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Sheri S Tepper

Orion

ISBN: 978-0-575-09495-6

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

In recent years Sheri Tepper has been writing books where environmental concerns have come to the forefront; The Waters Rising is one such novel, but one with a powerful and interesting story that just happens to touch on environmental concerns. Unlike some authors, Tepper doesn’t need to preach to get her point across.

As the story opens, the peddler Abasio and his talking horse Blue are approaching Wold, a part of the world not yet affected badly by the rising seas, rivers and lakes. They’re not quite sure what they’re doing there; Abasio just had a feeling that he needed to head in that direction. And when he meets the child Xu-lai, he reluctantly realises that perhaps he is intended to help her. He’s not quite sure, and he’s afraid to make a dreadful mistake; and he’s also afraid that helping her could lead to a lot of trouble.

Xu-lai is a Tingawan soul carrier. The Tingawan princess Xu-i-lok, wife of the Duke of Wold, is dying. When she expires, her soul passes to Xu-lai, who is then responsible for returning it to its proper resting place in Tingawa. However, the journey will hardly be short or safe. For one thing, the world is changing. The waters are rising, and all people keep finding themselves scrambling further back from the shores – up mountains, further inland, onto islands. Within a century the waters will have risen so far that all land life, including mankind, will be extinct. And some of the scrambling surviving settlements are becoming quite strange.

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