The Bruising of Qilwa

176 pages

English language

Published Sept. 24, 2022 by Tachyon Publications.

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4 stars (2 reviews)

In this intricate debut fantasy introducing a queernormative Persian-inspired world, a nonbinary refugee practitioner of blood magic discovers a strange disease that causes political rifts in their new homeland. Persian-American author Naseem Jamnia has crafted a gripping narrative with a moving, nuanced exploration of immigration, gender, healing, and family. Powerful and fascinating, The Bruising of Qilwa is the newest arrival in the era of fantasy classics such as the Broken Earth Trilogy, The Four Profound Weaves, and Who Fears Death.

Firuz-e Jafari is fortunate enough to have immigrated to the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa, fleeing the slaughter of other traditional Sassanian blood magic practitioners in their homeland. Despite the status of refugees in their new home, Firuz has a good job at a free healing clinic in Qilwa, working with Kofi, a kindly new employer, and mentoring Afsoneh, a troubled orphan refugee with powerful magic.

But Firuz and Kofi …

3 editions

Bruising of Qilwa

4 stars

This book was a delight in a lot of ways. I'd describe this as a medical fantasy ~mystery with a non-binary[*] refugee protagonist Firuz, their trans brother Parviz, and the orphan Afsoneh that they've rescued and included in their family. Firuz overworks themselves in a local clinic to support their family while trying to keep their blood magic a secret and also investigate a mysterious illness.

Even though there's plenty of heavy topics here, it is refreshing how queernormative of a world this is. Firuz and Parviz are never mispronouned. There's one character that has two moms that is unremarked on. Parviz is looking for an alignment spell (i.e. magical gender transition) and Firuz has gone through the same. Firuz's Sassanian culture introduces people with pronouns almost like a title, e.g. they-Firuz or she-Afsoneh which is a fun detail.

In some ways, this reminded me in some ways of The …