Published first as "Geta", later as "Courtship Rite"--I think neither title does justice to this fine novel. It ought to be called "The Marriage of Six". Almost two books in one, the first part is a masterful piece of world-building. It introduces characters that shine with complex humanity and weaves their lives together in an engrossing adventure that builds to a harrowing climax. Other novels would end there, but this one, like life itself, moves on. "Who says beginnings are more interesting than middles or endings?" asks one character--and the author shows us that they aren't. Just as an old friend occasionally reveals a new bit of their past, shifting your perception of their entire history, the author saves some of the strangest and most fundamental revelations about his characters for the story's end. The last chapters are a beautiful and reflective coda to the first part of the book; they're a meditation on the many faces of love, the limits of loyalty, and the meaning of marriage. The people of Geta practice a unique form of polygamy, but this novel's emotional center--the quest of the central characters to form a marriage of six, the finest and most balanced team in their society--will ring true to anyone who has ever fallen in love and tried to create a family.