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4.5/5 (36 évaluations)
380 pages
5 heures
Sep 11, 2012


This atmospheric fantasy is, “from the gripping first line, a fast-paced, thought-provoking, and stirring story of sacrifice” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
Sep 11, 2012

À propos de l'auteur

Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of over twenty fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and The Stone Girl’s Story. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. For more information, visit her at sarahbethdurst.com.

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Meilleures citations

  • Trust your people, his father had often said. An emperor isn’t one person; an emperor is all people, the embodiment of the empire. Rule with them, not over them.He did trust them, at least most of them, on occasion and with supervision.

  • He fingered the sky serpent knife on his desk. She ached to take it back, take back her link with her family. “Tell me why you are truly here,” the emperor said.She thought of Bayla and the Goat Clan, of Pia and Fennik and their deities and clans . . .

  • The emperor plucked another date from the tray and held it up as if contemplating its color in the candlelight. He let the silence stretch. Liyana kept herself still and silent as well. She knew this was a tactic—Mother wielded silence as a weapon too.

  • I am your goddess, Bayla said. You belong to me! I am a free woman of the desert, and I belong to no one, Liyana said. I will give you this body of my own free will as soon as it’s safe to do so.

  • Still no one came to say good-bye to her. No one was willing to break tradition to give her a single embrace. Liyana was grateful for her own clan—at least she knew they cared about her before they left her to die.

Aperçu du livre

Vessel - Sarah Beth Durst


Chapter One

On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders. She had only moments before everyone would wake.

She fixed her eyes on the east, where the sky was bleached yellow in anticipation. Shadows marked each ridge, rock, and sand dune. Overhead, a few stubborn stars continued to cling to the sky, and a raven, black as a splinter of night, flew into the wind before angling toward the dark peaks of the distant mountains. Liyana felt the wind caress her cheeks and stir her hair. She’d left it loose last night, and she’d counted the strands when she couldn’t sleep. The wind stirred the sand at her feet, and it whistled over the dunes and rocks. She listened to it so intensely that every muscle in her body felt taut.

She had wanted to be calm today.

She’d heard a tale once about a man who had caught the first drop of sun. He’d kept it inside his lantern, and he never felt fear again. In his seventieth year, he was struck by a cobra, and he embraced the snake and called him brother—and then he died. Liyana thought he should have sliced the snake’s head off so at least the cobra wouldn’t bite the man’s family, too, but then again Mother always said Liyana had a decidedly practical streak in her.

On the horizon, the first drop of sun looked like liquid gold.Liyana stretched out her hands and imagined she were cupping it in her palms. As the light spread, it ran up her arms across her tattoos. She refused to look at the markings, and instead she marveled at the beauty of the sand dunes. In the dawn light, they blazed red.

Behind her, the tent flap was tossed open. Aunt Sabisa burst out of the tent, her chest heaving as if she’d run miles instead of the five steps from the sleeping rolls. You! You want to kill me!

A goat bleated at her.

I wake, and you’re not there. In, in, in! Aunt Sabisa fluttered around Liyana, shooing her toward the tent.

Liyana murmured the traditional apology to an elder whom one has deeply wronged, and then she commented, You have a lizard in your hair.

Aunt Sabisa’s hands flew to her head.

Liyana grinned as her aunt shrieked, danced, and flung the tiny lizard onto the ground. She stomped, still shrieking, as the terrified lizard burrowed into the sand and escaped. By the time Aunt Sabisa quit, at least a half dozen people had emerged to watch the spectacle, and another dozen had poked their heads out their tent flaps.

One of them was Jidali, Liyana’s four-year-old brother, who was stuffing a corner of the tent flap into his mouth in an effort not to laugh. His shoulders shook, and his eyes watered. Liyana winked at him, then pointed to a bare patch of sand and said in an innocent voice, Over there, Aunt Sabisa.

Aunt Sabisa pounded the sand, stomping so fast that she looked like a rabid jackrabbit. Jidali broke into peals of laughter that shook his whole body. Aunt Sabisa looked at the little boy who now writhed laughing half in and half out of the tent. She twitched her lips, and then her face broke into a smile. Laughter erupted from the nearby tents, and soon the desert rang with a mix of bell-like laughs and deep-bellied laughs. Liyana laughed with them.

Now that was a far better start to her last day.

Liyana let her aunt shepherd her inside. She squeezed Jidali’s hand as she passed, and his face seized up. She knew he’d remembered what day it was. She wanted to stop and embrace him, but as soon as she crossed the threshold, all her female relatives swarmed her, and she was swept to the back of the tent. She let the chatter wash over her—consternation over the state of her hair, the condition of her skin, the length of her fingernails—as they pushed her behind a blanket that had been strung up for privacy. Still clucking at her, the women removed Liyana’s nightshirt and positioned her, naked, in the center of a shallow, silver basin. Sponges were passed around and then dipped into a clay bowl of milk and honey. Liyana shuddered when the first sponge touched her skin.

You’ll warm again fast, one of her cousins told her.

But it wasn’t the cold that caused her skin to prickle. Only newborns and those near death were bathed in milk and honey. She smelled the sweet honey and the oversweet goat milk mixing together in a cloying scent that invaded her nostrils and filled her throat. She closed her eyes and waited for the bath to end.

Dabs of water washed the milky residue off her skin, and she was wrapped in cloth and dried as if she were a child. As they rubbed her so dry that her cinnamon-colored skin developed a pink tinge, her aunts and cousins chattered over her, touching on every topic but today’s ceremony.

When they finished, Liyana’s mother lifted her chin so that Liyana’s eyes would meet hers. You will wear your dancing dress all day today. Do try not to dirty it. She held Liyana’s gaze a moment longer than was warranted.

Liyana understood the message: Don’t disgrace us.

I must attend to the goats. Mother strode out, knocking aside the privacy blanket. Aunt Sabisa readjusted the blanket, and in the minute that followed Mother’s departure, no one spoke.

