Even up in the hills?"
Kip laughed, and looking back now, Po realized that it was at his naiveté, which could not imagine a world beyond his own dusty mountain town. "Yes, even here in the hills. And the reason that the land was green everywhere was that a certain flower grew that was called the Lion's Bloom. The Lion's Bloom put out a pollen that was a powerful fertilizer and everywhere it fell, it made things grow.
"Life was good in those days, and everyone danced and sang all day long. But one day, the blooms forgot that they were plants and fell in love with the women. Indeed, the beauty of a woman living in contented abundance is so powerful that it caused the blooms to grow arms and legs, and they dug themselves out of the ground and turned into men, and when they stood before the women, the beauty which had formed them made them continue to grow, their bodies taking the form that will please women most.
"The women were delighted with their new companions and life continued quite happily for all until the next harvest. With no more blooms, the plants did not grow in the same abundance as before. In fact, they were in danger of dying off entirely.
"When the women saw this they were most dismayed, and this made their men unhappy. Everyone cried. The women's salty tears only made the land more barren. But where the men's tears fell, things began to grow again. One man loved his consort so much that he begged her to sacrifice him, to cut him down like a stalk of grain, and his blood flowed across the land and became the Lian River, where the land is most fertile of all.
"And that is why a man must give his tears and sometimes his life to the soil, so that some of that fertilizing property he still possesses is returned to the earth for the generation of plant life, and that is why other parts of the world that do not practice this are more barren than ours.
"So when you cry, hang your head, so that your tears drip down onto the earth."
Po sat up on Zam's back and wiped his eyes. For a moment he chided himself for wasting his tears, when he could have let them fertilize the land. But that was childish. Men's tears did not make things grow. It was an old goat's beard — a tale spun by old men to comfort little boys, nothing more.
Finally, Po patted Zam's neck and slid down her flank to the ground. It would be dinnertime soon and he wanted to wash his face before going into the dining hall. The last thing he wanted was to attract more attention. He was already in enough trouble. Would Pri — Libyrarian Selene tell others what he'd done? Would she tell the Redeemer?
He latched Zam's stall door behind him and paused to brush straw from his robe. How he hated this garment. A boy his age should be going about in a short tunic and hose, both cut to display his masculine features to their best advantage. In these robes, everybody looked the same, which he supposed was the point, but how on earth could he be expected to attract a consort dressed like this?
Suddenly he heard the door to the stables opening and voices talking. He considered ducking back into the stall, but it was too late.
"She wants me but I'm holding out for something better," said Baris as he and another Singer boy, Rossiter, entered the stable. They paused in the doorway, staring at Po. Baris smiled. It wasn't a friendly smile.
Po hated Singer boys in general and Baris in particular. For one thing, Baris was fat. It was disgusting. And he fancied himself attractive to women, which was a travesty, given the way he let himself go. He had short blond hair, a snub nose, pale blue eyes, and two chins. But what was most infuriating of all was his attitude, difficult for Po to put into words. He acted as if his sexual attentions were somehow both a gift and a debasement to any woman who might receive them. Po could not understand this, and yet it enraged him. Baris made males look very, very bad. Furthermore, he'd bet anything that Baris was still a virgin, and therefore a liar on top of everything else.
Po walked toward Baris and Rossiter, his bearing straight and tall, his gaze fixed on Baris, staring him in the eyes, openly provoking him. It felt good. Po's blood sang in his ears as his adrenaline spiked. A fight — that's what he needed.
He was about to ask Baris who he was talking about. Clearly he was disrespecting a woman, and Po was not about to let him shame males that way, but before he could speak, Baris said, "Crying again?"
Oh, right. Po had forgotten about his tears. Or rather, forgotten that he was supposed to hide them. Singer boys thought tears were a sign of weakness. The Libyrarians less so, but still, everyone thought he was too emotional for a male. But he was a male! It was his nature to be emotional. He couldn't help it. His hormones made him irrational, impulsive, aggressive, and desperately dependent on female approval and gratification.
"Still a virgin?" said Po, because he knew Baris was, and hated it enough to lie about it, despite the fact that he took no measure either with his appearance or his personality to make himself alluring to women.
"I get enough," said Baris.
It took Po a second to figure out what he was talking about. He meant sex. As if it were barley to be gathered in bales and stored. "You lie. What woman would have a fatso like you?"
"Hey, both of you, what are you doing?" said Rossiter, who had hung back as Po and Baris approached each other. His gaze flicked from Po to Baris and back again.
Rossiter was tall and thin, with dark, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. He could almost pass for Ilysian, except for his olive skin tone and his small nose. Rossiter wasn't bad for a Singer. He'd been the very first to accept the written word. It had happened while he was being tortured by Libyrarians, prior to the Redemption, but oddly he didn't use that fact to lord his status over other males. He was a healer and Po worked with him in the infirmary tent sometimes. As long as Rossiter didn't blatantly challenge him with questions or suggestions, Po could tolerate him.
But Baris was another matter and as far as Po was concerned, there was no need for more words. With less than four feet left between them, Po ended the preamble to their fight by stepping in and faking a punch with his right. Baris fell for it and Po was ready with a left punch to Baris's jaw. The sting in his knuckles was as satisfying as the smacking sound his fist made as it connected with the hard bone beneath Baris's pudgy flesh.
Baris let out a grunt and grabbed Po by the hair. "You fucking hegirl," he said. One of his insults, though it never made any sense to Po.
"Hey, both of you, stop it!" yelled Rossiter. "This isn't how we're supposed to act."
