Cover Image: No Man of Woman Born

No Man of Woman Born

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Member Reviews

A delightful collection of fantasy and fairytale stories starring transgender, nonbinary and other-gender characters. A fun, fairly quick read that doesn't have a dud story in the bunch, and which gently educates about gender and neopronouns along the way. I'll definitely be reading more by this author.
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Simply put, wow. I needed this book and I had no idea until I picked it up on a whim. No Man of Woman Born is a collection of seven short stories, all featuring trans and nonbinary characters in epic fantasy settings. Aside from how overjoyed I was with the representation in this collection, I must take a moment to comment on Mardoll's incredible talent as a writer. In each brief story xie conjures an elaborate, fleshed out world that could support its own collection of tales. Though the world xie creates may be filled with strife and warfare, xer characters persevere. While some protagonists experienced hardship in their past, none suffer gruesome deaths or tragic fates, no characters are deadnamed, and misgendering and bigotry are minimal. Each story elegantly subverts well established tropes in the fantasy genre, and left me smiling each time it did. Mardoll puts the heart of this book best in xer own words: "The heroes and heroines in these pages aren't special because they are trans; they are special and they are trans." I loved this book from cover to cover and I highly recommend it to any lovers of fantasy, retellings, and queer fiction. 

I received my copy of No Man of Woman Born from Acacia Moon Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Acacia Moon Publishing.
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I enjoyed this book.  I liked the different approach to some of the standard fairy tale plots.  At times, it felt as though the author was really stretching to make a point about gender, instead of letting the "tell" flow naturally from the story.  However, that's a minor quibble about what was a refreshing take on the fairy tale genre.
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DNF at %10.
This book is a collection of short stories which are interesting subversions of classic fairy tales. I gave it 2 stars because I think it was Okay. The focus of the stories are on gender-neutral, transgender, and gender-fluid individuals. The author uses gender-neutral pronouns in these stories. Although I appreciate the way the author incorporated less-represented characters in her stories, I'm not a fan of short-stories. I always feel as though they end right when it starts to get interesting.
That's partially a compliment, because these stories were interesting. However, they just aren't for me.
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An incredible anthology! Only criticism is that some of the stories felt too short to properly get to know the characters.
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The 'prophecy twist' trope is one of my favourite tropes ever, and discovering a book which plays with it as a theme, and adds in LGBT+ and gender-variant characters makes it even more excellent! The stories in this book take on a variety of fantasy settings, and a variety of prophecies. Given that every story relies on the same theme, it would be very easy for them to become repetitive, but they don't - these are all genuinely powerful stories. In many cases, the validation of the prophecy is the first validation the characters have received, which makes the stories triumphant and empowering. They're also just really enjoyable for anyone who likes fantasy!
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this is such an important book to exist. i loved the subversion of tropes, the known stories but with trans and enby characters as heroes instead. i cannot stress enough how important it is that everybody gets to see themselves be the main character, and so many more people got that thanks to this collection.
as cis woman, i have no place discussing the rep, but it was written by a non-binary trans author and Ana is a great writer. check out OV reviews, and fellow cis allies, this book is not about us nor for us, but we can read it, understand better, help share and make it reach as far as possible.

also i absolutely loved the third and second to last stories.
tw's in the front of the book and repeated for every particular story
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I absolutely adored all of the stories in this, although my favorites would have to be Tangled Nets and The Wish-Giver. A definite must-read for anyone interested in fantasy, LGBTQ+ characters, and trope subversion.
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Wow! This was such an emotional experience! I think I cried at least once for each story. No Man of Woman Born is a collection of short stories, all with nonbinary or questioning characters, all playing on how oddly specific and gendered prophecies are in fantasy novels. Of all the stories Early to Rise was my favorite because of the antagonist and the unique way the protagonist solved their problems. The writing was lovely and the worlds were rich and creative. A considerable amount of effort and talent went into making each of the short stories and worlds unique. The first three stories had very similar plot beats/resolutions so it felt repetitive. But that might be because all of the stories are based on the prophecy trope (which I am not usually a fan of so maybe it won't bother anyone else.) Individually, the stories were very well done and heartwarming. I honestly teared up a bit every time the character affirmed their genders to themselves. This was so much fun I would highly recommend it.

Thank you to Netgalley, Acacia Moon Publishing and Ana Mardoll for giving me the opportunity to read this. I received a free arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Ever since I saw the cover for this anthology, I was extremely excited to read it. It’s gorgeous and the author is trans ownvoice! Not only that, but xe reworked many fairytale stories and found loopholes or reimagined them entirely to make trans characters the leads.