Liyana broke the silence. And I thought the dress was for Jidali. She knew it was a pathetic joke, but it was the best she could manage today. As if they knew that too, her aunts and cousins broke into gales of laughter. As they laughed, Liyana wondered if she would be spending today comforting her family, instead of the other way around.

She was presented first with the finest undergarments that she had ever seen. She fingered the fabric. It was as light and white as a cloud. My work, her aunt Andra claimed. Everyone cooed over the intricate weave. Liyana lifted her arms, and the slip was pulled over her head. It floated down around her body. She felt as if she were wearing a piece of the sky.

Next, the ceremonial dress. Aunt Sabisa brought it from the chest where it had lain, sealed against the desert dust. Everyone gasped as she displayed it, though everyone had seen it many times. Over the last year, every woman in the tribe had added seventy stitches of gold thread, and every man had tied seven knots, completing the pattern that matched Liyana’s tattoos. Liyana forced her face to curve into a smile and she put as much enthusiasm into her voice as she could muster. It is more beautiful than the sunrise.

Everyone murmured in agreement at this, and Liyana fought the urge to grab the dress, run outside, and thrust it into the clan fire. She felt her face grow hot, even though no one could hear her thoughts. Truly, the dress was beautiful. The bodice was a master­work of embroidery, and the skirt was composed of twenty panels, twice the usual number, each dyed a brilliant, jewel-like color. It would swirl around her when she danced. The sleeves would billow as well, her dress magnifying her every movement. Slits in the sleeve would cause the fabric to fall back and expose her decorated arms when she reached toward the sky. It fit her perfectly, and by tradition it would never be worn by another. Hers was the only skin it would ever touch. The sun and the stars will be jealous of me, she declared.

Her aunts and cousins liked that compliment, and Liyana saw only smiles as the dress was pushed over her head. She was caught inside the fabric, momentarily alone in a swirl of blue, red, and green so deep and rich that her head swam. It smelled of sage. A moment later the dress was cinched around her waist. Aunt Andra fitted shoes on her feet. They were of the softest leather but strong for dancing. Like the dress, these were finer than any shoes her toes had ever touched. She felt as if her feet were being caressed. She hoped the goddess wore these shoes often. They’d never cause a blister. That thought calmed her. She’d prepared her body well—her limbs were strong, her back was straight, her teeth were healthy—and now she wore fine shoes.

Hair! one of her cousins cried.

Watch for lizards, another said.

More laughter. Even Aunt Sabisa joined in.

Pushing aside the privacy blanket, the aunts and cousins swept Liyana to a stool by the cooking fire pit. All the men, including Jidali, had left the tent during the dressing. Six hands grabbed chunks of her hair, and Liyana did her best not to yelp as they raked combs through it. Once every knot was yanked to everyone’s satisfaction, more hands dove in to braid. By the end, Liyana felt as if every strand had been plucked out of her scalp. She touched her head to check that she still had hair. She felt dozens of braids. Each braid ended in a tiny silver bell. She jiggled her head, and the braids danced around her face. Her hair sang as crisply and clearly as a bird in mating season. I am a hunter’s worst nightmare, Liyana said.

One by one, her aunts and cousins kissed her cheeks. She’d be left makeup free so that the goddess could see clearly what her new face looked like. Liyana clenched her hands together on her lap as she received the kisses.

She would not allow a single tear.

Others would come soon, and she would not disgrace her family. Positioning herself on the stool, Liyana spread her skirt to display the elaborately embroidered panels so that her family could admire it as they departed. Two of her cousins flung the tent flap open and secured it on either side. Already, men and women milled outside. Her relatives filed out of the tent.

As the others left, Aunt Andra knelt next to Liyana. You will be asked by many to take messages into the Dreaming. Do not accept, but do not refuse.

Liyana nodded. She knew this.

But if you have the opportunity, please . . . tell my Booka that his herd fattens well and his son . . . Tell him we are well, and we miss him.

Liyana swallowed. Her throat felt thick. I am certain Uncle Booka is waiting for you.

Aunt Andra half smiled. Of course he is. That man never did anything without my permission, except die. She left the tent, the last of the aunts and cousins to exit.

Liyana was alone.

Chapter Two

The tent smelled thick with her family’s sweat and the greasy tinge of last night’s dinner partially masked by a layer of burnt sage. Her own skin smelled sweet, and she felt stickiness behind her ears and in the pits of her knees where her relatives had missed rinsing the honey milk. She’d been left these few moments to meditate, but instead she fetched a damp rag from her bath and wiped the last of the sticky bits away. She’d never seen much point in meditation anyway, and she saw zero point in attracting flies with dried milk and honey. When she finished, she resumed her position on the stool.

The first visitor entered.

Kneeling at her feet, the man—her mother’s third cousin—turned her wrists over to view her tattooed arms and then kissed her palms. You will be honored in the Dreaming, and we will not waste your gift.

By tradition she was not required to respond, but she tried anyway. Thank you. It is my honor and my joy to know you and yours will thrive.

He squeezed her shoulders and kissed both her cheeks as if she were his closest relative, instead of merely a distant one who he had spoken with only a handful of times. Tears were bright on his cheeks, and he scurried out of the tent without another word.

Her hands shook, and she clenched them tightly together. For the next visitor, she merely nodded her acceptance of the ritual words. After two more hours of farewells, she was grateful for the tradition that allowed her silence.

Others like Aunt Andra had messages for loved ones to take with her. A few of them shared memories they had of her so she could take those with her too. She’d forgotten that she’d burnt her first flatbread so badly that her cousins had used it to knock dates out of a tree. Also there was the time she’d wrestled a boy twice her age and won because she’d dropped leaves down his shirt and he’d thought they were a snake—this was several years before her dreamwalk had determined her fate and she was no longer permitted to risk herself in such games.

The children, having completed their morning chores, were allowed to visit her next. She endured their questions without throttling a single child, which she considered an achievement, especially since their questions included Will it hurt? and What if your soul doesn’t reach the Dreaming? Some of them were old enough that they should have shown more discretion, and she privately hoped the rich feast tonight would cause them massive indigestion. But in truth, the children were hardest because Jidali was last among them.

