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The Broken Land

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Highly-acclaimed and award-winning author Ian McDonald pens a powerful novel about political and religious oppression, set in a far-future Earth that bears startling resemblances to our own. This riveting world-building novel offers a haunting allegory for the bitter strife tearing apart such places as South Africa and Northern Ireland.


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Highly-acclaimed and award-winning author Ian McDonald pens a powerful novel about political and religious oppression, set in a far-future Earth that bears startling resemblances to our own. This riveting world-building novel offers a haunting allegory for the bitter strife tearing apart such places as South Africa and Northern Ireland.

30 review for The Broken Land

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is one of those books where I have to hold my hand up and admit I was captured by the cover first (it is after all a Jim Burns) and was only later impressed by the story. In this book there is so much is going on - from the style and prose it is written in to the sheer creativity of the world Mr McDonald creates to the subtle messages and subjects he decides to explore and discuss through the storyline - most of which I will not discuss since it gives away the storyline. But what can I say - This is one of those books where I have to hold my hand up and admit I was captured by the cover first (it is after all a Jim Burns) and was only later impressed by the story. In this book there is so much is going on - from the style and prose it is written in to the sheer creativity of the world Mr McDonald creates to the subtle messages and subjects he decides to explore and discuss through the storyline - most of which I will not discuss since it gives away the storyline. But what can I say - having read the book (and many of other peoples reviews on the book too) I agree that the internal conflict though obviously fantastic has a resonance to our world today, in fact I could not help seeing correlations to places and situations in the news and yet it didn't feel contrived or artificial. Then again I was fascinated with the creativity of the world to how such an alien world (with its technology and life forms as well as the various characters approach and interaction with them) so quickly became the accepted normal. The style it is written in does take a little while to get used to but once you do the story really comes alive. Now I will admit that Ian McDonald is one of those authors I have heard of but experienced very little (something I must do something about) but what I can say is the gamble was worth it and I think every story can do with character like grandfather.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tijana

    Što bi rekla Lajza Mineli, božanstvena dekadencija od knjige. Divni, savršeni SF koji se istovremeno bavi uticajem nezamislivo napredne tehnologije na naše živote, politikom i političkim podelama, etikom, zagrobnim životom i metafizikom... ma šta god hoćete. Sve pisano raskošnim, poetskim jezikom, a prikazani svet organske tehonologije je nezamislivo vizuelno bogat, podsećajući na najbolje slike Maksa Ernsta. Neverovatno koliko je ovo ambiciozno štivo i koliko autor uspeva u svemu što je naumio. K Što bi rekla Lajza Mineli, božanstvena dekadencija od knjige. Divni, savršeni SF koji se istovremeno bavi uticajem nezamislivo napredne tehnologije na naše živote, politikom i političkim podelama, etikom, zagrobnim životom i metafizikom... ma šta god hoćete. Sve pisano raskošnim, poetskim jezikom, a prikazani svet organske tehonologije je nezamislivo vizuelno bogat, podsećajući na najbolje slike Maksa Ernsta. Neverovatno koliko je ovo ambiciozno štivo i koliko autor uspeva u svemu što je naumio. Kroz životnu priču neme devojčice Matembe Fileli, Mekdonald prikazuje svet sa nepomirljivo zavađenim frakcijama koje su podeljene verom i jezikom. Kad sam stigla do dela sa preimenovanjem toponima kao ključnim simbolom tlačenja, tačno sam znala da je solidan deo ovog konflikta preuzet iz irsko-engleske istorije, i gle, autor je detinjstvo i mladost proveo u Belfastu, šezdesetih i sedamdesetih, ali podela između Ispovednika i Proklamatora nije puka alegorija niti je mehanički preslikana, analogije se mogu povući i sa nama bližim i bolnijim podelama. Mekdonald uspeva da stvori svet oblikovan "Zelenim talasom", revolucionarnim biotehnološkim prevratom, iz koga proističu ne samo prikazane tehnologije već i različiti pogledi na svet, religiju, umetnost, svrhu života. "Srca, ruke i glasovi" prosto zastrašuju stepenom u kome se ovako razrađen koncept stapa sa upečatljivim i životnim likovima - ne radi se samo o tome da navijate za njih, nego pojedine scene čak i kod ovako blaziranog čitaoca poput mene zaista zazivaju spontanu neposrednu emotivnu reakciju, strah, sažaljenje, katarzu. Ima li ova knjiga mana? Pa, od silne krcatosti idejama i slikama, kompozicija je možda malo popustila: ovde ima materijala za bar dve knjige, a etape Matembinog puta/života ponekad su malo sažetije i odsečnije prikazane nego što bih to volela, ali u suštini, zamerka mi se svodi na to da je knjiga prekratka za to koliko je dobra, pa... odbacite je.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Srdjana

