1975’s The Birthgrave wasn’t Tanith Lee’s first novel but it seems like a good place to begin my new review series, A Year of Tanith Lee.
There were a number of reasons for this choice:
- DAW has just reissued it, so it’s easily available.
- I believe that it was this book that established Lee as an author of significance; it was a Nebula nominee,
- When I solicited suggestions for Lee books to review, this was one of the works that turned up in list after list.
The Birthgrave is of particular interest to me because hard as it may be to believe, even though I have been aware of its existence for
OH GOD FORTY YEARS HOW CAN IT BE FORTY YEARS some time, I’ve never read it. There as a reason for this, a very stupid reason. More on that later.
Centuries after the fall of her great and terrible people, an amnesiac wakes deep underground. Berated for her people’s sins by a bodiless voice calling itself Karrakaz, tortured with a glimpse of her own monstrous reflection, the amnesiac is offered death — but chooses instead to flee the caverns, into a world populated by the ignorant descendants of the humans her people once enslaved.
The villagers she encounters offer her worship. She rewards them with death.