Foreword Reviews

Geometries of Belonging

Stories & Poems from the Birdverse

A collection of stories and poems, R. B. Lemberg’s Geometries of Belonging compiles and expands on the immersive fantasy world of the Birdverse.

The collection’s greatest strength is its balance–not a single note is wasted or misplaced in this fantastical symphony. Loss pairs with triumph, redemption clashes with betrayal, and searching (for belonging, purpose, answers, and love) is a unifying theme. Love is present in all its forms, depicted as both a saving grace and a destructive force; the unadorned, at times unflattering verisimilitude of these depictions brings resonant realism to the high-fantasy atmosphere.

Some entries play on stories from within the Birdverse: “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” draws on the novella The Four Profound Weaves; “Ranra’s Unbalancing” and “Where Your Quince Trees Grow” mine familiar territory for readers of The Unbalancing. Whether drawing from established Birdverse lore or not, all entries are devoid of exposition, a hallmark of Lemberg’s prose; the world of the Birdverse reveals itself only as much as is necessary, and always in its own time.

“The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar” is a standout addition. The epistolary entry tracks years of correspondance between Vadrai, a jeweler who lives in the northern forests, and Maru, a desert glassmaker. Their tender vulnerability and fierce passion for their crafts and for each other is stirring. And “Geometries of Belonging” is poignant in its close narration. Parét, a mind healer, is summoned to help gender-nonconforming Dedéi, whose family believes their nonbinary nature is due to sickness. Parét is determined to help Dedéi, but political machinations by Dedéi’s grandfather, a rival of Parét’s lord and lover, make assistance a risky endeavor.

Human connection and resilience are the most powerful magic of all in the fantasy collection Geometries of Belonging.

Reviewed by Danielle Ballantyne

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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