    Mnogo mi se dopada zamisao. Malo me je udavila, ali sam je pred kraj progutala. Radnja tera čoveka da se zapita o mnogim stvarima. Super je! :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This is a more challenging book than I've been reading lately, and that's a pity because I now remember that reading challenging books is a much more satisfying experience. The Broken Land is challenging in all the right ways. The prose is dense but beautifully packed with imagery, the sort of descriptions you read twice to fully understand and three times just because they're so moving. McDonald has created a politically, culturally and ethically complex world. Wikipedia will tell you he writes This is a more challenging book than I've been reading lately, and that's a pity because I now remember that reading challenging books is a much more satisfying experience. The Broken Land is challenging in all the right ways. The prose is dense but beautifully packed with imagery, the sort of descriptions you read twice to fully understand and three times just because they're so moving. McDonald has created a politically, culturally and ethically complex world. Wikipedia will tell you he writes about the effect of technology and colonialism on developing countries and sure, that's true, but The Broken Land does not read like a Novel With An Important Message About Colonialism. It's a novel about characters, about fully believable individuals who make up fully believable townships that make up fully believable cultural groups and countries, and how they interact with each other to beautiful or tragic effect.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    I've had a review copy of this for ages. I was slightly put off by negative/ambivalent reviews, but this ended up being really, really fascinating. I'm a little taken aback by the fact that people see Israel/Palestine here and not Catholics/Protestants in Northern Ireland -- I mean, come on: the language thing, read Translations by Brian Friel, and Confessors vs. Proclaimers... The language thing especially got to me, because you know, I'm Welsh and I live in Wales and yes, half the place named I've had a review copy of this for ages. I was slightly put off by negative/ambivalent reviews, but this ended up being really, really fascinating. I'm a little taken aback by the fact that people see Israel/Palestine here and not Catholics/Protestants in Northern Ireland -- I mean, come on: the language thing, read Translations by Brian Friel, and Confessors vs. Proclaimers... The language thing especially got to me, because you know, I'm Welsh and I live in Wales and yes, half the place named are bastardised into English, and there was the whole issue of the Welsh Not and the Treachery of the Blue Books and... so many of the issues spoke to me. Others, of course, do speak to other conflicts, to other people's; to discrimination anywhere and everywhere. It's not purely about Ireland or Israel or anywhere: it's about a land, any land, splitting itself in half. And maybe, maybe, coming together again afterwards. The writing style is different -- more reported speech than direct speech, a narrator that's liquid and loose, more like a thought than a sentence spoken aloud. The world is fascinating, some of the characters really intrigued me, but somehow it was that liquidity, that flow, that really made the story fly by for me. It's easier if you just immerse yourself in it and go go go; harder if you try to overthink it. It's a dizzingly different world, and yet so much the same. In other words, I was completely hooked and must read more Ian McDonald books.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Milan

