Through a Brazen Mirror is the third book in The Ultra Violet Library, Circlet's imprint of fantasy and science fiction by/for/about lesbian/gay/bi folk. Originally published in 1989 by mass market publisher Ace, the book was marketed as generic sword and sorcery and, in the way of mass market books, disappeared from sight shortly thereafter, before it had a chance to reach an audience who would appreciate its themes.
Based on an ancient Anglo-Scots ballad called "The Famous Flower of Serving Men" (a magical, tragic tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man after the murder of her husband), Through a Brazen Mirror tells the tale of the witch Margaret, her daughter Elinor, King Lionel, and the extraordinary William Flowers, who saves the king from doom and Margaret's malevolent magic. With much richness of detail and folklore, Sherman uses the tale to explore issues of attraction, loyalty, and gender identity. For William is Elinor, who as William bonds with the young king and takes charge of a fate that was to be her undoing.
The book, though it takes place in a fictional kingdom, is no cleaned-up fairy tale, and presents a historical picture of life circa 1400. In an age when women are not taught to read or write, both Margaret, as an evil schemer, and Elinor, who must take on a man's name and countenance, fight for their self-determination, each in her own way.
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When it first appeared in print in mass market in 1989, Sherman's (The Porcelain Dove) debut novel, a queer fantasy, won a John W. Campbell Award nomination. No wonder: Sherman's grasp of setting, language and human behavior snare the reader deeply into the story of a widowed woman's search for peace and survival. The handsome king in this tale has a taste for the strapping young men around him. The gentle maidens swoon over a quiet and romantically somber youth, who is, in fact, a woman in disguise. And the sorceress that bedevils the kingdom of Albia grows queasy at the thought of being touched by another man after her reluctant submission to the sorcerer who trained her. Is this a ribald escapade of explicit sex? Hardly. Sherman's deft touch reveals her characters' desires in a subtle yet unapologetic manner. She presents not the typical sword-and-sorcery fantasy, but a tale that takes a realistic--and captivating--look at medieval times. (Sept.) FYI: The Porcelain Dove won the 1994 Mythopoeic Award.
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Book Description Ace Fantasy, New York, 1989. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. First Printing. Bookseller Inventory # AAA7006
Book Description Ace, 1989. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110441896871
Book Description Ace. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0441896871 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1094991
Book Description Ace, 1988. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0441896871