This is an amazing book and I loved every single one of the stories. They’re short, included many different neopronouns, and all were fantasy-related. The last story was definitely my favorite and was such a nice ending to the anthology. There was even a story where the main character’s father came out as a trans man in his 40s, so I liked that it was understanding that some people do not come out early in life and that’s it’s okay to do so later on when someone feels safe.

The characters were never misgendered by the author and there were content warnings at the beginning of the story if other characters did so. There were also pronunciation guides for the neopronouns as most people are familiar with “they/them/their” pronouns and may not be with the others. 

These stories really meant a lot to me. I didn’t start calling myself nonbinary until very recently and I rarely saw myself in anything I read. Overall, I think these stories are something everyone should read.
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This is a short story collection full of magic, myths and dragons, but also full of character with diverse gender identities. 

The stories made me realize how much traditional fairy tales and heroic legends really rely in some ways on the traditional constructions of gender. So what this collection does with the usual patterns is a pretty smart move: It doesn’t just have characters outside of the cis gender-binary, but also uses their gender identities as a twist to the tales’ expectations.

I love this concept and I think it is important to write and read these stories to help people get used to the idea of different genders, see how one can talk about them and learn to use the pronouns (so one on complains that 'uh there were mistakes all over I want my money back' like I have seen it before in a review for a book with a non-binary character).

But what made me not rate this higher in the end was that the plots of the stories itself didn’t feel that special to me (with exceptions) and that after a while I didn’t enjoy them anymore because it felt all very repetitive. 
The play with myth and gender was cool, but it was kind of the same twist over and over again in most of the stories.

'A man and a women will kill him' – oh, but I am both in one person
'She will sleep' – oh, but I am not always a she
'A son will kill him' – oh, but he just didn't know I was his son instead of daughter 
'No man of women born can kill the King' - oh, but the person who gave birth to me realizes he's a man so I’m not born of a women

The stories in this collection are still very much worth reading, but reading them all together took some of my fun with it away in the end, sadly.
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Like most short story collections, No Man of Woman Born is uneven. I really enjoyed a couple of stories and others were “eh.”

No Man of Woman Born is a fantasy short story collection featuring trans and nonbinary protagonists. The majority of stories in the collection deal with gender-specific prophecies and trans people’s ability to subvert them.

My main problem with a lot of the stories was the clunky integration of backstory. Since most of these stories deal with prophecy, they pretty much all have some sort of backstory about how the prophecy came to be. This information wasn’t always worked in well, and it often slowed down the pacing of the stories.

I think the story “His Father’s Son” handled the backstory issue most effectively, by using flashbacks to the protagonist’s past, where a warlord killed most of his family, as a soothsayer said that the warlord could only be killed by a man of our hero’s family. But he overlooks the hero of our story, assuming that he’s a girl. In attempting to stop the prophecy from coming true, the warlord creates a son hellbent on gaining vengeance for his father. I also thought the world building of this story was more unique than the others, which tended towards a generic medieval fantasy.

My second favorite story has to be “Early to Rise,” an aromantic, gender-fluid take on the “Sleeping Beauty” tale. The fairy cast a very gender-specific spell on who would fall asleep until true love’s kiss… so what happens when the royal in question is gender-fluid? I really love that Mardoll had an aromantic protagonist and explored the problem of making “true love” (which, let’s be real, is code for “romantic love”) a condition for a happy ending, not only for the protagonist but for the entire kingdom!

I didn’t enjoy the other stories as much, partly because of the backstory issue, partly because of the eventual repetitiveness of the prophecy format. I actually skipped “The Wish Giver,” which I’d read on Mardoll’s blog and wasn’t wowed by the first time around (I think the writing was too simplistic for me?). I did enjoy some of the subversion of “No Man of Woman Born,” where when prophecies declare that “no man of woman born” can kill the evil king, the resistance immediately starts training women and nonbinary people to fight.

To be honest, I mostly read this collection because I follow Mardoll on Twitter and tend to enjoy xie’s commentary. If I was ever to go back to this collection, “His Father’s Son” and “Early to Rise” would be the only stories I’d reread.

