Cover Image: No Man of Woman Born

No Man of Woman Born

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Member Reviews

This is an anthology featuring twists on the classic gendered prophecies by placing transgender and non-binary people at the forefront of the stories, written by a genderqueer author. I'm going to be reviewing each story individually, as I usually do for short story collections. I won't be including content warnings like I usually do because each story in this collection comes with incredibly comprehensive content warnings beforehand.


Tangled Nets [4/5]
representation: non-binary protagonist (uses xie/xer pronouns)
This one follows a teenager who is still grieving xer sister after she was given to the dragon that the village made a deal with long ago as a sacrifice. This one had some really great Hunger Games vibes to it, with there being a “lottery” of sorts to decide who the sacrifice is, and the strong sibling relationship shown even if one sibling is already dead when the story starts. This story also perfectly sets up the idea of how non-binary people can subvert gendered prophecies in a way that reminded me of the “I am no man” moment in LOTR. There are also witches!!

King’s Favor [3/5] 
representation: non-binary protagonist (uses nee/ner pronouns)
Okay, apparently the badass declaration of how the MC subverts the prophecy is going to be in every story, and I am so here for it! King’s Favor is about a hedge-witch and spy who gets captured by the queen of a land nee must pass through. While in custody, nee forms a bond with a woman and they become friends (with some hints at a future romance maybe). This one was a bit slower to start as there’s a LOT of worldbuilding just kind of crammed in there, but once the story got going it was really enjoyable. I love when witchy beings have specific areas of magic as a specialty, and plant-based magic is also one of my faves, so this was especially a win for me.

His Father’s Son [5/5]
representation: transgender protagonist (uses he/him pronouns)
I have so many conflicted feelings. This one started really heartwarming, then got super angsty, then ended triumphantly, AND I AM A MESS OF EMOTIONS. In this story, the protagonist is Nocien, a trans boy who hasn’t come out to his mentor yet. He is determined to kill the man who slaughtered his entire family and, as you would imagine, the end fight scene is fucking badass and the prophecy-defying moment is just as badass as the last ones. This one just made me feel a lot of things, especially with the stuff at the start between Nocien and their mentor as they were sparring. Easily my favourite thus far.

Daughter of Kings [4/5]
representation: transgender protagonist (uses she/her pronouns)
So, this entire collection is fantasy and has lots of different magical beings woven into it, but I am loving the fact that witches of some kind are showing up in almost every story, even if it isn’t the main focus of this one. Instead, this focuses on the granddaughter of an influential queen who was prophesised to one day have a granddaughter who would be able to wield her sword and would rule over the kingdom. The protagonist, her companion and younger brother go into the woods and come across a witch who leads them to the sword and… you know where it’s gonna go from there. In conclusion, I love women being powerful, and I’m a little bit head over heels for Finndís.

Early to Rise [5/5]
representation: aro/ace genderfluid protagonist (uses she/her, he/him, they/them pronouns. I will be referring to the protagonist using he/him pronouns throughout the review as those are the final pronouns used in the story)
I’m always a slut for a reimagining of a problematic fairytale that takes away the problematic elements. Though, to be fair, the original Grimm’s fairytale of Sleeping Beauty had her raped and she only woke when she gave birth, so I guess Disney was the one that made it problematic?? Anyway, this story does none of that! The set-up is exactly as you would expect from a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, but the gender-related twist made it one of my favourite fairytale retellings, which is impressive considering how short it is. Claude is never explicitly stated to be aro/ace, for obvious time-period reasons, but I would say that the way he talks about not having a True Love makes it fairly obvious that he at least falls somewhere on the spectrum. Forget His Father’s Son, this one takes the medal of my favourite (so far, there’s still more to come)

No Man of Woman Born [4/5]
representation: questioning protagonist (uses he/him pronouns), side m/m relationship, side transgender character (uses he/him pronouns), side non-binary characters (one uses they/them pronouns, one uses kie/ker)
This one didn’t go at all like I was expecting, but I really liked it for that. Unlike the rest, which definitely had a more epic fairytale feel to them, this was one very quiet and personal, to the point where it feels like it could be set it any time period. There was a prophecy saying that “no man of woman born” could kill an important figure. Innes, the protagonist, has always felt a connection with the prophecy and this leads to him questioning his gender. There are some really great discussions between him and non-binary side characters, as well as a touching moment at the end between him and another character as they talk about relationships, gender and the prophecy. As someone who is always here for character driven stories, this one fulfilled my every need.