    Ono što je meni, kao osobi koja je odrastala tokom zabavnih događaja destrukcije koji su zahvatili prostore bivše Jugoslavije da bi se zatim čini se trajno naselili u Srbiji, učinilo posebno interesantnim tokom čitanja romana Srca, ruke i glasovi jeste što sam u opisima događaja prepoznavao obrasce ponašanja i događaje iz naše neposredne prošlosti. U jednom trenutku romana, na primer, Nacionalisti presreću autobus i iz njega, na osnovu ličnih dokumenata otkrivaju, i izvode Imperijaliste i na licu Ono što je meni, kao osobi koja je odrastala tokom zabavnih događaja destrukcije koji su zahvatili prostore bivše Jugoslavije da bi se zatim čini se trajno naselili u Srbiji, učinilo posebno interesantnim tokom čitanja romana Srca, ruke i glasovi jeste što sam u opisima događaja prepoznavao obrasce ponašanja i događaje iz naše neposredne prošlosti. U jednom trenutku romana, na primer, Nacionalisti presreću autobus i iz njega, na osnovu ličnih dokumenata otkrivaju, i izvode Imperijaliste i na licu mesta ih ubijaju. Samo zato što su pripadnici druge vere i nacije. Gotovo istovetan stvarni događaj je opisan pre nekoliko godina i u našoj štampi. Ovo je samo jedan od primera u kojima sam prepoznao događaje, ljude i mentalitete kojima smo mi u Srbiji bili svedoci. Možda je baš zbog te bliskosti sa temom ovo najbolji roman Ijana Mekdonalda koji sam pročitao. Svakako je njegovo delo koje mi se najviše dopalo. Ovo je dobra knjiga koja zahteva strpljenje i pažnju tokom čitanja. Izbegavajte da je čitate u gradskom prevozu ili u kafićima i fakultetskim čitaonicama u kojima je velika larma.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    This is an older book, first published in the early nineties, and a true classic. Mathembe Fileli is a girl on the verge of womanhood living in a village on a far-future Earth, an Earth where biotechnology is the main technology, the dominant technology even in the areas where mechanical technology is still used. It's also a world with strong ethnic and religious divides, with the Proclaimer and Confessor religious split even on such seemingly minor points as which hand should be your dominant on This is an older book, first published in the early nineties, and a true classic. Mathembe Fileli is a girl on the verge of womanhood living in a village on a far-future Earth, an Earth where biotechnology is the main technology, the dominant technology even in the areas where mechanical technology is still used. It's also a world with strong ethnic and religious divides, with the Proclaimer and Confessor religious split even on such seemingly minor points as which hand should be your dominant one. The Emperor Across the River, though, is a Proclaimer, and so the political power lies with the Proclaimers. Despite that, the Filelis' home village of Chepsenyt is a peaceful and congenial place for the most part--until the fateful day that Proclaimer and Confessor villagers alike decide to shelter some young rebels, Warriors of Destiny, from the brutal justice of the Emperor's soldiers. From that moment, Chepsenyt is doomed. When the soldiers descend, destroying the village and driving the villagers out, Mathembe manages to rescue her grandfather's head from the Dreaming Tree before the soldiers burn the grove. For most of the rest of the book, she has her grandfather's head with her, and receives advice, encouragement, and abuse from the dead-but-not-really old man. That is not the weirdest thing in this book. The language is lush and beautiful, the plotting complex and excellent, and the characterization subtle and nuanced. It's an allegory of ethnic and religious conflict, and yet McDonald is telling a story whose meaning emerges from its substance, not wrapping a message in the sugar coating of a story. It was perfectly clear to me that this is an allegory of Northern Ireland, of Catholics and Protestants, Irish and English. For others, though, it will be equally clear that this tale represents South Africa, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the partition of the Indian subcontinent, or some other conflict that isn't even on my horizon. This is rich, dense literature, not an easy read at all, and certainly not for everyone. For those who connect with it, though, it's immensely rewarding. Recommended. I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tomislav