Escorted to the tent by their mother, Jidali walked inside alone with the measured pace of a grown man. His chin was lifted high, and his shoulders were flung back so far that Liyana half expected him to pitch backward. He knelt at her feet and kissed her palms exactly as tradition dictated. She felt a surge of pride followed quickly by a sharp pang. She’d never see him as the man he would become.

All of a sudden it was hard to breathe. The air in the tent felt stiflingly hot. It pressed against the inside of her throat. She touched her brother’s still baby-plump cheek, and with a cry, he flung himself forward and wrapped his arms around her waist. She bent over him and hugged his head and shoulders. He sobbed great, heaving sobs. His body shook against her. She didn’t trust herself to speak.

At last he quieted. He sucked in air and then exhaled. His body stilled, though his hands were fists against her back as he continued to hold her. His voice was muffled by the fabric of her dress. Why you?

Liyana stroked his hair, soft as the finest carded goat’s wool. He knew that she had been born in the first Year of No Rain, and he knew that her dreamwalk had showed her connection to the Dreaming. But that wasn’t what he meant, and she knew it because she’d asked that question too, silently in the night, over a hundred times since the day her fate was tattooed on her arms—the tattoos that said she was a vessel. Did I ever tell you the story of the spider who wanted to fly?

He shook his head and then sniffled.

She didn’t dislodge him. No one would notice that a child’s tears had dampened the elaborate embroidery. She spun her web in the branches of a tamar tree, and day in and day out she watched the birds fly to and from their nest with food and water for their young. When she laid her own egg sac, she determined that that was how she would feed her children. If she fed them only what her web caught, then a mere quarter would survive. But if she could fly and fetch the scorpions and beetles that scurried on the desert floor, then more of her children would survive. Perhaps even all.

Jidali curled up at her feet and lay his head on her lap. For an instant, her voice caught. He’d done this a thousand times, and this would be the last. She got control of herself and continued. And so, the spider spun herself wings from her finest thread. She wound them around her back legs, and she stretched them with her front legs. When she was ready, she climbed to the top branch of the tamar tree, and she spread her silk wings. The wind blew against them, and they puffed behind her. Pushing off the branch, she leapt into the air.

She heard a rustle in the doorway and glanced over to see her father. It was his turn next. Liyana nodded to him so he’d know she’d seen him, but she kept stroking Jidali’s hair.

But the desert wind battered her wings with sand, and the threads broke apart. She fell down, down, down into the tamar tree, and she died as she hit the branch where her egg sac lay. At that moment, the egg sac hatched, and with the food from her web and the food from the mother spider’s own body, all of her children survived.

Jidali lifted his face toward her. That is a horrible story.

Of course it is, she said, for the spider. But it’s good news for you.

His cheeks were stained with tears and smeared with the dye that had leaked from her skirt. What do you mean?

At least you don’t have to eat me.

From the doorway, her father roared with laughter. Her brother started to smile, just a little. Liyana, you have the strangest sense of humor ever, Jidali said.

I love you, too, Jidali, she said. She hugged him again, wiped his face, and whispered into his ear. I’ll wait for you in the Dreaming. You will never be alone.

He wasn’t crying when he left, and she knew the clan would pretend not to notice the puffiness of his eyes or his dripping nose. He could remember the day with pride at his strength—and at hers.

After Jidali left, it was her father’s turn. He knelt and kissed her palms.

It feels strange for you to kneel before me, Liyana told him.

I will honor you every day of my life, as I always have. He kissed her cheeks and then departed. Her mother entered the tent next.

Mother halted by the cooking fire pit. She put her hands on her hips and pursed her lips. Unlike the others, she didn’t kneel. Instead, she briskly nodded once. You’ll do, Mother said, as if approving a cut of meat for dinner.

Of course I will, Liyana said. I’m your daughter.

Mother’s lips twitched. A valid point. Solemn again, she studied Liyana a moment longer. I am proud of you. She then swept out of the tent before the tears caused by that unexpected compliment could prick Liyana’s eyes. Liyana blinked fast, sucked in the increasingly hot air, and composed herself to face her family’s midday meal.

She was given a lunch of sugared dates, flatbread, and dried mutton. Aunt Sabisa added Liyana’s favorite yogurt to dip the bread and meat in, and one of her uncles contributed his finest tea, steeped in mint water. Her cousins draped her in napkins, which turned out to be a good thing since they caught drips of the tea and a smear of yogurt. Every time she thought of anything but eating, it became impossible to swallow. So she focused with deep intensity on the gritty sugar in the dates that stuck to her teeth and the spices in the yogurt that pricked her tongue. Clustered around her, her family ate sparingly. They’d feast tonight, after the cere­mony was complete, to welcome the goddess to their clan. The feast would also serve to remind the goddess of what it felt like to eat and that she would need to feed her new body in order to live. Liyana wondered if someone would have to show the goddess how to chew. Or how to perform other basic functions. She doubted that deities in their transcendent form ever had to pee.

She got herself through the day that way, thinking of mundanities and focusing on the needs of the moment. At times the heat inside the tent threatened to choke her and ruin her careful placidity. At every opportunity she drank water from a silver pitcher that a cousin continually refilled. She did not have to ration herself today.

At last it was dusk. Talu, the clan’s magician and Liyana’s teacher, came to claim her. Liyana’s knees creaked as she stood—she’d sat for too long. She was more used to scrambling after the herds, hauling water from the well, and helping out with the myriad of tasks that kept the camp functioning. As a vessel, she had no specific responsibilities aside from preparing for the summoning ceremony, so she had poked her nose into everyone else’s business. She’d never had a day like today. But then again, she supposed that no one in the clan had ever had a day like today, at least not in the last hundred years.

Talu rushed to Liyana and clasped her hands to her own heart. Oh, to think I am here to see this glorious day! She hooked Liyana’s arm under hers and led her out of the tent. I was there on the day you were born. You nearly died. The cord was wrapped around your neck. She drew a line across Liyana’s neck to indicate where the umbilical cord had strangled her. I sliced it away. Your first breath was an indignant scream. You were so angry that the cord had dared to stop your breath that you screamed for three hours. Your poor, tired mother nearly put you out with the goats so she could sleep.