The Wish Giver [3/5]
representation: transgender protagonist (uses she/her pronouns)
This was just just short and sweet. It’s set in a village where there’s a dragon who can grant wishes, and a toddler goes to the dragon and wishes to have everyone acknowledge her as a girl. It’s only a few pages long, but was so fluffy and made my heart grow three sizes larger. 


Overall, my ratings average out to around a 4 (don't trust my math though, dividing has always been a weakness of mine). I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for good trans/non-binary rep (especially if you want said rep that isn't written by a cis person), for good twists on classic stories, or just a really solid fantasy anthology series.
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Review: ‘No Man of Woman Born’, Ana Mardoll

When I reviewed A Deceptive Alliance, I noted that it was not the book for you if you were looking for trans rep, or if you were interested in a narrative that interrogates gendered structures. No Man of Woman Born is quite possibly the book you want if you want adventure/fantasy trans rep, but it may or may not be what you want if you were looking for a book that interrogates the nature and shape of gender.

First up: there are no surprises in this book. That, in itself, is unsurprising: if you know Ana Mardoll from their media criticism, you’d expect them to write a book that priorities safety in its representation. All the stories come with trigger warnings, few feature intra-diegetic misgendering (that is, few characters face misgendering from other characters), and narrator never explicitly or implicitly casts any question on the characters’ gender. The whole premise is that fate knows these character’s true gender, and that’s how they fulfil assorted prophecies.

That works! This may be exactly what you are looking for. It has the potential to be immensely validating.

The downside is, there are few to no surprises in any other aspect of the storytelling either. Only one story has a twist on the ‘but I am no man’ (/ both man and woman / neither man nor woman / etc) format, and that is one by far my favourite. In the title story ‘No Man Born of Woman’ I spent my time wondering ‘okay but how will this prophecy be fulfilled, when the pieces don’t even add up from the protagonist’s point of view?’ Most of the others provided only mechanical uncertainty: what steps will he/she/they/xie take to slay the dragon / lift the curse / etc, and in many cases even that was obvious.

By the nature of adaptation and remediation, these stories can be said to interrogate gendered structures, in that they lampshade the narrow assumptions on which prophecies like Macbeth’s ‘no man born of woman’ and the Witch-King’s ‘no man’ rely. The title story, ‘No Man Born of Woman’ features underground donjons of women, young boys, non-binary people, people born by caesarian, and crack animal trainers, all hoping to circumvent the prophecy and kill the tyrant. The stories also feature a range of worldbuilding and settings - some settings have pre-existing social structures allowing for gender self-determination, and some do not. I particularly liked setting wherein clan members are assigned a boy or girl’s name at birth, and at puberty choose either a man or woman’s name - it’s clear from the narration that some people who begin with boys’ names chose women’s names and likewise girls and men, but this is not presented as a huge shock - the important binary is that of child vs adult. 

What this collection does not do - and that’s not necessarily a failing, it’s simply not its mission statement - is engage with gender as something that might develop or grow or change or be internally questioned. Only one story features a character in the process of figuring out their gender (and I did like that, although the prophecy resolved, it did not end with a Stamp of Certainty on that character’s personal journey). I know a lot of queer people, trans and otherwise, are fed up to the gills with stories about identity crisis, in which case: congrats, this book may be the book for you! I still have a hunger for stories about figuring out how to be a person in a body having nor not having gender - not necessarily coming out stories, but stories about change in oneself and change in one’s surroundings and how that interacts with one’s identity. I found myself persistently wondering what the edge cases look like the settings Mardoll describes. In the society where you can choose your name and role at puberty, what happens to someone who chooses a name because the role sort of fits, but finds it fits less and less well as they grow older? What happens to Both, or Neither, in that particular setting? 

