The Raven Tower

This delicious retelling of the classic Hamlet, is a familiar tale of deception riddled with class, court, and gender politics. It’s told from the point of view of the narrator whose identity is not revealed until the final pages of the book. It’s a good reveal!

I read an excerpt from the opening chapter of the book.

The Raven Tower is written by Ann Leckie and published by Orbit of Hachette Book Group, 2019. Other novels by Ann Leckie are Ancillary Justice.(2013), Ancillary Sword (2014), Ancillary Mercy (2015), Provenance, (2017), Translation State (2023), and numerous short stories.

Audio

Video

Contemplative Prompts

I invite you to witness all your thoughts without judgment. Okay? Could you allow your thoughts to arise and be expressed without censure or editing? Could you allow yourself to be as you are at this moment?

At the opening of this book, a young man returns to his home town to step into the role his father is about to vacate. He seems ready to take on the inherited mantle and perhaps even optimistic with his new role.

In thinking about the roles you have inherited, what stands out? Can you identify some of those inherited roles? Or what are some roles that others have assumed you have or will step into? Do you accept the roles? Or do you bristle at them? Is there a mantle you desire? What would your life look like if you were to inhabit that mantle?

In this reading of the opening chapter, we also meet a servant. There seems to be a close relationship between the young man and the servant. There’s a familiarity between them that blurs their class and courtly status.

Power dynamics in personal relationships and social arenas are complex and dynamic. They are not fixed and change in response to the players and surroundings. How do you respond to these fluxing power dynamics? What does it look like when you’re playing big? Playing small? What situations support you in feeling your power surge? How do you respond when you’re in the presence of discordant social status? 

The story of this book is a delicious retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Hamlet. It is a familiar tale of deception and decay from top to bottom. What is it within you that remains true and stable regardless of the players and surroundings? What is fixed within you? What are you sure of? What lies at your foundation?

A Potential Can of Worms

What are the three things we’re told to never talk about in polite company? Politics, religion, and money. Three topics near and dear to my heart. I talk about them a lot. Oh and death; I bring that topic up in conversation too. Oy vey.

During the recording of this podcast, I said “politics is personal” and that twigged something in my brain but I couldn’t recall at the moment. What I failed to recall is the phrase “the personal is political” which was the rallying cry of second-wave feminism. It referred to the fact that politics plays out in personal relationships and not just on the larger stage of society and government. The slogan also spoke to the inherent power dynamics and imbalances in relationships.

While most second-wave feminisms don’t resonate with me, this phrase does. I do think the world stage, while evasive and abstract, has direct and concrete effects on individual citizens. Furthermore, we have an effect on each other. We are all interrelated.

How about you? What are some of your political stances? How do they play out? How have they evolved over your lifetime? What is your rally cry? What is your rebel yell?

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