Baris swung Po by the hair and released him and Po staggered back a few steps before regaining his balance. When he did, he wasted no time. He rushed Baris, tackling him around the waist, hurling them both down onto the straw-covered ground.
Baris wheezed at the impact, and before he could move Po straddled his chest, pinning Baris's arms beneath his knees.
"Stop it," said Rossiter. "It's yourself you're hitting. Remember? We're all one!"
Yeah. Po did remember that. But only with his mind. It was not in his heart at the moment. One of the things he'd learned since coming here was how easy it was to lose big truths amid little ones. There was a difference between understanding something with your mind, and feeling it inside. At the moment, his anger crowded out the profound interconnectedness he'd felt at the Redemption. Peace and compassion were concepts. If they had a home in his heart, it was hidden by Baris's provocation. Po punched him in the nose.
Excerpted from The Boy from Ilysies by Pearl North, James Frenkel. Copyright © 2010 Pearl North. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1 Kip's Tale,
2 After the Miracle,
4 Queen Thela's Decree,
8 The Bloom,
9 Village Life,
10 Ithalia's Brand,
13 The Chorus of the Word,
14 A Fly Story,
16 The Marketplace,
17 Siblea's Revolution,
18 Shame and Its Opposite,
19 The Old Theater,
20 Endymion's Tomb,
21 The Last Ancient,
22 The Lit King,
24 Siblea's Bloom,
25 Ayma's Army,
27 The Queen's Consort,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I guess when I read Libyrinth I missed something key about Ilysies. I knew it was a matriarchal society, but I failed to notice that men are greatly outnumbered and treated as second class citizens. It is this second class status that has Po all mixed up in The Boy from Ilysies. Not only is he having problems thinking of Princess, I mean, Libyrarian Selene as just one of the girls and no more than anyone else, but he's also having trouble seeing himself as no less than. He's used to serving women like Selene, not working alongside them, and he's used to being emotionally taken care of, in return, by a matriarchal figure. All of this equality has left him feeling very alone and unsupported. Much of the book is spent on this dilemma. It's interesting and important and turns gender stereotypes on their heads, but it wasn't what I was looking for in a sequel to the action-packed, literature-rich, POC and LGBTQ-featuring Libyrinth. I wanted more action than intrigue, more of Clauda's brashness and less of Po's confusion, more of the books' wisdom and less erections as feelings, more of the look-how-I've-grown Selene and less of the back-to-the-beginning Selene, more Nod(s), more Haly, and for the love, more Clauda AND Selene. When Po finally left on a quest, along with former Censor Siblea, Selene, and a few others, I was so happy. I just wish that moment had come before I was halfway through the book. But that second half of the book was totally worth it for me. The above group sets out for the former Singer headquarters to look for a tool from the legends of every major cultures' folklore that will hopefully make the land around the libyrinth fertile enough to support the community living there. Of course, when they get there, things do not go as planned, but in the course of the search and the fighting, we find out more about the foundations of the Singers' society. Their (former) reasoning behind the fear and demonization of the written word isn't exactly spelled out, but it makes a lot more sense now. Their still present culture of abuse and neglect of women also butts up against Po's sensibilities in a way that makes him take action rather than wallow in confusion and self-pity. The trip is also filled with danger, suspense, a cute but damaged girl for Po, and a cliff-hanger of an ending. I'm re-sucked in to this trilogy (or series?) an eagerly awaiting the as yet untitled Book 3. Book source: Philly Free Library
This sequel to Pearl North's Libyrinth comes from the unexpected viewpoint of Po, an Ilysian teenager who has problems adjusting to the culture of the newly independent Libyrinth whose inhabitants, Singers and Libyrarians, now coexist peacefully. Po's struggle to find a place in this agrarian society leaves him conflicted in his loyalties and lacking in self-confidence. Due to his naivete, he is held responsible for the fact that they are all faced with imminent starvation. In order to atone for his misconduct, Po is recruited for a quest that could solve both his problems and those of the Libyrinthian community. The Boy from Ilysies melds a coming-of-age story with the role of literacy in society as well as the dangers of oppressive regimes. Though its locale is off-world and in some distant future, the narrative explores archetypes in such a fashion as to read like history or, at least, stuff of legend. It is written in a voice at once adolescent and adult, making it appropriate for many age groups. In the course of Po's adventures, this reluctant hero discovers a path to his self-worth, a theme that is always timeless and cross-cultural.
For centuries the Singers and the Libyrarians were at war with each other over how knowledge should b transported. The former believe in oral storytelling while the latter feel strongly books are the ultimate source. A miracle occurred uniting the adversaries though problems remain between the groups. The hope is to make the dying land surrounding the labyrinth back to fruition with a new crop. Po, a young man from Ilysies, where males are slaves, is in the field when a fire breaks out destroying the crops. He is blamed though he is totally innocent. To keep Po out of harms way, he is sent with the Chorus of the Word to the Corvariate Cathedral to find Endymion's Rose, an artifact from the Ancients that may save the world as it was before the terraforming started breaking down. It was lush and fertile and green. The sequel to Libryinth takes place on a world changed to be a new earth, which is just a fleeting myth like memory for those on the orb. The terraforming is breaking apart mindful of what NPR has just described happens to some orthodontic work. It will take special archivists to learn how to reverse the rapid deterioration that threatens both groups. Filled with action and a deep look at a divided culture battling one another (mindful of DC), young adult readers will enjoy the entertaining thought provoking The Boy from Ilysies.