All of this would have bothered me less if the stories had provided more innovation or surprise in their storytelling, as I noted above. As it was, the majority were predictable, and since I am not the target audience in terms of the kind of queer stories I feel validated by -  even stories squarely located on my demographic, I don’t get much out of Here Is A Bisexual Female Character Being Bisexual, In A Setting, without some kind of tension around who she is and how she does ‘being bisexual’ in that setting - I didn’t draw the validation benefits from it that others might.
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Like with every anthology, I loved some of the stories and didn't care much about others. All in all is an original take of classic fantasy stories with some great worldbuilding, and my main problem was that the rythm felt a bit off sometimes.
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The concept of this book held incredible promise it did not deliver as much as i wanted it to. The use of neopronouns and having these characters in the spotlight was great but their arcs and stories were too predictable for me to properly enjoy it. The writing was simple and reinforced the tone of the story. These stories would do well with a middle grade audience as these are essentially classic stories with a twist in characters rather than plot. For older audiences who have already read similar stories it does disappoint in that regard although it is important for those who can identify with the characters in these stories. 
That's not to say that i hated the book. Two of the stories were extremely good and i'm hoping to see similar characters in more books.

Tangled Nets : This was the first story and one of my favorites. The pacing and revelations were well done and Wren was a good protagonist. My only criticism is that the entire witch aspect of the story was rushed into the end.

King's Favor : I feel like this would have worked far better as a novel rather than a short story. The world building aspects were nicely done and i really wanted a portion of the story from Janeida's point of view. Again the plot was too predictable for me to really like it.

His Father's Son : This was one of my least favorite to be honest. I had to force myself to get through it. Nothing about it was unique enough to act as a ho

Daughter of Kings. : Again, interesting enough characters and world building but entirely predictable.

Early to Rise : This one i really liked. It's a Sleeping Beauty retelling far better than the original. I was grinning throughout and it was enjoyable to read.

No Man Of Woman Born : While the concept was interesting the story felt very incomplete.

The Wish-Giver : This one was cute, really although the outcome was obvious.
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*I Received this book by NetGalley for an honest Review*

Before we even start can we all take a second to swoon over this cover, seriously it drew me in right away. After reading the synopsis I was very interested. I can honestly say I had never read a book anything like it, and I'm trying very hard to expand my reading horizons with new books, genres and important topics. That being said I definitely only read this book for the cover and the fact it was LGBT, I'm still new to this world and know that I need to venture into with open eyes and heart so that I can have more of a perspective and opinion about the genre. 

I know so far this reads as a disclaimer and it sort of is, because I definitely enjoyed this book, but it wasn't one of my top books of the new year, or ever. I enjoyed the writing format and the stories very much. I especially enjoyed the fairytales and loved how they have changes and alterations that don't take from the novelty of the original but still mold into the amazingness the author was going for. The world building and flow of he writing was wonderful, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants something new and exciting. 

Now for the subtle things I didn't quite like, some things felt forced and bland at times. Not so bad that I didn't enjoy the book overall, but enough that sometimes I had to put it down and come back to it. I found some of it a hollow, and made it hard to really connect. A little more depth and I would say this was a 5 star. This is my personal preference and has nothing to do with the subjects of the read.

Honestly this is a great read and I do recommend it, I'm not at all sorry for reading it and look forward to seeing more work by the author. She's very talented.

Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!
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Oh my. I have no words. Having finished No Man of Woman Born I fear I may be hopelessly infatuated with Ana Mardoll's voice and vision. This was such a beautiful, powerful, and necessary collection. I am envious, jealous even, of a generation that gets to grow up reading empowering, inclusive stories like this alongside their mass-market fantasies.

What Mardoll offers here are familiar fantasy tales of sacrifice, vengeance, justice, and love. They are simple stories, a mix of fairy tale, fable, and fantasy, which follow the genre conventions we all know and love. Some of them are explicitly about gender, with pivotal questions of identity and expression. These are the stories that follow the prophecy from which the collection gets its name, where 'no man of woman born' is subverted in some clever and entertaining ways.

