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That which yields...

One of the early reviewers of The General's Mistress compared Elza to Jacqueline Carey's Phedre, which couldn't please me more because Kushiel's Dart is one of my favorite books! Comparing Elza to Phedre is a very apt comparison.

"That which yields is not always weak" is Phedre's motto, and it could be Elza's as well. Over and over she is underestimated because she yields. Elza seems to step to the side, to give in to someone else's wishes, to submit -- and each time it brings her one step closer to her own desires. She submits -- and in doing so achieves her goals, whether that's survival or victory. She surrenders on her terms, and by doing so carries the day. But that's the mistake that others make about her over and over -- they think that a pretty blonde, a courtesan, an actress, a woman, is a piece of fluff. She's frivolous, she's manicured, she's sexual. And so they never notice that she's winning until it's checkmate.

Never bet against Elza in the long game. She always wins in the end. Her goal may not have been what you thought it was, or what you think it ought to be, but somehow each retreat brings her a step closer.

Like Phedre, to give is her nature. She needs to devote herself, to strive and be consumed, and giving her all is not bondage to her, but freedom. That's one thing she's learning in the first book, The General's Mistress. Her freedom is in service. Her happiness is in devoting her all to something larger than herself, and to those who are worthy of her trust. She's not an island, and she cannot be happy "virgin" and untouched. She is a blade meant to shine in use.

"That which yields is not always weak." Elza yields. And triumphs.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
jo_graham
Oct. 12th, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC)
I love Phedre too. She's such an amazing departure. I think readers who like Phedre will like Elza. There is a good deal of common ground, and also a lot of stylistic similarity, if I can say so! I think you can see the influence of Mary Renault clearly on both me and Jacqueline Carey. And I think there is some commonality between Jocelin and Michel.
gilraen2
Oct. 12th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Can't wait for this to come out! I have it on pre-order at Amazon.
jo_graham
Oct. 12th, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I hope you enjoy it.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )