Cover of Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen

Sister Light, Sister Dark

Based on a short story of the same name written for Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s anthology “Heroic Visions,” Sister Light and its companion White Jenna comprise one single book. Published in 1988, the two would be put together in the late ’90s as The Books of Great Alta. (My husband always contended it was a single book and I had had a crises of faith about writing such a long piece.) The book is broken into sections: the story, the ballad, the history, the tale, etc. Each part goes toward telling the story of the young white-haired Jenna who is a child of prophecy called upon to reunite the broken kingdom of the Dales. The book is feminist and humanist at its core. The major magical set piece is that the women who live cloistered in Hames can call forth their shadow sisters, that Other side that makes them whole. All artfully (I hope) disguised as a novel of sword and sorcery. Eventually I wrote a third book (I thought killing off all the main characters would keep me from committing a trilogy, but those pesky critters have their own ideas!) Called The One Armed Queen, it takes the story one step further. There are English, Spanish and Japanese editions, and the book was a Nebula nominee. The Science Fiction Book Club published its own version of The Book of Great Alta.

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