That said, there are no traps or surprises here, no big reveals designed to shock or titillate the reader. There is one story - a sword in the stone story - where the reveal of gender is done publicly and proudly, but it a moment of empowerment, of claiming one's destiny. There is also a story - a dragon sacrifice story - that is all about the wishing for one's true gender identity, but for all its very public spectacle, what exactly the wish changed, if anything, remains a very private thing.

It is the other stories that I think are even more important, however. They are the stories that are not about gender, but where the characters exist in a world where nonbinary genders are simply accepted without question, without comment, without hatred, and without ridicule. More importantly, they are accepted as a state of being, as a defined gender, and not some confusing phase of transition. There is no expectation that these characters ever were or will become binary. These are the stories where, if not for the gender-neutral pronouns, most readers likely would not have picked up on the gender aspect.

There are also stories here that straddle those two extremes, suitably non-binary stories of non-binary storytelling. There is one in particular that I just loved - a Sleeping Beauty style fairy tale - where the entire castle knows the protagonist has boy days and girl days, and where that duality of gender is the key to circumventing the fairy's curse.

Gender aspects aside, I would be woefully remiss if I did not call out the storytelling of Mardoll. These stories in No Man of Woman Born flow so beautifully, are so wonderfully readable, that it is almost too easy to overlook the polished sense of style. The writing is as beautiful as the sentiments it conveys, and I will never stop recommending this to friends.
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Title: No Man of Woman Born: Rewoven Tales

Publisher: Acacia Moon Publishing

Author: Ana Mardoll

Pages: 180pp

Price: $9.99/$4.99

A humble fisher and weaver of nets. A cunning hedge-witch of unremarkable power. An orphan on a path of revenge. A secret daughter who is the heir to a long-prophesied destiny. A royal heir cursed by faeries. A young warrior determined to rid the land of an evil tyrant. A child with one heart-felt wish ....

In this collection of seven stories, Mardoll weaves tales of love, duty, vengeance, courage, betrayal, dragons, and destiny -- and each features a non-binary character in the role of heroic protagonist.

I love epic fantasy, but I just do not have the time to devote to multi-volume sagas. As such, I grabbed a copy of Mardoll's No Man of Woman Born when I spotted it on netgalley. And I'll be honest -- it was the fantasy and witch parts that initially attracted me; the fact that the protagonists were all non-binary was interesting, but of secondary importance.

That changed the further I got into the collection. Mardoll's tales are filled with rich, wonderfully-realized characters; some very young, some on the cusp of adulthood, some mature in years. Each character's non-binary-ness is inherent not only to them as characters, but is also a necessary element of the story. Consider Finndís in "Daughter of Kings": there is a prophecy that a daughter of King Njáll will pull the golden sword from the stone and unite the fracturing tribes. Unfortunately, the King has no daughters -- except Finndís, who is female, even if no one else sees her that way.* In "Early to Rise" (a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty), Claude has been cursed to sleep until she is awakened by true love's kiss. Claude, however, has girl days, boy days, and days when they are neither. This loophole -- uh, nope, sorry. No spoilers. 

No Man of Woman Born was a thought-provoking and enchanting introduction to a new writer and the worlds xie can create. I will definitely be reading more of xer work in the future. ... Um, it would be really cool if some of these characters got their own books; just sayin' ....

I highly recommend No Man of Woman Born to fans of epic fantasy; anyone looking for stories with non-traditional protagonists, especially non-binary/genderqueer heroes; and fans of Effie Calvin, KJ Charles, and Jordan L Hawk. 

 

* By the way, that's Finndís on the cover. :)
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No Man of Woman Born is a collection of short stories featuring prominent characters who do not identify as cisgender – there are trans princes, non-binary princesses, genderfluid royals whose family adapt pronouns used accordingly, and it’s beautiful. With a title taken from Shakespeare, and a prologue mentioning the infamous scene in which Tolkien’s Éowyn defies a gendered prophecy by proclaiming that while no man may complete it, she is no man, I knew this was going to be good. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I loved it. I have a mixed history with short story anthologies in that I usually want to love them and then end up really, really disappointed. However, Mardoll did not disappoint with this collection of fantastical stories ranging from princesses determined to live as such in a world that denies them their true names to peasants avenging the death of loved ones.