    I read Ian McDonald’s 1992 science fiction novel, The Broken Land, in an older trade-sized US paperback. I have previously read a few of his other books (The Dervish House, Brasyl, and Desolation Road), and now that I’m looking, I see that I have given them all high ratings. Does that make me an Ian McDonald fan? Under its original UK title, Hearts, Hands and Voices, this book was nominated for the 1993 British SF Association Award and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, but did not win either. For some un I read Ian McDonald’s 1992 science fiction novel, The Broken Land, in an older trade-sized US paperback. I have previously read a few of his other books (The Dervish House, Brasyl, and Desolation Road), and now that I’m looking, I see that I have given them all high ratings. Does that make me an Ian McDonald fan? Under its original UK title, Hearts, Hands and Voices, this book was nominated for the 1993 British SF Association Award and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, but did not win either. For some unknown reason, there does not seem to be an e-book available for this work at this time, under either title. This novel follows Mathembe Fileli, a young woman, born in a richly textured homeland on a future human world. That land was once a separate state, but has long been a province of the great Empire Across the River. Nativist and Colonial cultures have coexisted in the land for centuries, but the process of division and escalation to violence has begun. The structure of the novel is that of a set of episodic novellas, advancing forward through the life of Mathembe and her family. McDonald is Scottish/Irish, and his family moved from England to Northern Ireland in the 1960s when he was a child. His experience growing up there, living through the entirety of the ‘Troubles’, shapes the political and social arc of the setting. However, the novel was released in 1992, and news accounts of several incidents of Balkan ethnic cleansing have also found their way into this story. These real-world examples are the templates on which McDonald patterns a nationalist conflict that leverages religious polarization. At the same time, this is science fiction of a sub-genre sometimes known as biopunk. Two technological revolutions have transformed this world away from one like our own: 1) the development of a synthetic polymer that acts as a living organism, and 2) the discovery of a genetically tailored virus that enables the human nervous system to manipulate living tissues at a molecular level. That so-called Green Wave happened centuries ago, but the religious response to it persists in a variety of ways – some of which fuel a divergence in what is considered moral and permissible in lifestyles. The cultural consequences are long-established and have evolved towards a tolerant coexistence, until re-enflamed by events. In the final episode, McDonald introduces a new religious concept, which is enabled by surgical modification of its adherents. The writing takes on a new perspective with regard to spirituality, having previously treated religion purely as a tool of political conflict. I have no real issue with that spiritual orientation, although it is not possible without the technological innovations mentioned earlier. It is a transformative and hopeful response to seemingly irreconcilable conflict, but it would have been nice if there had been more indications that this new religion existed, earlier in the novel. So, top ratings for McDonald’s sophisticated writing style, a creative setting, and an important message, but knocked down a bit for the ending.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    It's not an easy read, that's for sure. A few hours after finishing, I'm still drained. Not quite sure what to think. Lost in a crazy dream tapestry that encompasses everything good and everything bad, everything new and everything old, everything now and everything before and everything that ever will be or might be. That's how big this book is. That's the scope of its universe. Perhaps the most disturbing images in The Broken Land are the people who've been planted in the ground to die. Or the g It's not an easy read, that's for sure. A few hours after finishing, I'm still drained. Not quite sure what to think. Lost in a crazy dream tapestry that encompasses everything good and everything bad, everything new and everything old, everything now and everything before and everything that ever will be or might be. That's how big this book is. That's the scope of its universe. Perhaps the most disturbing images in The Broken Land are the people who've been planted in the ground to die. Or the grandfather's head that the protagonist, Mathembe, carries around with her for most of the book. But there are so many other visions, horrible yet somehow wonderful in their vastness, that it's hard to say what parts affected me the most. The structure of this novel is reminiscent of something by Jonathan Irving. It's all over the place, with plots and subplots and sideplots, characters that reinventthemselves and characters that do not change at all...crazy events that somehow all come together at the end. So that's what it was all about, I thought after finishing it. So that was what everything was leading up to. Often I'll find myself unable to put a book down because I am so involved in it. This one, I kept putting down. Then I'd take a nap and find myself thinking about it, and I'd be drawn irresistibly back in to read a little more. This sequence was repeated over and over and over again until there was nothing left. It's that kind of book. Ian McDonald has created something truly unique here. Try it out. I don't think you'll be able to stop reading it either.

