“Tangled Nets” launches No Man of Woman Born, Mardoll’s collection of short fiction featuring characters who “aren’t special because they are trans, they are special and they are trans” and I am so on board.
Set in the remains of a place once part of a larger kingdom (now a shoreline village with many families eking out survival from the water), we meet Wren, a fisher older than xer years, trying to keep xer mother alive and their bellies full while living under the shadow of the white dragon that “allows” the humans to live in the area in return for a yearly sacrifice of one of their own.
As mentioned in the introduction to the collection, the tales here play on the titular prophecy “no man of woman born” and this story front-and-centres this. It’s not a surprise, but it’s the journey that’s so freaking enjoyable. Watching Wren find xer courage and determination to change things, to break free of a horrible cycle that has already cost xer family so much already, was such a great feeling. (And the added touch of the unplanned results of xer actions were like a little fantasy cherry on top.)