 

Soldiers and seers had been helpless before the dragon, but they had been men and women. Wren was neither, yet the knowledge did not make xer feel special. Xie simply was xerself, in the same way Halwen was a witch.

 

Each story comes with a list of warnings where appropriate, and many also come with a phonetic guide to the pronouns used. For example Wren, the collection’s first protagonist, uses xie and xer. Now while this may look confusing at first, it is literally a few letters from being she and her both of which are used all the time so really it’s not that big of a leap. It’s even phonetic so you know how to say it aloud!

 

I once wrote a good portion of my dissertation defending the use of ‘they/them’ as pronouns in academic texts and I for a First Class Honours Degree. Fight me with your ‘oh but won’t it get confusing’ bullshit. If it got confusing, then I’d have been marked a lot less using it again and again for 13,000 odd words.

 

“Father never believed me,” she whispered , so softly she wasn’t sure he heard. “I told him when I was younger than Rúni, still just a baby. He thought I’d heard Leifur and Magni talking about the prophecy, but I hadn’t known anything about it. I wouldn’t have cared even if I had! I didn’t want to be a queen or hold a magic sword, I just wanted him to stop calling me something I wasn’t. I wanted him to see me.”

 

Aside from being wonderful fantasy stories with the traditional hallmarks of the genre – dragons, prophecies, witches and spells and curses – these stories contain some very poignant moments. The quote above is from Daughter of Kings, the collection’s fourth tale, and I thought it was beautiful. Finndís, the daughter of the King, never sets out to be a prophesied ruler – only to be seen in her father’s eyes as the young woman she has always been. She does not want a crown, or the influence of the council, or a socially important marriage – she wants people to call her by her name, and say ‘she’ when they refer to her. So not much at all, in a land where Kingdoms are at stake. These stories are about people who – to quote Mardoll directly – “aren’t special because they are trans; they are special and they are trans”. Yes, these stories open up the floor for discussion of rigid gender binaries and just how necessary they are in settings where flesh-eating dragons literally live next door and demand sacrifices, they show how much complexity, colour and depth can be added to tales of prophecy and magic, but they also exist purely as a series of incredibly enjoyable, well-written stories that just happen to feature trans people. They can also be fantastically funny. One of my favourite lines was definitely the following:

 

If gossip from the capital could be believed, the last attempt on the overlord’s life had involved an exotic undetectable poison, a goat, and a young culinary genius.

 

Does that, or does that not, sound like a Skyrim side-quest?

 

“You are my child, and you are special and loved . Whether you’re a boy, or a girl, or both, or neither, or something else entirely, Eoghan and I will love you as we always have and always will.”

 

There are some amazing dynamics between characters, my favourite possible being that of Claude and their family in Early to Rise where despite being about a genderfluid child with a curse hanging over their head, Mardoll manages to include the sorts of moments every family experiences – the ‘don’t tell mum’ moment where a sibling helps you do something they shouldn’t, those awkward discussions with parents about who you fancy, and Claude’s all-consuming love for their family who accept them on boy days, girl days, and the days where they’re not sure but they know they’re loved regardless.

 


“How do you know when a shoe doesn’t fit quite right? It covers your foot and it’s better than nothing at all, because you’re not getting burrs stuck in your heel when you walk, and no shoe is perfect. Maybe if you just wear thicker socks, it’ll feel right. Maybe all shoes are bad and you just need to accept it and stop complaining that your feet hurt.” Kie grinned, shaking kir head. “And then one day you take the shoe off and try on a different one and it’s like you’re seeing sunshine for the first time. And you realize shoes can be comfortable, you were just wearing the wrong one.”

 

I loved this book, each story was a perfect little tale of love and defiance that both invoked and reworked tales we know well – sleeping beauty and her spindle, waiting for a prince, the sword in the stone and the leader who will pull it free – and created worlds both fantastical and moving. Please read this book.

