After two weeks without any Maria V. Snyder-centric posts on this blog, the much-anticipated retrospective reviews of her books returns in fine form and flourish with the first entry of the Glass Trilogy, with the intrepid, often ruthlessly defiant Opal. Antithetically, I would say that Opal is more daring and ambitious than Yelena, whereas Yelena is more compliant with the political machinations of the Sitian oligarchical structure. Throughout the Study Trilogy, we always got small glimpses into the turbulent political world of the Sitian political structure, but Yelena never seems to question them too much, even though her Soulfinder abilities proved to be just as divisive as an issue as Opal’s glass magic. The tone of Storm Glass is immediately very different and even a tad bit cynical, as Opal struggles with issues of trust in a world, where many different forces or groups wish to utilize her glass-making abilities for very different, ulterior reasons. This makes Storm Glass immediately a novel that is just as interesting, if not more intriguing, for readers of the Study Trilogy, who loved the political intrigue of the Study series, and have long sought to see more ambiguities with the policies of the Sitian oligarchy.
More importantly though, the journey of self-discovery and agency for Opal is uniquely its own, and not at all derivative of Yelena’s own growth. While Yelena’s journey consisted of rediscovering family and uncovering her cultural origins, the journey of Opal is how to function, as someone with subversive powers, in a world that she wishes to be more of a obedient, less dissonant part of, but she is unable to be part of that world. There are more parties that could deceive her, then even Yelena, as the full extent of her powers and the implications of those powers, which Opal happens to have, prove to be much more polarizing than soulfinder abilities. Both their abilities serve to represent the metaphor of power and responsibility-an underpinned message throughout both the Study and Glass series- except, Maria V. Snyder often takes this tale of feminine power and potential much father in respects to the distinctive connotations of that type of journey for women.
On Amazon and Goodreads,the Glass Trilogy remains a very controversial series, all due to the questionable ramifications of Opal’s relationship with one of the series most complex characters: Devlen. Re-reading the series, I was very engrossed by any scenes with both Opal and Devlen, as Maria V. Snyder does an admirably courageous job delving into the dynamics between a character that has been abused, by this troubled character, in the past, and explores the fairly provocative potential for them to have some kind of developing relationship. Many feminists will read these pages, in a shallow, not-so circumspect way, and view their interaction and developing relationship, as something that might ethically sully the ethical intent of Maria V. Snyder’s writing. We have to look at this novel, in the context of skillful psychological experimentation. In many ways, the glassmaking analogy, which carries many different metaphors for the trials and conflicts for the character of Opal, seems to mirror the way Devlen and Opal’s relationship undergoes many different types of challenges that can set-back their relationship, and cause the reader to reflect on what truly defines us as humans; is it our magical abilities, or our choices?
While this series may be read superficially, and ostensibly seem like your average Young-Adult adventure story with the obligatory love triangle thrown in for dramatic effect, Storm Glass has a much deeper intention, for it really is a rich study of identity and psychoanalysis of what truly defines us. It is about power and responsibility; it is a story of carving out your own journey, while also exploring the societal and political boundaries that sometimes greatly alter the trajectory of our own journey of self-discovery. Storm Glass is a novel with political intrigue, fluid action sequences, and many interesting scattered subplots that all congeal together in a beautiful, mesmerizing glass piece, which will cause us to reflect on our own place in our lives, and ponder our friendships and alliances in a much deeper way.
When reviewing Sea Glass next week, I will be exploring Opal’s treacherous journey of balancing her power, ambition, with the power struggle she is faced with between many different embattled political forces. I will also further be exploring the ethical ramifications of Opal’s relationship with Devlen, which will inevitably bring us to the differences between Opal’s relationship with Kade- the powerful, endearing stormdancer- and Devlen-the sincere, though deeply troubled rascal. Rather than seeing these relationships as being a shallow use of love triangles (which they are not), I will analyze how Maria V. Snyder skillfully uses the love triangle, as a way to reflect Opal’s own interaction with her family and friends in the series. Her familial and romantic relationships jointly prove pivotal in the series, as much as her own tenacious efforts to try to understand her own identity, from the angle of someone that has magical powers, or someone that has a strong, obstinate nature to do right for others, even when they feel that they themselves are monstrous, in a sense (Opal often worries that she has the capacity to be evil, with the powers that she has, and this darker side of her ambitions are explored further in Sea Glass.)
Bibliophile Tea Corner: Sitian Tea Blend Recipe
Ingredients for tea blend:
2 chamomile tea bags
1 peppermint tea bag
Dash of Ground Cloves (Theobrama)
Drop of Vanilla Extract
Drop of Almond Extract
For tea junkies (like myself), I included a special Sitian tea recipe (ingredients listed above for your convenience). It is a blend that tries to include certain spices that are commonplace in the world of Maria V. Snyder’s books. The crushed cloves in the tea are meant to represent Theobrama,the Sitian herb that opens magician’s minds to magical influence and manipulation, from other magicians, who had that magical potential to read other people’s thoughts (and retool some of their thoughts and intentions, much like Opal does to some characters in Magic Study).
Here is the recipe, which also includes almond and vanilla extract, which are meant to make people think of the powerful Sandseed horses, and these extracts- much like the peppermint and chamomile teas- are meant to help subdue your thoughts into a storyweaver trance, as you think about the interconnection and interrelation of all the events that have transpired in your life. It is a pensive, trance-ridden, almost psychedelic bibliophile tea blend, which might make you fearful of the revelations that come from seeing the story patterns of your life become unfolded, through the trance that this tea blend will set upon your mind.
Next week, I will have stormdancer tea, which will be very different, in taste, from the Sitian tea listed above!