  10. 4 out of 5

    An Odd1

    "Grandfather was a tree. Father grew trux .. Mother could sing the double-helix song .. A house ran amok .. Split into its components" p1 " .. skittering thing like a walking umbrella .. alarmed the young organicals .. to the Proclaimer end of town" p2 scatter pieces of a puzzle. Words build a thorny barrier of odd spellings, names, and slow-emerging concepts. Exhausting. Mathembe converses in Old Speech with her (determined after many pages) late grandfather's head, among others being absorbed "Grandfather was a tree. Father grew trux .. Mother could sing the double-helix song .. A house ran amok .. Split into its components" p1 " .. skittering thing like a walking umbrella .. alarmed the young organicals .. to the Proclaimer end of town" p2 scatter pieces of a puzzle. Words build a thorny barrier of odd spellings, names, and slow-emerging concepts. Exhausting. Mathembe converses in Old Speech with her (determined after many pages) late grandfather's head, among others being absorbed into trees of Ancestor Grove. Hunting wild trux (living trucks, I think) for dynamic cross-breeding with their domesticated cultivars, Chepsenyt farmers find two rebel "Warriors of Destiny", that rival Proclaimers and Confessors both decide to hide from cruel soldiers of the Emporer Across the River. When "dyke bikes" (lesbian motorcycle cops) torture by electric shock stick a small boy "clean the shit and piss of the walls .. kiss goodbye to any thoughts you might have had .. to that pathetic object" (his personal jewels, so to speak) p28 -- enough.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Milele

    Surprisingly good, emotional, interesting, innovative.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian Talbot

    I couldn't make it 20 pages. the author is trying to introduce some sort of alternate world, but the avalanche of odd words without any anchor or any development of ANY character, led me to out this down.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Giuseppe Sardano

    Libro interessante, dove la guerra d'Irlanda viene reinterpretata come una fiaba fantascientifica. Il worldbuilding poco chiaro e i flussi di coscienza alla James Joyce però appesantiscono la storia, ma senza renderla indigesta.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    Surprising world. It's refreshing to read a book without being able to guess the next four moves.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Sorry, it's a DNF from me. Couldn't get into it at all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donyae Coles

    I was very intriqued by the world McDonald created but I couldn't stand the main character.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stefano T

    Ho fatto estrema fatica a finirlo, la storia sarebbe anche bella ma pesante....molto pesante.Peccato perchè altri libri dell'autore(la serie Luna) mi erano piaciuti molto.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Raj

    The Land is the last province of a dying Empire. It has had advanced biotechnology for a thousand years, but this land that should be paradise is riven by the same old evils of religious and nationalist violence. This is the story of Mathembe Fileli and her family who are made refugees in the conflict and Mathembe's trials and tribulations as she loses one after another of her relatives and has to rely only on herself to get through them all and find her family again. Like his first novel, Desola The Land is the last province of a dying Empire. It has had advanced biotechnology for a thousand years, but this land that should be paradise is riven by the same old evils of religious and nationalist violence. This is the story of Mathembe Fileli and her family who are made refugees in the conflict and Mathembe's trials and tribulations as she loses one after another of her relatives and has to rely only on herself to get through them all and find her family again. Like his first novel, Desolation Road, this is a very lyrical book. McDonald knows the rules of English very well, and knows exactly when and how he can break them with impunity. This makes for an exhilarating read. Mathembe, who has chosen never to speak, is a fascinating character who is very easy to empathise with, and the descriptions of the Land and Empire are wonderful; McDonald did a very neat trick of starting with a very narrow focus to his story and then slowly widened it so that you see the narrowness of the protagonist's world just as she does and your field of vision expands with hers. There's tantalising glimpses of the fact that there's an outside world beyond the Land and Empire and they are watching and judging, something that grounds the book in reality for me. Finally, the religious/nationalist conflict of the book is one that was reasonably close to home for me, and, I imagine, the author, given that he's lived most of his life in Northern Ireland.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    ...I've been thinking about how good a read this novel really is and I can't seem to make up my mind about it. The story is gripping and Mathembe a great character. I also liked the prose and McDonald's vision of what genetic research but I do think that for some readers the prose in particular is too much of a good thing. Some passages needed several rereads to be able to figure out what the author was trying to communicate, making the The Broken Land a slow read. Readers of main stream fiction ...I've been thinking about how good a read this novel really is and I can't seem to make up my mind about it. The story is gripping and Mathembe a great character. I also liked the prose and McDonald's vision of what genetic research but I do think that for some readers the prose in particular is too much of a good thing. Some passages needed several rereads to be able to figure out what the author was trying to communicate, making the The Broken Land a slow read. Readers of main stream fiction might enjoy the prose but it is probably too much of a science fiction novel to have a great appeal for that market. It probably isn't a novel for a large audience. It probably takes a very specific kind of reader to fully enjoy what McDonald was trying to do here. I think I may lake a bit of patience with his prose. The poetic quality of his writing is still present in his later novels but reigned in a bit more. It is a matter of preference but for me, that later style works better. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a science fiction novel that is challenging and offers both interesting concepts and a mastery of language, this novel would be a good choice. Just take your time reading it. Full Random Comments review

