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Sister Light, Sister Dark [Mass Market Paperback]

Jane Yolen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sept. 15 1989
The great goddess Alta creates two sister queens to rule the forces of darkness and light on Earth and challenges them to work in harmony as perfect and opposing reflections of one another. Reissue. PW.

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Review

"Lovers of fantasy will appreciate this title."--Library Journal
 
"Excellent!" --Locus
--This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Nowegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille.

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And the prophet says a white babe with black eyes shall be born unto a virgin in the winter of the year. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique epic March 3 2004
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the best reprints produced by Starscape books has been the reissue of Jane Yolen's Alta trilogy, the first of which is "Sister Light, Sister Dark." While it takes awhile to get going, this unique and imaginative fantasy book introduces us to a fantasy story that's both familiar and innovative.
Jenna was orphaned three times: Her mother died in childbirth, the midwife died while taking her away, and the warrior woman who adopted her was also killed. She's taken in collectively by the follows of Great Alta, a benevolent goddess. They're somewhat Amazonian -- there are no men in their "hames," they are warriors, farmers, priestesses, and everything else that they need to be.
But Jenna is different from the rest. There's a prophecy that a white-haired child who lost three mothers is the Anna, a savior who will change everything. Events are set into motion when Jenna and her friend Pynt encounter teenage prince Carum in the woods, who is being hunted by a vicious warrior. Killing the warrior and saving Carum leads to destruction for Jenna's home and family...
Jane Yolen crafts a wonderful, believable place in the Dales. Not only is it very detailed and plausible-sounding, but she also sprinkles it with songs and historical studies. While the Alta series is often labelled "feminist fantasy," there's no preaching or two-dimensional male characters. Yolen simply shows us Jenna and Pynt operating on the same level as Carum, and leaves it at that.
Her writing is earthy and has plenty of detail without bogging itself down. The concept of "dark sisters" (sort of a nighttime-only spiritual twin) is an unusual and well-crafted one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique epic March 3 2004
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the best reprints produced by Starscape books has been the reissue of Jane Yolen's Alta trilogy, the first of which is "Sister Light, Sister Dark." While it takes awhile to get going, this unique and imaginative fantasy book introduces us to a fantasy story that's both familiar and innovative.
Jenna was orphaned three times: Her mother died in childbirth, the midwife died while taking her away, and the warrior woman who adopted her was also killed. She's taken in collectively by the follows of Great Alta, a benevolent goddess. They're somewhat Amazonian -- there are no men in their "hames," they are warriors, farmers, priestesses, and everything else that they need to be.
But Jenna is different from the rest. There's a prophecy that a white-haired child who lost three mothers is the Anna, a savior who will change everything. Events are set into motion when Jenna and her friend Pynt encounter teenage prince Carum in the woods, who is being hunted by a vicious warrior. Killing the warrior and saving Carum leads to destruction for Jenna's home and family...
Jane Yolen crafts a wonderful, believable place in the Dales. Not only is it very detailed and plausible-sounding, but she also sprinkles it with songs and historical studies. While the Alta series is often labelled "feminist fantasy," there's no preaching or two-dimensional male characters. Yolen simply shows us Jenna and Pynt operating on the same level as Carum, and leaves it at that.
Her writing is earthy and has plenty of detail without bogging itself down. The concept of "dark sisters" (sort of a nighttime-only spiritual twin) is an unusual and well-crafted one. The only problem is that it takes quite some time for the plot to get moving, and it's a jolt when it finally does; we go from no action to all-action in an instant.
Jenna is an excellent reluctant lead. Her mixed feelings (she both wants and doesn't want to be the Anna) are quite plausible, as are her strength and gutsiness. She's not some sort of supergirl; she cries, feels pain and loneliness like anyone else. Pynt is a good sidekick, with her mischievous attitude. And Carum is a strong counterpart (and romantic interest) to Jenna.
Since "Sister Light Sister Dark" ends on an unfinished note, readers will want to check out the second volume of the trilogy (also available from Starscape) "White Jenna." A unique epic fantasy.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely April 24 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Sister Light, Sister Dark" and its sequel, "White Jenna," hold places of honor on my bookshelves.
The story is about Jenna, a thrice-orphaned girl of the Dales (a fictional region) being raised by followers of Great Alta, the Goddess. These women--mostly unwanted daughters of local peasants--train for years to call up their "dark sisters." Jenna, who was born with completely white hair, may be the Anna foretold in prophecy.
Stuff happens.
Interspersed among the actual narrative chapters are ballads and myths of the Dales, as well as a pretentious contemporary historian's interpretation of the events of the story. Through his impeccable application of scientific method to historical research, he manages to get just about everything completely wrong. It's hilarious.
The third volume in this trilogy, "The One-Armed Queen," was a disappointment to me. While it was a good book in its own right, to me it didn't feel related to the other two--it worked on its own, but it was not part of the series. It concerns Jenna's one-armed adopted daughter Scillia, who seemed much less interesting than Jenna. Oh, well.
I highly recommend the first two books.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review Feb. 21 2010
By Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I believe that I have read this book over a dozen times. I ran across the first book of the trilogy when I was vacationing at my grandparents lake house in rural Wisconsin. With no TV and only country music to listen to, I would read through the science fiction/fantasy novels that my grandma stored on the shelves. I instantly became drawn to this book, it's characters, and it's story line. Maybe because I was around the same age as the main character, or maybe because it was such a great story, I'm not sure. Still, 14 years later, I'm still re-reading this fantastic book - and it never gets old. Jane Yolen is now one of my most beloved authors and have read many of her books. All of this to say... I highly recommend it. :)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women warriors, fog demons, goddesses; this book has it all! July 1 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I thought that this was a great book and a credit to Jane Yolen! Her interweaving of historical accounts along with a bit of fantasy flair will draw readers into the book as soon as they pick it up! The wonderful harmony between fact and fiction is a winner! The story of a seemingly ordinary girl, who wept, hurt, and bled like an ordiary child becomes the goddess on Earth, also called the Anna, of the Upper Dales. The book comes complete with myths, parables, historical summaries, and for all of you out there who like music, songs complete with a score. The historical accounts can at times be dry, but are also exeedingly interesting. A winner on all acounts
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a wonderful story and I cannot wait for the sequel!!! July 18 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this book a few years ago when I was helping out in my school's library. I looked it over and since I had read another of her books I tried it. It was so well written that I couldn't put it down!!! Congradulations to Jane Yolen on her wonderful gift of story telling. The characters were real and the blend between the past and fantasy was awesome!!!!
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