What I gleaned about the stories: Water and strong social bonds are both important for survival in the desert, but only one of them is a choice.
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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.
Analysis: A short way into the first story, a character describes disowning their child as like cutting out the bruised part of an apple to save the rest. While the character displays the demeanour of someone who believes it was the right thing to do, the non-standard image chosen gave me an insight into how they saw the decision: why the domesticity of an apple rather than the logic of an amputation? How long does an apple keep with a part cut out anyway?
Other similes and metaphors of equal interest were sprinkled throughout the rest of the stories, frequently enough that the description had nuance and depth yet sparse enough the prose seemed natural rather than deliberate.
Analysis: The stories are set in a magical version of a pre-industrial desert culture, so are filled with names and terms very different from the usual pseudo-Western-European of traditional fantasy. However, the names are both distinct from each other and flow smoothly, and the terms are neither given without context nor overexplained; as such, I noted them as local colour rather than as another thing between me and the story.
Analysis: Some distance into the first story, I encountered a comma before the last letter of a word rather than after it. I felt a niggle of unease, but as I was already into the next paragraph when my unconscious got the message out that that was the issue, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and carried on. However, when I encountered Of course, he could not fly like a bird – no horse could; the weight of its muscles was too great for wings – ,but he could… the complexity of the clause structure had already slowed me enough that I didn’t just jolt over the misplaced comma.
With the issue having both brought me to a halt and ceased to be a solo aberration, I moved on.
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