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review.
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No Man of Woman Born is a collection of seven short stories by nonbinary author Ana Mardoll, each exploring the concept of fantastical prophecies fulfilled by unlikely heroes, all trans, nonbinary, or questioning. A fisher whose village is at the mercy of a man-eating dragon, a hedgewitch sent to save the land from a tyrannical queen, a warrior who seeks to avenge his family. Each story is a clever spin on a classic fairytale, and though some of the endings may be predictable, the journey there is full of heart. 
	I will preface this review by saying that I am a cis woman, and so I cannot speak to the quality of the representation. However, I have to say that the author manages, in very few pages, to establish her/xer protagonists as well-rounded people with fears and aspirations. They have lives outside of their gender identities and feel like tangible people whom I might meet in real life. Trans and nonbinary characters have certainly started to make their way into contemporary media, but it is still rare to find them in fantasy, so I hope that this author continues to publish more work in this vein. 
If I have any criticisms, it would be that at times the stories felt a little slow. It’s a very character-driven book, which focuses a lot on establishing the humanity of its heroes. Given the length of each story, I understand that Mardoll had to choose between story and character. Still, after reading No Man of Woman Born, I’m definitely interested to take a look at Mardoll’s novel-length works. I urge everyone to give this book a shot, because though its characters go through grief and heartache, at its core the collection is about triumph and self-acceptance. No matter your identity, these are two themes that should resonate with us all.
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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This book was a bit tough for me to read. Originally I was super excited for it's focus on non-binary and trans-gendered characters however I was vastly overwhelmed almost immediately with the pronouns, I wish there had been a description/chart on the terms and their usage before beginning the short story collection. I felt like I needed to do research before I could enjoy a diverse book and that was a bit off-putting for me. Because of how important the need for books like this and because I feel like this will appeal to many young new readers just discovering who they are, I give this a 3/5.  The stories themselves fell a little flat for me and I can't quite put my finger on why. I did feel like they were a little boring and that there was too much description to fit into a short story whereas I would have loved to get more thrown into some action with descriptions here and there, not an entire history lesson then a story.
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Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve rated this two and a half stars and rounded them up to three for the simple reason books like these (books with transgender main characters that don’t centre around coming out) are hard to find. The low rating is due to the fact the stories were very fast paced and felt rushed as a result, and the main characters were hard to connect with (either because they said unrealistic/cheesy things or felt two dimensional).

However, this book does stand out for being one of the few stories I’ve read that has more than a few transgender characters (all of them being main characters) where none of them die. The author does well at creating fantasy settings and scenarios that leave you wanting more about the worlds she created (the main character’s love for plants in King’s Favor made me want to know more about the flora in the world she’d created), and she (the author) has a way of leaving the prophesies ambiguous until the end so you’re constantly wondering what she’s put a new spin on. I loved her descriptions of the dragons in Tangled Nets and, though hard to pronounce, the names of the characters are very creative. This would’ve definitely been better as a novel with one main character rather than an anthology of short stories with different main characters.

Each story is a quick read, which helps if you have a short attention span (like me), and I’d certainly recommend this for people who are new to LGBT (more specifically transgender) fantasy and don’t know where to start.
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This is a collection of stories that all feature trans, nonbinary or gender fluid characters in a fantasy world where we don’t usually find them.
What was particularly great about it is that these stories take place in the typical medieval setting, devoid of hormone therapy or anything that would help someone pass, yet there is never anyone purposely misgendering anyone else.

As with any short story collection, I liked some of the stories more than others, but my favorites are the ones that feature someone fulfilling a prophecy that no one suspects they are the chosen one of, due to the prophecy specifying a gender that no one knows this character is.
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Unique writing and story that kept me interested. A story that had me wanting to read more. Relatable characters and a good flow. Would recommend!
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i want to be careful in my review of this book, because i know it wasn't meant for me, and that's alright. that's wonderful, actually. this book is lovingly crafted for trans readers, and that's incredibly important. it's one of those books that's deeply needed, and i can only hope it finds it's way into the hands on someone who's been longing for just this: an anthology of fantasy stories with wonderful writing, interesting characters, and most importantly, one that's centered around trans folks. 'no man of woman born' is about prophecies, long lambasted for often being so cisnormative in stories, and the ways they can be written to celebrate diversity instead of stifle it.

honestly, my biggest complaint was that i wished the stories were longer — that i could spend more time with these characters and their worlds. leaving a novel wanting more is a wonderful problem to have though, and i'm grateful i had the opportunity to read and review this one. i don't want to go too in depth and ruin the next reader for the delight of discovering each story contained within this anthology, all the clever ways ana mardoll subverts and rebuilds the familiar fantasy tropes to suit these heroes, so i'll leave you with this: this is definitely one i'll be recommending to my friends, and it's one you should read too.
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A collection of fairy tales all linked to prophesies will pull you in with their inherent magic. Beautifully written, the imagery is amazing & is extremely realistic. 

Apart from the writing style, imagery & the plots what made this book different from others was that it plays with gender, role, loopholes and much more. Unlike most fairy tales with perfect characteristics the key players feel confusion, fear all those every day emotions which normal people feel.

Though this book will not appeal to everyone, it will appeal to those who enjoy vivid imagination.
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I just skimmed through this one. I don't care for the content. It's not for me. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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