What calmed me? Liyana asked, even though she had heard the story at least a dozen times. Up ahead, she saw that the torches were lit in a ring. Voices drifted through the evening air, as if buoyed by the heat that still filled the breeze.

A sandstorm, Talu said with a chuckle. You heard the wind batter the tent and the sand wolves howl, and you fell fast asleep.

Picturing her mother threatening her with the goats, Liyana was able to smile as she was led to the heart of the oasis. The entire clan waited for her around a bare circle of sand. Her smile faltered as she stepped into the circle, ringed by everyone she knew and would ever know.

Breathe, child, Talu whispered in her ear. You are strong. You are ready. She kissed both of Liyana’s cheeks. Honor us.

Seated north of the circle, the elders beat drums with the heels of their palms. Slow and even, the drumbeats spread across the darkening desert. With measured steps, Talu walked in a circle around Liyana. Liyana rotated with her, watching as Talu dragged her toes to etch a line in the sand, symbolically separating Liyana from the rest of the clan. As she turned, Liyana saw familiar faces. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Friends. She lingered on a boy’s face, Ger’s. He’d also been born in the Year of No Rain, but his dreamwalk had showed only desert horses racing across the sand. He’d been apprenticed to one of the riders, and she’d heard he rode well. Beside him was Esti. She and Liyana had been friends as children. They’d chased sandfish lizards in the shade of the date palm trees, and they’d made necklaces of woven dried leaves for each other. Liyana noticed that Esti held tightly to Ger’s hand. She’d heard they planned to announce their claim at the next festival. She should have remembered to wish them well. Continuing to turn, she focused on other faces in the crowd, family and friends. She wanted to shout over the drumbeats. She regretted her silence during the farewells. There were so many things she hadn’t yet said! She’d thought she’d had time before, but now it didn’t seem like she’d had any time at all. Days had slipped away. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to think of one day, an ordinary day, and fix it in her memory: waking in her sleeping roll in the cold dawn, breathing the scorched air of the afternoon, playing ball with Jidali by the goat herd, taking lessons with Talu, sharing the evening meal with her family, tasting the night tea. She imagined holding that day inside her as she opened her eyes.

Talu had completed her circle.

Oh, sweet goddess, I’m not ready! Liyana felt her muscles lock. She’d trained every day. She knew the steps in her sleep. But she looked into her mind, and it was a void, as if the memory of one sun-drenched day had seared away all her training.

In the center of the circle, the magician lowered herself to her knees. She crossed her arms and began to chant. "Bayla, Bayla, Bayla. Ebuci o nanda wadi, Bayla, Bayla, Bayla. Ebuci o yenda, Bayla, Bayla, Bayla. Vessa oenda nasa we. Around the circle, the clan joined in the chant, repeating the ancient words to summon the spirit of the goddess Bayla. Their voices didn’t matter, though. Only a magician’s voice could reach the Dreaming, the home of the spirits of the clan gods. Come and breathe the desert, Bayla, the words said. Come and be. Your vessel is ready for you."

The drums beat louder.

Listening to them, Liyana felt her muscles loosen. Her feet, encased in the soft shoes, rocked forward and then back. She lifted her arms, and her sleeves fell to her shoulders, revealing the markings. She flicked her palms toward the darkening sky. The air was still hot on her skin, sucking out moisture and wicking away the sweat left over from a day inside the stifling tent. She swung her hips.

Thud, thud, thud. The drumbeats were footfalls. She matched their pace. Forward two steps, back one, she danced around Talu. The woman’s voice was as strong and clear as a herder’s horn. "Bayla, Bayla, Bayla. Ebuci o nanda wadi . . . Liyana spun, and her skirt spun with her, spreading like a bird’s wings. Blue, red, and green flickered in the torchlight, and the gold thread glittered. Forward two steps, back one . . . forward and back. Arms raised, she spun faster. Ebuci o yenda, Bayla, Bayla, Bayla!"

Her clan, her family, cried to the sky. Bayla, Bayla, Bayla!

She was the dance. Her body knew it; each step had been drilled into her muscles by hours of daily practice. Her legs whipped beneath the skirt as she spun, arms open wide. Her feet flew over the sand.

Faster . . . Thud, thud, thud. Vessa oenda nasa we!

Overhead, the sky deepened to azure, and the desert darkened. Stars materialized as if someone were flinging shimmering droplets across the sky. Liyana’s breath burned in her throat, and her lungs ached. She felt her muscles strain, but she welcomed it. She’d danced to this point and far beyond in her training. She had only begun to dance.

The bells in her hair sang between the drumbeats. Her feet beat staccato on the sand as her arms beckoned the goddess’s soul. She sang the summoning words with her people. Ebuci . . . ebuci . . . Come! Come! Your vessel is ready!

As the hours passed, her feet felt the sand cool through the soles of her shoes. She had ceased to notice the faces outside the circle. The drums continued to beat, and Talu continued to chant.

Stars watched cold from the sky above. The torches threw their light into the circle. Her feet stabbed the cold sand, worn from the pattern of her dance. She heard whispers between the drumbeats, voices from beyond the circle.

One carried itself to her ears. She hasn’t come.

Liyana’s feet faltered. Quickly she caught the step, and she twirled and spun in time with the drumbeats. But the words wormed themselves into Liyana’s mind. By now, the goddess should have come. Her soul should have filled Liyana’s body, and Liyana’s soul should have been displaced. She should have been drawn to the Dreaming while the goddess breathed her first breath with Liyana’s lungs.

Talu’s voice was hoarse, but still it echoed across the camp. Liyana noticed that someone had draped furs around the old woman’s shoulders. The night wind whipped past the tents and chilled Liyana’s skin. Her bells continued to ring, and she continued to dance, but each move felt stiff. She hasn’t come, Liyana thought. She should have come!

The moon etched a path across the sky. Still, Liyana danced. And still, her goddess did not come.

Chapter Three

At dawn the drums ceased.

