I just adore Flora Fyrdraaca. There it is. She feels like a real, stubborn, particular, peculiar person to me. And the world she lives in is just a joy. A scary, funny, odd joy complete with flies and dishonest bed and breakfast owners, and cranky shapeshifters with abandoment issues, and all of it touched with the magic of genuine weirdness. These books make me happy.
Much of the happy is that they are fun, and the characters are terrific, and the world is creative and intricate and unusual. But like icing on an already delicious cake, not the least of the happy is that Ysabeau Wilce is one of a few wonderful fantasy authors who have realized that their creations don't have to share our history of gender because hey, this is a made up world!!
People in this made up world don't have to be sexist homophobes just because that's part of the history of the reality we do our grocery shopping in. It isn't a given that the same bigotries have to travel into every fantasy novel, along with faux medieval speech and a guy with a slop bucket and a leather apron. Makes me slap my forehead and go duh! how did it take me so long to realize that?
Our heroine has her struggles and difficulties sure - her bad temper, her confusing heritage, her goofy dog, her Aztec overlords, but she never has to struggle with being dismissed or hassled because she has the wrong arrangement of genitalia. Her male friends don't have to fight to defend their masculinity every time they put on an item of clothing that isn't brown or grey. The degree to which this makes me just plain giddy is a little scary.
It makes me realize how unconsciously I carry around the weight of sexism, because that's just how the world is, and no point railing against it. But when I run into a world where that isn't part of the price of admission, it’s a little bit like taking off a heavy coat you'd forgotten you were wearing.
It frees me to participate in this world in a spirit of joyous play. It frees up reserves of energy that I usually have to dedicate to shoveling the sexist bullshit into a bucket in the corner and holding down the lid so that I can focus on the other perfectly good and enjoyable things that are also going on instead of just being mad and sad.
I know, I know, there are lots of stories in which the characters struggle bravely and even sometimes successfully against the sexism and homophobia of their worlds. Those are good stories too. But this is a story where nobody has to struggle with it, because its just gone. Which makes me silly happy. And so I love Flora Fydraaca.