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Wow, this book is amazing and beautiful. Loved how the far-future world is so different and magical and intricately created, yet the issues and conflicts and the ways the conflicts play out are so incisively true to the world today. Loved the changes in perspective as heroine Mathembe grows and matures from a small-town oddball to a street-smart girl of the old city, then a resourceful refugee, and so on. It was so organic that halfway through the book, I wanted to start over from the beginning, Wow, this book is amazing and beautiful. Loved how the far-future world is so different and magical and intricately created, yet the issues and conflicts and the ways the conflicts play out are so incisively true to the world today. Loved the changes in perspective as heroine Mathembe grows and matures from a small-town oddball to a street-smart girl of the old city, then a resourceful refugee, and so on. It was so organic that halfway through the book, I wanted to start over from the beginning, to see that girl again, knowing what she would become. The social commentary cuts to the bone. It's painful to read, and I had to put it down for a while. But eventually I came to love the world and the characters so much, I was willing to feel their pain, just to be with them. The prose is as rich and flavorful as devil's food cake topped with fresh raspberries. It's magical and poetic. If you can't be bothered with descriptive language, skip this one, but I feel sorry for you for missing out on this lyrical, sensuous literary experience.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Hearts, Hands and Voices informs us on the stupidity of war, especially when fought over something trivial like different beliefs. We feel the plight of refugees, those who end up in the middle of fighting and devastation, getting separated from their lost ones without a choice or warning. It arouses our interest on how refugees cope, an always relevant issue. We feel sadness, anger and hope, hope that there may be an end to this horror as we are given a solution that fits in neatly with the bac Hearts, Hands and Voices informs us on the stupidity of war, especially when fought over something trivial like different beliefs. We feel the plight of refugees, those who end up in the middle of fighting and devastation, getting separated from their lost ones without a choice or warning. It arouses our interest on how refugees cope, an always relevant issue. We feel sadness, anger and hope, hope that there may be an end to this horror as we are given a solution that fits in neatly with the background and plot of the book. The book tries to persuade us that war is futile and unnecessary, I felt that it did a good job. The novel presents many new ideas; these include the idea of an organic world where all machines are completely environmentally friendly, the changing of a parent-child relationship to a new level when we discover new truths about our parents and it strengthened my opinion on the stupidity of war. It also provided hope on ending wars with a new discovery that would make fighting and anger obsolete.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    3.5 I admired this more than I liked it. Ian McDonald’s The Broken Land (Hearts, Hands and Voices in the UK) is a book I admired more than I loved. It’s an allegorical look at the horrors of civil war caused by religious zeal and division. The story is set in a fictional country that feels like it could be in a future Africa where biotechnology has led to the development of mechanical infrastructure that is part organic and part artificial intelligence. The citizens are divided by their religiou 3.5 I admired this more than I liked it. Ian McDonald’s The Broken Land (Hearts, Hands and Voices in the UK) is a book I admired more than I loved. It’s an allegorical look at the horrors of civil war caused by religious zeal and division. The story is set in a fictional country that feels like it could be in a future Africa where biotechnology has led to the development of mechanical infrastructure that is part organic and part artificial intelligence. The citizens are divided by their religious affiliation — some are Proclaimers and some are Confessors. All are subject to the Emperor who lives across the river. Our protagonist is a young woman named Mathembe who, because of her particular convictions, decides not to speak. Mathembe is a confessor, so she is skilled in the manipulation of genetic material to create new life. When members of her family die, their heads are attached to a huge tree where they are event... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fantasy Literature