Liyana collapsed forward into the sand. Sky serpents circled above her, their glass scales catching the rose and gold rays of sunrise, and scattering them like a thousand jewels onto the desert below. Songbirds called to one another from the tops of the date

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  • (4/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    I’ve read one or two of Durst’s books before and liked them without really loving them. So I was interested in Vessel–it had an interesting premise and a gorgeous cover–without necessarily getting super excited about it. But I should have been excited, because Vessel is excellent! Character driven fantasy in a historical setting, oh yes! And Liyana is a great main character. I even liked where the romance went. So, YAY.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    Liyana is strong, brave, and practical. Liyana is the vessel for her goddess, Bayla. When Liyana dances for her Goddess to enter her body, the goddess does not come. After being abandoned Liyana is found by a man named Korbyn. Korbyn tells Liyana that she had not been abandoned by her goddess, but instead her goddess has been kidnapped and that together with the other vessels they must free the gods. Liyana falls in love with the god Korbyn, a trickster with a warm heart. Bayla is Korbyn's lover. Always practical she fails to realize that the god Korbyn cares deeply for her as well but knows they can never be together, so when Bayla inhabits her body things become even more complicated.

    All in all I thought this book was amazing and I am definitely going to be buying this book.

    Thankyou to the author for the excellent book of a desert people!

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)
    Liyana spent years training to be the vessel of her clan's goddess. The years of training culminate with the ritual dance that will call the goddess Bayla to walk among her people. Liyana dances . . . but Bayla does not come. Is Liyana an unfit vessel, or has Bayla turned her back on her people? Either way, Liyana no longer has a place in her clan. Left behind in the desert, Liyana prepares to struggle for survival, knowing that she will probably die soon. But then Korbyn appears, looking for her. Korbyn is the trickster god, summoned into his own clan's vessel, and he explains to Liyana that Bayla and several other gods have been trapped somehow, summoned into false vessels, unable to come to their people. Liyana and Korbyn set out across the desert to find the other vessels whose gods have been taken, and then to find out what has entrapped the missing deities.This book has a wonderful setting and fantastic characters -- Liyana's no-nonsense attitude works so beautifully with Korbyn's lighthearted demeanor, and the other vessels are also distinct and interesting. I thought the plotting was mostly strong, though the romantic subplot, especially the way it worked out, was less than satisfying to me. That minor criticism aside, I still completely enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to readers who like YA fantasy, particularly fans of Tamora Pierce and Rae Carson.
  • (3/5)

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    First of all, look at that cover. It's so pretty. So is the dress. And if there's one thing that most of the time, they're terrible (cough, cough: Hush, Hush; Evermore; Marked; Fallen). So, naturally, I was wary of this book. Well, that, and the part where I had no money on my Amazon account.Vessel is about a girl named Liyana. She has been raised ever since she was born to be a host for a goddess. When the goddess doesn't answer her summons, she gets kicked out of her clan. Soon after, Korbyn, a got, comes along to tell her that the gods, other than himself, have been captured. They go and find the other hosts of different clans to aid them on their adventure.The characters in the Vessel weren't the best. Occasionally, they acted idiotically. But they made up for that by having- wait for it- brains and spines.And sadly, Vessel has a love triangle. It's not even well written, just annoying. Korbyn was the first love interest, and he was pretty interesting. But when the emperor comes in; that was where I was getting pissed off. Liyana and the emperor just fall instantly in love, with no development between the points of meeting and falling in "love". Why, in all YA books, are there always love triangles and insta-love? It's so frustrating!The setting was very interesting. I loved that it took place in the desert. The feelings all the inhabitants had for the desert were very entertaining to read about.The pace was mediocre. At times, it slugged. Other parts, it went too fast (cough, cough insta-love).The writing was descriptive. Not the best, but not the worst, either.Overall, this would be a borrow, not a buy book. If you're looking for a quick and cheesy read, this would be it.

