It is hard to describe this book, honestly it is just one of those books you have to read to understand. I have read a Tepper book before, and she does have a way to build a story.
This starts as fantasy, but nothing is as it seems. No it is this strange mix of fantasy and sci-fi and Tepper does it so well. She mixes things up and little by little I get to understand this world. Is it Earth? Is it a new planet? Well, I will not tell you that, read and see. What I can tell you is that it is a world that got destroyed by war, by stupidity, by humans, what else. Some left for another planet and those left behind struggled to get by. In the countryside there are villages and farmers. In the cities gangs rule with weapons. In Archetypal villages archetypes live; oracles, prophets, heroes, princesses, witches. Why? To save the rest from those who might cause trouble. There is also Edgers who live behinds walls and have technology, and the place of power where Families rule and use androids. But there are also ogres and dragons in the forest. Like I said, nothing is what it seems.
There you go, a world so strange, but still very real. There are reasons for everything and we get to know why things are like they are. Books are burned if they are older than 50 years, because if you can't read about the past, you can't remember it and you can't go to war over silly things. There are people out there trying to save nature. And while I read I kept wondering what, and how. The clues are there and it was so fun finding out more. I love a well created world and that it sure is.
About the story then. Well a young man leaves for the city and becomes a ganger. And orphan is taken to an archetypal village and at the place of power a woman wants just that, power, and to go to the stars. These stories are all connected. I liked Abasio, the boy who leaves for the city. He knows the cities are bad, his own mum had been a gangers concubine and fled. But still he leaves. Orphan is a mystery, and someone is out after her. But she is just a sweet girl. And then there are others that they meet, good people, and bad people.
I liked it, it was a freaky book, in a good way. I love fantasy so of course I was all over that angle, and sci-fi is fun too. This mix here, more fantasy than sci-fi is another great mix. There is technology, just not much, or used that much. Therefore it makes it the more interesting. She also has a way to keep you interested, because you can't see anything coming.
What to call this book then? Post-apocalyptic, dystopia, fantasy, sci-fi, your call. Whatever suits you. And that is also its strong side, it can be something for everyone.
I do recommend it if you want to try something different. Tepper is a master storyteller and she will keep on surprising you.