 

I want to finish with a few quotes from the Author’s note at the end of the book.

 

Please only refer to characters by their correct pronouns. For characters whose gender might be considered a ‘spoiler’, it would be better not to reference them at all in reviews rather than concealing their gender with incorrect pronouns .

 

More resources on transgender characters and how to write about them are available at GLAAD.org and Nonbinary.org for those who are interested. I owe a debt of gratitude to Vee (@ FindMeReading) of GayYA.Org for sharing their poignant thoughts regarding how trans characters are handled in book reviews and how we can better serve our community.

 

Overall rating: 5 books out of 5

 

A Copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review
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The book as a whole. 4/5
I really enjoyed it. The author’s note was so touching and I think the hopes for this book were realized. Diversity in all types of fiction are really necessary so that we might all find ourselves and our potential in the stories we enjoy. The one thing at the beginning that threw me off was that these really are short stories/fairy tales. These are not long novels with in-depth stories and though that is made very obvious in the description this sometimes made me feel left hanging. Now, to the stories themselves

Tangled Nets 3/5
Wren was an interesting character. Xhie had obviously been through a lot with xer sister and there was a lot going on, but I just didn’t feel attached to xer.  There was some cool world exploration, but right as I wanted to know more about xer the story was over. I think my biggest thing was there was some information about the other dragons and what happened to the white dragon that while interesting would have been better used as time to explore Wren more.

King’s Favor 3/5
I liked this one better than Tangled Nets. There’s world building, but there’s also some exploration of Caran that I enjoyed about why nee was doing what nee was doing and why nee was specifically chosen. While I felt a bit of attachment to nee I wanted more. Caran got this amazing opportunity at the end and then it was over.

His Father’s Son 5/5
This story was all I wanted! Nocien was the first character I really felt attached to in the book and he was glorious. We got his backstory through him remembering everything in a lot more detail than I feel like the previous short stories and I was hooked. Then, there was action, a great amount of it that really hit you and then the ending! I felt like I got the complete story.

Daughter of Kings 4/5
This one got me right in the feels. Finndis is lovely, but there’s a past that is a bit painful. We get just enough of her history to really enjoy her victory. What a great story.

Early to Rise 3/5
The most obvious retelling of a fairy tale in the book. An interesting retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It was short, but I enjoyed it well enough

No man of Woman Born 4/5
Innes asks some great questions about prophesies that I admit I never thought about. I love that all the details don’t seem to slow any of these characters down. I think it really speaks to most of us who have dreamed of being heroes during at least one point in our lives. What a great story to give people faith in themselves.

The Wish-Giver 4/5
Short, but so heartwarming.
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Since every story in the collection shares a theme - of gendered prophecies being subverted or fulfilled by trans or nonbinary characters - some of the stories felt repetitive because I knew what was coming. I liked the stories that played with the reader's expectations in light of that theme, like Early to Rise. Overall I did like each story individually, but having all of them together somewhat lessened the impact for me. Still, a very solid collection and delightfully inclusive.
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A really cool collection of fantasy short stories where transgender and nonbinary characters take centre stage. No Man subverts gendered prophecies of tales that are old as time. There are pronunciation guides provided for each story. And that’s what I liked a lot, since I follow Ana Mardoll on twitter, they’re very informative and a pretty interesting person. I was already aware of some nonbinary terms, but this book introduces some ones I wasn’t aware of. 

My favourite of all the stories was either Tangled Nets or His Father’s Son. All are amazing but these two caught my eye the most and was most intriguing to read.
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This was an absolute joy. If you like fantasy at all, especially if you like twists on fantasy tropes, you need to read this. Despite most of the stories all being based on the idea "prophecy seems to foretell that evil ruler/dragon/monster will never be killed, turns out it was actually talking about a trans person who would do it," they never get old. Each one has a different cliché prophecy and subverts it in a new way. It's creative and well-written and what so many people are looking for right now. Trans girls and trans boys saving their people! Nonbinary heroes getting dragged into fighting evil! People who are still figuring out their gender and if they could be the prophesied warrior! Collect them all!