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  • (1/5)
    Why does it not say in the write up that this book changes prospectives? I absolutely detest books that do that. I didn't read past the first prospective change and I wish I had been warned somehow because I wasted a credit on this book I will never read
  • (4/5)
    This was an interesting stand alone fantasy novel. Liyana has trained her whole life to be a vessel, a home for her goddess Bayla. When she dances and the magician of her clan chants, the goddess is supposed to inhabit her body, and she dies. However, after a night of dancing, Bayla has not come. Her clan abandons her to the desert, but the trickster god Korbyn arrives with a startling story, five of the gods have been kidnapped, and it is up to their human vessels to find and rescue them.
  • (2/5)
    Eh, the plot was rather shallow but I liked the concept of the world a lot and I think this could have been really something if it was...deepened? I quite like the idea of vessels.
  • (4/5)
    I love Sarah Beth Durst and will read any books she comes out with, so you can bet I was excited to start this one. I really liked this book. I really enjoyed the magical-ness to the story with all the gods and how the desert people survive with them. I really liked that the desert people actually got to interact with their gods through a vessel and how some of the desert people didn't think it was right that the gods killed someone in order for them to inhabit their body to be with their clan. It was all very unique and interesting and I've never read anything like it before!
  • (5/5)
    This is such a perfectly drawn world I was completely enthralled from beginning to end. Each time I picked it up I had a very hard time putting it down when the time to do so came. The environment, the culture, the relationships among the tribes and between the people and their gods, the history, all so well done. I loved all the stories within the story that tell of the history and the gods. This story and the characters will stay with me for a long time, I have no doubt. It affected me similarly to Bitterblue and was one of the top dozen or so stories I've read in the last couple years or more.
  • (5/5)
    I was drawn to Vessel by the promise of a well-crafted world and unique mythology, and I'm happy to report that the book really delivered in those aspects. I also found within its pages an absolutely captivating and realistic main character, despite the fact that she resides in a purely fantastical world. Throw in a struggle for survival in a seemingly inhospitable land, and this was an interesting cross between something dystopian-like (it's not the end of the world, here, nor is this a post-apocalyptic tale) and high fantasy that had me immediately intrigued. While I do have to admit that the book took me far longer to read than it should have - like, five library renewals too long - I ultimately came away from this book extremely satisfied and glad that I stuck with it.Liyana is probably one of my favorite female protagonists ever, and I don't make that claim lightly. She is resourceful, stubborn, and so incredibly caring and loving that you pretty much start rooting for her right from the first page. When Bayla, her goddess, fails to come inhabit her body, she's thrust in a whirlwind of events that forever changes her, and ultimately she comes out all the stronger for it. Some people shrink away from danger and difficult times, but Liyana really embraced them and did all she could so that she and those she cared about would survive. I loved her quick wit, her intelligence, and - most of all - her ability to always have a story handy when it was most needed. As a librarian, I couldn't help but love that she's a storyteller!I also want to give mad props for the mythology used in this book. From the background on the gods, to their shared memories and stories, to their unique personalities, every single thing about them was so wonderfully and carefully crafted that it wasn't hard at all to imagine the world in which they exist. I loved how Korbyn - while still being a god - was very much humanized during his journey with Liyana, and I loved their shared interactions and the way their relationship developed. I'd wax on even more about this, but don't want to give too much away! Just, trust me, if mythology is your thing, you will LOVE this portion of the story!So, considering I've had nothing but praise for this book, you're probably wondering at my final rating. The truth is that I did have a bit of a slow time getting through the book, and even set it aside for nearly two weeks in order to read something else. While I ultimately enjoyed the story a lot, there were moments where I wasn't really compelled to pick it up, despite how much I enjoyed all the things I just mentioned above. This, for me, warrants a bit of a ratings drop, even if that slowness is my one and only fault with the story.Despite the time it took me to read this, Vessel is still a really wonderful book. Whether mythology is your thing, or you just enjoy reading about strong, stubborn, steadfast main characters, this book is sure to have something that almost everyone will enjoy. If you find it moving more slowly than you'd wish, my advice is to just stick with it; the last half really picks up and makes the whole thing extremely worthwhile.
  • (3/5)
    I wanted this to be AMAZING. Because it’s Sarah Beth Durst. And there’s a stunning Asian model on the cover. But VESSEL didn’t blow me out of the water, though it was still a fine and unique fantasy geared more towards younger fantasy fans rather than jaded, crotchety SFF readers with high demands for world-building, plot, AND characterization (a.k.a. me).Right out of the gate, VESSEL stands a head above others of its ilk because of its protagonist, Liyana. With her slightly snarky sense of humor, especially when she’s with family, Liyana drew me to her immediately…which helped through the rougher periods of the book, when the features that often drag down a quest-based plot—new characters introduced much too quickly to fully capture readers’ support, a whiplash-inducing quick pace that makes it more difficult for readers like me to remain invested in the story—reared their heads.As with one of her previous books, Enchanted Ivy, in VESSEL, I sometimes found that I had difficulty keeping the thread of what was going on. Didn’t they just arrive in Place B, and why do they have to move on to Place C so quickly? Weren’t he and she fighting only a few pages ago? The constant barrage of questions going on in my head as I struggled to figure out which of the many minor characters introduced were truly significant, what romance to focus on, which interactions were actually important to the overall plot, really took me out of the story, so that at the end of this swashbuckling desert magic tale I closed the book with a little, “Huh.” It was a decent enough read for me, but several months on from when I read the book, I’m not sure how much of it stayed with me at all.
  • (5/5)
    It's been a long time since I picked up a book that moved me and captured me as much as this one did. And by the end of it I just felt complete.But let's begin with the first thing we see here, the cover. I don't know about you but whoever designed the cover for Vessel didn't do a good job, he/she did a marvelous and stunning job. The second I saw it, the second I loved it and promptly added it to my wishlist.This was just one of those books that I HAD to possess, as simple as that.Then of course we have the plot. I think what amazes me most is the fact that the author shows us so many aspects like art, religion, clans and environment. The world building is just plain awesome, she covers every aspect with a lot of insight and that helps us understand more the society Liyana, the main character, lives in.The scenario for this story is the dessert, and maybe it sounds boring, but it isn't. The complexity of the situations the different clans have to go through and the love they profese to the dessert makes it unique and as interesting as a character itself.The most strong component in the book is the religion, of course. You see, every hundred years each clan welcomes its god/goddess that comes from the Dreaming to nourish the oasis they live in, bring rain and, all in all, help them survive another hundred years.But the thing is, every time a god fills the body of the vessel (like Liyana) the soul inside that body fades in order to leave space for the god's soul.And just like that, when the