Vessel: The Coolest Book You’ve Never Heard Of

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Okay, maybe not. I don’t know what books you’ve heard of. And there are tons of really cool books out there. But the point is: you probably haven’t heard of this book, but it’s amazing and you should have.

It’s amazing for the boring old reasons all good books are good: great characters that you care about, interesting plot twists, a seasoning of moral and ethical questions.

What I am perhaps most impressed with in this book is that there is no villain. Creating a novel without a real villain is a truly difficult task. There is one character who emerges, towards the end, as a sort of villain–but even he is a relatable character and far from pure evil.

Mind, there are plenty of terrible deeds in this book. Gods come to desert tribes once every century, and they do so by killing a human member of the tribe, hollowing out his or her skin, and wearing the person until the body’s natural death. When a sacrifice fails, a vessel can be abandoned by her family and loved ones, or even murdered by them. One person’s quest for life is another’s inevitable death. But even conquering emperors are not all that they appear.

At the heart of the story is, of course, the protagonist Liyana. Her quest is a strange one: it is paradoxically both a quest for life and death, for her own survival and her goddess’s, her tribe’s and her race’s futures. No victories are pure. I make it sound so serious, don’t I? But it’s one hell of a fun ride.

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