From her birth, Abisina has been outcastfor the color of her eyes and skin, and for her lack of a father. Only her mother's status as the village healer has kept her safe. But when a mythic leader arrives, Abisina's life is ripped apart. She escapes alone to try to find the father and the home she has never known. In a world of extremes, from the deepest prejudice to the greatest bonds of duty and loyalty, Abisina must find her own way and decide where her true hope lies.
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As a dark-skinned girl born to a blond Vranian mother, with no father in sight, Abisina has been an outcast her whole life. When a religious leader visits her village and instigates a pogrom against outcasts, dwarves, elves, and centaurs, Abisina's mother is killed, and Abisina runs for her life, keeping only her mother's necklace and vague directions to her father's home, Watermseet. Along the way, she is joined by a dwarf named Haret, who has his own reasons for wanting to go to Watersmeet. Though harrowing encounters with centaurs who wear human toes as trophies heighten the drama, it is Abisina's satisfying emotional quest to understand the dual nature of her own identity that drives this narrative. Her joy over meeting her father is tempered by her loathing for the centaurs who are his friends as well as deep ambivalence about her father's ability to shape-shift from man to centaur at will. As Abisina and Haret join the folk of Watersmeet in a war to reclaim the land from the religious ruler who began the pogrom in her village, Abisina begins to accept and understand her dual nature as a child of both Vranian and Watersmeet descent. The relationship between Abisina and Haret is warm and engaging, and the dialogue between them cleverly captures the slow development of their camaraderie, as they move from competitive banter to steadfast alliance. Fans of Ursula Le Guin's character-driven fantasies will enjoy this story of Abisina's quest to unify both her divided country and her divided self; an epilogue hints toward a sequel.