chosen ones are selected they have to consecrate their bodies to be nothing but perfect.When the day comes Liyana dances for hours, but Bayla (goddess of the Goat's Clan) never comes and Liyana is left in the dessert, by her own people, to die as they assume she is not worthy of the goddess.When everything turns to the worst and Liyana thinks she is just going to die a silhouette appears in the horizon... Korbyn, the trickster god, has come looking for her in order to save the other gods that have been kidnapped.And here is where we learn that Liyana is strong, resourceful and ready to do whatever it takes to survive and save the gods. Even speak her mind in front of an Emperor.Because this book has a love triangle, but it isn't the main thread and it's well developed. By the end of the book I wasn't really happy but it made sense so it didn't ruin the book for me.And one thing I'm really happy about? The author made me fell in love, care and think about the characters as if they were real people and I during the whole book I felt that I was there, with them, living each adventure and misfortune.The fact that Vessel is a standalone book makes it even more fascinating and perfect, it proves that it's possible to tell a story so deep and rich without falling in the long series that are normal nowadays.A book that makes you consider things like sacrifice, free will, faith and the importance between the life of one person for the survival of an entire group is a treasure.As a bottom line all I can say is that I'm a huge fan of Sarah Beth now. Go pick up this book if you haven't already, it deserves all the attention it can get because it's perfect.
  • (5/5)
    I really don’t understand people only giving this book 4 star reviews. Sarah Beth Durst has hit her mark once again with Vessel! I found this story to be unique and completely immersive. I didn’t want to stop reading it! The first thing I noticed about Vessel was the amazing world building that Sarah Beth Durst is so famous for. She didn’t disappoint with Vessel. The first page is so descriptive that it sucks you into Liyana’s world before you even realize it. In fact, I used the first two paragraphs to show my students the “power of sensory details.” (Hope the author doesn’t mind.) It was great timing that we were discussing building your setting and using descriptive details to make your writing more interesting, and then I opened Vessel and viola: perfect example! The opening page’s example was a huge hit with my students (who are also reluctant readers). I booked talked the awesomeness and now they all want to read it. J If you’ve read any other books by Sarah Beth Durst, hearing that the world she creates for her characters in Vessel is like none you’ve ever read about won’t surprise you. She seems to have a knack for developing unique settings. The mythology she used throughout Vessel was great. I’m a huge mythology nerd, so anything even loosely based on myth will grab my attention. With Vessel, I could recognize the trickster tale elements, but I had a hard time pin-pointing which culture the myths truly came from. Were they borrowed from many cultures or were they a product of the author’s divine imagination? Hard to say. What I can say, though, is that it was flawless. The way the mythological elements were woven into the characters’ every being was fantastic. From battling glass sky serpents and sand wolves to saving your gods/goddesses from an unknown threat—Vessel had it all! I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved it. The mythology element in the book also plays a HUGE role in the plot. (Loved it!) It’s rather hard to explain the intricate plot, but I can safely say there were numerous surprises along the way. I usually figure out plots midway through a book, but not with Vessel. I can honestly say I was surprised by the ending. While I was a little disappointed with the turn of events in the resolution, it was still a fulfilling ending. The characters were also pretty spectacular too. It was hard to make a connection with them because they were so different, but I certainly found myself invested in them. Liyana was the epitome of a strong female lead, and I loved her. She was resourceful and stubborn. Korbyn was mischievous (which makes sense since he was the trickster god). I could just picture the twinkle in his eye! Loved him. Team Korbyn FTW! The other characters that you meet along the way were equally impressive. They were each unique and brought something special to the plot. I really wish I would have wrote this review the moment I finished reading Vessel instead of waiting two weeks. I feel like now I can only capture the superficial elements that I enjoyed, instead of the overall impact I had when I read the final words. Since this is the second book by Sarah Beth Durst that I’ve read—and I loved it—I’ve decided that I need to read everything else she has written. Vessel was so different from Drink, Slay, Love, but it still managed to find a place on my shelves as a favorite. (For the Record, Drink, Slay, Love is my favorite, non-sparkling vampire book of all time.) I also think it should be noted that truly talented authors (like Sarah Beth Durst) are able to make each book they write unique and special. Vessel was nothing like DSL—seriously. It was as if I was reading the author for the first time, and I appreciated that. So, for all the mythology fans out there, you need to read Vessel. It’s like nothing you’ve read before!
  • (5/5)
    What an exciting adventure! I couldn't put it down. This high fantasy story has a sort of ordinary girl who has to save her world. Liyana is an ordinary desert girl except that she has been chosen to sacrifice her life so that her body can be a vessel for the god who watches over her people. She is resigned to her fate and accepts it because of the love she feels for her people. But after completing the ceremony, her god does not come. She is cast out by her clan because they believe that she was not a worthy vessel. But her family does leave her supplies to help her survive in the harsh desert. Her younger brother even leaves the knife made from the scale of a sky serpent which is her family's great treasure. Liyana doesn't know what to do or if she will even be able to survive alone in a desert filled with sandstorms and the sand wolves who inhabit them when out of the storm comes a young man. The young man is Korbyn who is the trickster god and who is inhabiting a vessel. He tells her that someone has kidnapped five of the gods including hers and that he needs her help to free them. Because of her sincere devotion to her god Bayla and her fascination with Korbyn she agrees. The two of them travel together to find the other vessels of the kidnapped gods. Along the way they share stories and become friends. Korbyn is the lover of her god Bayla and Liyana feels guilty for having feelings for him - feelings that Korbyn might be returning. They trace the problem to the Emperor of the Crescent Empire or, at least, to a magician in his court. The empire is dealing with the same drought that is plaguing the desert dwellers and his solution is to conquer them and find a way into the forbidden mountain to reach a lake he has seen in his dreams. The Emperor is not a bad man. He is trying to do what is best for his people. He doesn't see any other hope for them.It is up to Liyana who is massively unusual in that she didn't die when her god was freed from captivity. They are sharing her body and must find a way to work together for the best good of all of the people. Liyana becomes the leader of a coalition of gods that she had to go to the Dreaming to find as they battle the wrong-headed magician, the sky serpents who are guarding the magical lake, and try to prevent the desert dwellers and the Emperor's army from destroying each other. This story has magic and epic battles but it also has very personal moments of love and friendship. It was an excellent story that I look forward to sharing with my students.
  • (5/5)
