Title: A Brother’s Price
Author: Wen Spencer
Written & Published: 2005
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world where the women outnumber the men? Wen Spencer contemplated that question, and A Brother’s Price provides an engaging answer. The story follows Jerin Whistler as his sisters try to find a good family for him to marry. His life becomes complicated when he rescues one of the royal sisters after she is attacked. This story has a little bit of everything – romance, treason, mystery and murder – without feeling as if it is trying to tick off a list of literary devices.
One of the best aspects to this novel is that the story and the world fit perfectly together. This story could not happen in any other culture, and while the world is intricate the details do not overwhelm the narrative. There is an obvious cultural evolution in the backstory, and the result is a society that is well planned from the large economic and gender structures down to advertising and print media.
If you are looking for a story with strong female characters, this is a good book to read. The women of this world wear their hats pulled low and their guns slung lower. Groups of sisters are treated as a single legal unit, with all sisters sharing the blame or the glory equally. There are strong traits that define groups, and the individuals within those groups also have memorable quirks. Disagreements in the book have a strangely collaborative quality, and they become even more interesting with the world’s shift in values.
My main criticism of this book is that the gender disparity is never outlined. This is not a problem for pleasure reading, but it does become irritating if you are attempting to analyse the world. Jerin’s family have 4 boys and 28 girls, which makes them remarkable. Other families can have 20 or 30 daughters without a single son. The reason for this disparity is barely touched on; the explanation given is that most boys are lost to miscarriage and stillbirth because the gods prefer to take boys.
This book has a lot of humour and emotion, which means it can be reread without losing much. Most of the jokes become funnier with each reading as you become familiar with the characters. It is a great book to revisit on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and for this reason I am giving it 5 out of 5 stars.