    Ian McDonald’s The Broken Land (Hearts, Hands and Voices in the UK) is a book I admired more than I loved. It’s an allegorical look at the horrors of civil war caused by religious zeal and division. The story is set in a fictional country that feels like it could be in a future Africa where biotechnology has led to the development of mechanical infrastructure that is part organic and part artificial intelligence. The citizens are divided by their religious affiliation — some are Proclaimers and Ian McDonald’s The Broken Land (Hearts, Hands and Voices in the UK) is a book I admired more than I loved. It’s an allegorical look at the horrors of civil war caused by religious zeal and division. The story is set in a fictional country that feels like it could be in a future Africa where biotechnology has led to the development of mechanical infrastructure that is part organic and part artificial intelligence. The citizens are divided by their religious affiliation — some are Proclaimers and some are Confessors. All are subject to the Emperor who lives across the river. Our protagonist is a young woman named Mathembe who, because of her particular convictions, decides not to speak. Mathembe is a confessor, so she is skilled in the manipulation of genetic material to create new life. When members of her family die, their heads are attached to a huge tree where they are event... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patricia McLean

    I think I will always enjoy reading an Ian McDonald novel even when I am not entirely satisfied with it. McDonald renders a fabulous, seamless world in which is well-realized main character battles for survival. I imagine being a Palestinian must be very much like being a Confessor, and I imagine partition in the Indian subcontinent is a parallel to the partitioning of the Proclaimer and Confessor lands of The Broken Land. McDonald's desire to imagine a way for humanity to find peace is the argu I think I will always enjoy reading an Ian McDonald novel even when I am not entirely satisfied with it. McDonald renders a fabulous, seamless world in which is well-realized main character battles for survival. I imagine being a Palestinian must be very much like being a Confessor, and I imagine partition in the Indian subcontinent is a parallel to the partitioning of the Proclaimer and Confessor lands of The Broken Land. McDonald's desire to imagine a way for humanity to find peace is the argument at the heart of this book. I shall not spoil it by telling whether or not I agree with his conclusion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Craig Ruaux

    Ian McDonald is a bit of a stylist, and in some of his other work (the utterly awesome Desolation Road, for instance), the style and the substance gel together wonderfully. In The Broken Land the style sometimes gets in the road, which is a pity, as there is clever substance here too. Overall, "it was OK", as my two star score would suggest, but I would not recommend it as a first entry into Ian McDonald's body of work. Ian McDonald is a bit of a stylist, and in some of his other work (the utterly awesome Desolation Road, for instance), the style and the substance gel together wonderfully. In The Broken Land the style sometimes gets in the road, which is a pity, as there is clever substance here too. Overall, "it was OK", as my two star score would suggest, but I would not recommend it as a first entry into Ian McDonald's body of work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marko Radosavljevic

    Dosta nepitkiji od Bespuća,nekako mi je ovaj roman baš pogodil metu.Nažalost,aktuelna tema migracije stanovništva,sukoba i nerazumevanja za druge kulture.Film u nezavisnoj produkciji sniman po ovoj knjizi bi me baš uveselio...pusti snovi....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin Elliott

    Loved it. Second book I read by Ian McDonald.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Oscar

    Oh my God, what a terrible book. It was like a slam poet tries making a sci-fi book. It. Doesn't. Work.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alex Mackenzie

    Another classic by McDonald. A brilliant world of such meaningful analogies to keep the reader unable to stop and take a break. Brilliant novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    sil

    Beautiful prose, fascinating world-building, allegorical without being preachy. Perhaps my favorite of his books that I've yet read.

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