    Gorgeously imagined world with rich and flavourful cultural tapestry, characters you will root for, a seemingly impossible quest of epic proportions, and a conclusion that will leave you breathless and heartbroken - Vessel has all that and more! This sweeping tale mixes adventure, romance, drama and enough eye-popping sorcery to earn this book a place on every fantasy fan's shelf. It's definitely one of 2012 must-reads! Once every hundred years, the goddess of the Goat Clan (Bayla) is summoned from the dreaming to ensure that her clan survives the next century. Her soul fills a human body - a vessel - to work the magic that brings rain to the dessert, increase the herds and make the oasis green again. Without the help of her magic, people wouldn't be able to survive in the ruthless, desolate desert that is their homeland. For centuries, people of the dessert have been summoning gods and goddesses and for centuries they've been following the same sacred ritual: the dreamwalk would chose the vessel for the goddess, preparations would be made and, finally, the ceremony would take place during which the goddess would take over the vessel's body, killing the vessel's soul in the process. Chosen to be Bayla's vessel, Liyana is ready for her sacrifice. For years she's been training in preparations for this moment. The goddess does not come, though, and Liyana - accused of being unworthy of the deity - is abandoned by her clan and left to die alone in the dessert. Heartbroken and desperate, she is found by Korbyn (a trickster god inside of his vessel), who tells her that her goddess did not, in fact, abandon her, but was captured and imprisoned. And five other gods shared her fate. To free them, she'll have to join Korbyn and the other vessels on their dangerous journey across the desert. A journey both physical and spiritual, that will make Liyana question her readiness to give up her life. Vessel is slow-going (and it's a good thing!), reflective, emotionally engaging and visually stunning. It invites you to ponder issues such as sacrifice, putting the well-being of a group over the individual, and - most importantly - the meaning and importance of faith and free will. It's also a fascinating examination of a deeply religious society, its priorities, social structures and behavioural patterns. It's a meaningful and multi-layered book, but also one that is charming, entertaining and simply very enjoyable to read. I can't say that I devoured it in one sitting, but I loved coming back to it, slowly savouring every scene and dialogue. With her magical, evocative writing style and intelligent observations about life, love and family, Sarah Beth Durst captivates the reader and draws them in. Her prose is honest and convincing, but also very elegant and fairy-tale like. Dreamy and mesmerizing. The characters, as well as the settings, are gorgeously fleshed out and authentic. You can almost hear the hypnotizing rhythm of the drumbeats, feel the scorching sun on your skin, and smell the exotic spices. It's almost too easy to lose yourself in this world. Liyana is an absolutely fascinating character. Torn between duty and desire to live, she carries the weight of the tribe on her fragile shoulders. She knows what is expected of her and - while she's not overly enthusiastic about it - she has accepted her fate with remarkable grace and courage. She doesn't want to die, but she puts her family and her tribe before herself and therefore she's willing to give up her own happiness to ensure their well-being. Giving, caring and thoughtful, she's a wonderful and inspiring character. I absolutely adored her. As she gets closer to Korbyn, she begins to realize that she doesn't want to die. Her conflicting feelings are tormenting her, and the inevitability of her death weighs heavy on the reader's heart. I found myself emotionally invested in her story, cheering for her and hoping - against all odds - for a happy ending to her journey. Overall, this book is about mythology mixed in with religious beliefs, shaman magic and deities, but it's also - perhaps even most of all - about one girl who sacrificed everything - her life, her dreams, her future - for her family and tribe. It's about faith, love, dedication, honor, hope, persistence and making one's own fate. It's about fighting for the things worth fighting for and never giving up. It's a beautiful, thought-provoking and enthralling story and, while I'm very satisfied with the ending, I am also totally heartbroken to say goodbye to all the amazing characters. I absolutely loved Vessel. Fans of fantasy and epic adventures won't be disappointed!
  • (5/5)
    If I had to sum up this book in one word it would be: breathtaking! I was absolutely absorbed in every aspect of this book. It felt more like an experience than just simply reading a book. The descriptions were so vivid and the characters were so interesting, it became easy to get swept up in this world and let everything around me just slip away.In Vessel, we follow Liyana who was supposed to become the vessel for her goddess to inhabit and help her people, but her goddess never came. Her clan is forced to leave her to seek out help elsewhere and she is left to pick up the broken pieces of her life. Liyana went through an extreme journey both physically and emotionally. She had to grow up very quickly and went from being a trusted vessel, to being abandoned, to being an extremely strong girl that fought in the face of adversity instead of hiding from it. I admired her strength of heart and her determination to see her task through to the end to try and save her people.Liyana’s hope comes in the form of Korbyn, the trickster god who claims to know where the missing gods and goddess are and with Liyana’s help claims he can save them. Korbyn remained a mystery for most of the book which is fitting since he is the trickster god. You are never quite sure what he is up to since he never really answers questions with a straight answer and does not reveal his true purpose for the journey he starts Liyana on. However, I found that he grew on me as the story progressed and I came to care for what happened to him by the end of the novel.While the characters were fascinating and I highly enjoyed watching their journey, the stories laced throughout really stole the show. Sarah gives us the history of the gods and goddess and more information about each of the clans through stories and legends that they pass down through the generations. They were told in such detail and many resembled fables with lessons to be learned from them. They were a clever way for us to get to know our characters better and really become invested in the outcome of their lives.While the book is a little over four hundred pages, I never became bored or found the story dragging. There was always something happening to move the plot forward and the mystery of the location of the missing gods and goddesses was an enigma I was eager to see solved. Liyana also brought forth interesting questions along the way to locating her gods and goddess. Is blind devotion the right choice? Why can you not questions the gods you serve? She began to stand on her own two feet and question her traditions and what was really the right path for her people. It was interesting watching her choose her own path in life, not the one that was initially chosen for her. Liyana faced adversity at every turn, but she persevered and accompanying her on her quest was magical.Overall, I cannot say enough good things about Vessel. It is an epic fantasy that reminds me of why I adore this genre and Sarah. She has created a stunning world filled with an intriguing mythology, vibrant characters and a story that will grab hold of you immediately and not let go. Sarah continues to amaze me with ability write books that keep me fully engrossed and stay with me long after I have read the final page. Vessel is a superior addition to the young adult community and I highly recommend checking it out if you have not already done so.
  • (4/5)
    Durst, Sarah BethVessel2012. 424pp. $16.99 hc. Margaret K. McElderry Books. 978-1-4424-2376-3. Grades 9-12.Liyana has been chosen by her tribe to be the vessel of her tribe's goddess, to die in the process of giving her body to the goddess. On the appointed day, Liyana says goodbye to her family and friends and begins the sacred dance, expecting the goddess to take her body, but the goddess does not come. Liyana's tribe declares Liyana unworthy and leaves her to die in the desert, but Korbyn, a trickster god currently living inside his vessel's body, finds Liyana and tells her that some of the gods and goddesses are missing, and that they must journey together to find them. Liyana is a practical, adventurous heroine, determined to survive even when her tribe and family desert her, and teens will identify with her bewilderment when what she believed to be her certain future suddenly falls through. The worldbuilding is very detailed, with an uncommon and intriguing desert setting and system of magic. Recommended for teens who want a fantasy adventure with strong worldbuilding and a strong heroine.