Staffer Zoé Nellum tells us why we should give The Falconer our attention.
The Falconer by Elizabeth May is one of the most recent high fantasy novels I’ve read, and I was not disappointed. With authentic characters, intricate and immersive setting, it makes for a heart-string tugging plot I wanted to see through. May’s book represents the real meaning of vengeance and identity in a uniform society, which is usually a very hard concept to address in fictional worlds even if they do have these elements. Regardless of this being written in 2013, it is still a relevant piece in present day. I believe this book can definitely affect the community of teenage female readers and aspiring-writers.
The main character, Alieana, is well-rounded and cannot exactly fit neatly into the common literature stereotypes or tropes of a female lead. She is strong in the body, but weak to a certain extent in the mind. To set things up, Aileana is a debutante who doesn’t really have an interest in formal events, but faery hunting. When she was young, a certain faery killed her mother and so Alieana seeks revenge. But since everyone believes faeries are myths and that it wouldn’t be right for a girl to be in combat anyways, she keeps it a secret. Her hatred for faeries and her apathy towards societal roles conflicts with how she associates herself with two faeries she trains and lives with, the ones who accept her. Everything is so complex in her nature, as any human and woman is and should be represented. She lives a double life, and I feel as though plenty of girls from an early age may feel that way without even knowing how to recognize it. Those who identify as female are often told to act a certain way in public, be ladylike, be motherly, and never pick fights. Then they are to be told at other times be whoever you want to be, you are equal, you can fight for what you want. These are the lives they must live simultaneously without ever having the two identities collide or else they’ll pay with prejudice and disdain. In The Falconer, the protagonist struggles internally with this issue as she hides her secret hunter life from her friends and family, whilst keeping quiet her posh livelihood from the faery she trains with.
I love this book so much. Fantasy and real life issues are not usually well delivered to younger audiences. But May makes sure to speak loud and clear about the roles of gender in society. As a hook, her writing is exquisitely beautiful and in a sense, quite quaint. It gives you the picturesque gloom of Scotland and the mythical loom of deathly creatures that seek to eat human souls. The Falconer has incredible balance between action, drama, and romance, something some of the ‘classics’ do not fully accomplish. The Falconer is simply one hell of a tale, and one hell of an eye-opener to current issues that I and numerous other women care most about.