The one thing I still don't understand is why the theme was broken for the very last story, which didn't involve a prophecy. I liked it, but I was confused at the sudden break from the premise. Nevertheless, you should read it.
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This is a good collection, though not quite what I was expecting. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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I've been following Ana Mardoll on twitter for ages, but never read one of xer books (my TBR is SO long, and I try to not acquire more books, also for financial reasons), but when I saw the following tweet, I could not help myself:

https://twitter.com/AnaMardoll/status/1054408759659913217

So on to Netgalley I went, and requested and send to kindle I did. 
And I loved it. The stories had a lovely length befitting to the story. The only one that I wished was a bit longer, was the last one, about a little girl going to a dragon to have a wish granted. I just wanted to see what kind of adventures she would have when she was older, since she was so brave and sure as a toddler.

It's amazing to see how genderessentalist tropes and fairytales get turned on their head, when a protaganist isn't cis gendered, or falls outside of the gender-binary. It was lovely to see stories where the gender of the main character was a plotpoint, but not a problem (except for one story, where the near family does not accept the gender identity of the protagonist, but even there the problem is not that the protagonist is trans, but the problem is that his father finds that hard to accept. And even that is not the main issue in the story).

I've learned that witches and dragons and sorcerers really need to take a gender 101 class if they want to see their curses actually be successful in the long term. And this also rekindled my love for fairytell retellings. And realised that stories about non-cis characters are really validating to my own non-cis gender identity. More please! Maybe I should lift my selfimposed book-buying ban...
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Having seen this book talked about by a few people, I jumped at the chance to get to read & review it. Some of the stories were a little too short or simple for my tastes (which is usually my main problem with short story anthologies and the reason I don't often read them) and had they all been quite similar I probably would've dropped a star or two, but while they all follow the same basic theme (gender-based prophecies being misinterpreted only to be fulfilled by trans people), each of these stories were unique enough that I thoroughly enjoyed reading them all.

The author's note at the beginning of the book was a really nice touch -- I had no idea that Mardoll xerself was genderqueer, and seeing yourself represented on the page is 1000% nicer when you know it's not just because a cis author thought including one (1) vaguely non-cis character would earn them diversity points or whatever.

All in all, 'No Man of Woman Born' was just a really NICE read, written specifically for people like me, by someone like me. It unapologetically places trans characters front and centre, without trying to cater for cis people's preconceived ideas: at no point did any character have to 'prove' their gender in order for them to be accepted, and even when other characters didn't understand, not once did they ever try to tell them that they were wrong; not even the sexist ones.

I would strongly recommend this book to any and all non-cis people looking to find some real representation, and I would highly recommend this book to any fantasy loving cis person willing to listen and learn.
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I could never really lose myself in the story and it started off somewhat weird. I spent much of the time trying to understand it and after awhile I think I just zoned out.
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The stories in this book are beautiful.  The way the author takes well-known fairy tale tropes and subverts the gendered stereotypes associated is extremely well done.  The helpful tips to using neopronouns provided before each story is a nice touch that will help readers who are new to the concept.  Overall, a wonderful book.  I'll definitely be adding to my personal collection, and advocating for its addition to our library.
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I requested this book based on the title and cover. I am so glad I did. This book had me turning page after page!
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This book took me a while to get into.

I am trying to read more LGBTQIA books so i can see more representation of myself and my friends in the world.
This novel definitely achieved that head on in every mini story and taught me things i didn't know like neo pronouns in literature.

I loved the way they changed up the well known fairytales - usually you can tell the ending but in this novel you couldn't as they had re-written the entire theme in order to allow the transgender or non-binary character to blossom.

This was okay, but it was a little bit too shallow in the storytelling. I think i would prefer this sort of book if it was one story in depth focused on one character. 

Book given in exchange for a free review.
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This has one of the most inclusive casts of characters, I've read from binary, non-binary, Gender Fluid to transgender characters. I think the pronouns and language use in the book reflect the LGBT community as a whole.  The prophecies in the book a written beautiful with gender in mind. 

I was given this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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