Do you remember this cover? I am glad the content turned out to be so good.
The Broken Thread felt like a few other books I've read, and at the same time, felt entirely like itself. There is a definite Graceling (Kristin Cashore) tone, but with the theme of burgeoning love opened up to include love for a cobbled-together family (although there is also romantic interest). And it also reminded me of The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, with a significantly smaller cast of characters, but the same scope when it comes to exploring universal values like love and goodness.
The book opens with a dialogue between Alina and her younger brother, Eric. Alina is daydreaming about the Isle of Weaving, the most sacred and mysterious place in their world where fates are woven and determined. Although Alina admits she really has no idea what that means for the individual. Eric, who is petulant that Alina would want to leave him, questions her about the island and what it means to serve the tapestry, the center of the world. Alina is impatient for the Ambassadors of the Isle to visit her and bring her back with them; a tradition that has happened to the women in her family for generations. Except to her mother and her sister who chose the life of wives and mothers, to Alina's confusion. She only knows that she wants to do something important and the Isle is the most important place she knows.
Two ladies pick her up pretty quickly into the book and she spends a few weeks on the Isle of Weaving in meditation and performing the chores of a hopeful weaver; dyeing and sorting threads, kitchenwork, etc. Alina is living like a nun in a convent, and still hasn't even seen the great tapestry. At this point in the book I was thinking *wow, that would be peaceful but super boring*, and then:
The routine was comfortable, the labour less hard than farm chores and household tasks at home. But the excitement of anticipation, the joy of arrival, lay in the past. Now was the present, and the present was...well, boring.
And I giggled. Or let out a breathy "hee-hee". Then, one day when Alina is asked to deliver thread to the tapestry hall and the weaver steps out for a moment, Alina sees the work being done:
It hung from the ceiling to the floor along the back wall. Threads of different colours wove through it in intricate designs. It shouldn't have been beautiful--there were large sections composed primarily of the brown thread that Alina found so dull. But the way the threads flowed in and out, connecting the rough with the smooth, the dark with the light, the drab with the brilliant, somehow created a pattern so fascinating, and so lovely, and so right, that Alina wanted to cry.
Until she notices a vivid red thread, shortened and frayed, hanging from the bottom of the tapestry. Moved by compassion, Alina pulls some of her own copper coloured hair and winds it along the frayed end, weaving it into the design with its new length. And thousands of threads further down the pattern snap viciously...And we're only on page 18.
Alina is sent through time and space to the beginning of this red thread in history, to end the life of the person who should have died young. He is a young Prince and Alina has to end his life to save thousands.
The writing in The Broken Thread is tight and beautiful, totally resonant but not distancing. Linda Smith definately has a story to tell, but she does it with an effortless love of language and a fantastic imaginitive scope. The setting in this book has all of these great little details that are pieced in when needed, and you get this huge sense of the immensity of their world, like the author intended on writing additional books with different characters to take up more of its space. And while I thought the ending was tied up a little quickly and the plot at times was strained, The Broken Thread was a delight to read.