2 of 5 stars.
In folklore and fantasy, different magic systems draw power and influence [or glamour] from various sources. One recurring source is language and writing despite language being mostly arbitrary and writing being variably arbitrary. The representation of the word [graphic or spoken] completes the link for the magic.
In this tale, nations use graphological magic and magic users to wage war. In particular, a talented magic user, Kodai, and her apprentice, Nawong, attempt to overcome the empire’s enemies whom they call “The Spiders” since the enemy’s word for themselves is similar to the imperial word for spiders–yet another arbitrary linguistic link with real ramifications. Kodai is well-versed in the ways of calligraphy and forgery and decides on a route of attack that will render the Spider language obsolete and bleed her enemies into non-existence–thus, the graphology of hemorrhage. Unfortunately, doing so threatens to redact herself from language and history, too . . .
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, which I received directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “Combustion Hour”, “Falcon-and-Sparrows” and “Wine”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]