Terai looked at him strangely. “You are an odd man,” she remarked at last.
“I am a crow,” Nawat said without thinking.
I read Nawat by Tamora Pierce late one night, in the wee hours. I had napped earlier in the evening and between that earlier sleep and the meds I was taking to rid myself of a damnable infection, sleep was a bit long in coming.
Before bed the previous couple of nights, my cold-addled brain and I had been working my way through Ms. Pierce’s Tortall & Other Lands short story collection and enjoying it immensely, but Nawat rather stopped me in my tracks. And also made me incredibly jealous.
It gives nothing away to say that the title character is a crow who, along with his war band, has taken human form and found a human woman as his mate, Queen Dove’s fierce spymaster. Said mate is in the process of giving birth to their children (triplets) at the start of the tale and the story moves on from there, exploring new fatherdom through the eyes of a crow/man and his kin of all forms.
I was sure as I read the story that there was more to the tale, that surely these characters were in some other books (and they were!!! yay!) and at the same time, everything was summed up and referenced so perfectly that it really didn’t matter. A whole world came to life and existed in those 71 pages, without need for anything more to flesh it out. A true example of great short story writing.
And it was a great tale, too. I loved the twists and turns it took, and how full every character felt. But there was something very frustrating about it as a writer. I would read a sentence and think “If I was writing this, I would love to see him do ____ or act like ____ or have this or that facet of a real crow.” And damn, if the very next sentence didn’t show exactly that. I spent the entire story swooning over it and at the same time being totally miffed that I couldn’t use any of the ideas that came to me because I would be plagiarizing without even trying.
So, thank you, Tamora Pierce, for writing a story that I wish with all my heart I had written. I’m grateful that I got to read more about Nawat and his mate and get even more frustrated at how awesome they are, even though they’re not mine.