Roxanne Bland’s, The Moreva of Astoreth, is a twenty-seven chapter long book about life as a morev for Moreva Tehi. Tehi is a healer that works in the Temple for the Goddess of Love, Astoreth; The Most Holy One, who is also her grandmother. Less than interested in attending the Goddess’ religious service of Ohra and desperate to find the cure for Red Fever; a disease that plagued the Hakoi of their lands, she finds herself in great trouble with Astoreth, after missing the service. The defiance in character that lands Moreva Tehi in trouble, however, would not soon leave her and she would find herself in the Syren Perritory breaking every rule she had come to know. She is be lead to many revelations, some wonderful, some unsettling, but all unexpected.
The story began in Kherah, “a sunny desert south of the planet’s equator, where the fauna were kept in special habitats for learning and entertainment.” Moreva Tehi had seemingly spent too much of her privilege as granddaughter of a Goddess and was going to be sent away as punishment. In Kherah there were Devi, morevs and hakoi, most to least powerful respectively. Moreva Tehi was all three, but she despised the hakoi, even the parts of herself that was. After being sent away, hakoi like Kepten Yose of Mjor, would be a reminder to Tehi of why she hated hakoi, while others like Hyme; the healer and Teger; the Laerd, would conflict her understanding of that hatred.
Told from a first person perspective, the book became monotonous, as Moreva’s daily routine is described almost word for word for several chapters. The cycle contained, scrambling to get to breakfast, run ins with Teger, lab work with Hyme, morning service, clean up, rest, putting on makeup and getting dressed for the Ohra, evening service, rest, repeat. This made the book harder to read until about chapter thirteen. All the chapters before laid a boring and repetitive path for the reader to just happen upon a climax, literally. A severely unlikely love interest creates a hallmark of a plot twist and begins to really unfold the story.
The use of a second language that the narrator did not understand and that was not translated, successfully excluded both the narrator and myself.
Thematically, the language and attitudes to Tehi showed the struggle for her to be welcomed by the very people with whom she would share her body in the rite of Ohra, very similar to behavior of real world cultures. It was her bravery, breaking Protocol, and saving some miners from dying, that began a change in behavior towards her. There was a strong sense that she struggled with accepting herself, her religious obligations and how she felt about performing them starkly contrasted. Even though she hated the sexually invasive Ohra rite, her religious persuasions forced her to believe her feelings were the problem and not the rite. In the midst of themes such as love and power, Moreva learned reality was relative; she made a discovery about the Gods of her temple that threw her into a struggle with her own identity. Even so, Tehi dared not be bound by a dictated life. It was her determination and willingness to sacrifice that got her into trouble and she would use them to get out. Burning old bridges and creating new ones, with minimal harm to the people who she loved with all her hearts.
Pages: 452 | ISBN: 0996731660