It's an epic. It's a story told on a grand scale with sweeping consequences. And it's a very emotionally draining one.
Let's start with Shadarii, the Silent Lady. All her life, she wanted to find some way of expressing the love within herself. First it was through dance, which did give her a form of sign language. Reminded me of ritualized Hindu dance. Eventually she did find a way to communicate, to those who would listen. Her creation of a system of writing, of preserving history and knowledge beyond the life of elders, mirrored the myth she created (and danced) about First Mother's discovery/invention of singing and cooking.
Then there's the small matter of her assumption of goddesshood, first through the agency of the Ka called Starwing, then under her own steam/faith. Starwing's gift of power seemed too easy, and in time, it was revealed as a temptation. Starwing might have fought Serpent in the name of Ultimate Good, but showed itself as Serpent's other face. The final fate of the two Ka, trapped together to grapple for all eternity, suggests C.S. Lewis's Pharisee wine.
Shadarii became an incarnation of love, but not a jealous or possessive one. She loved Kotaru-Keketal enough to let him go to Harish -- just as Harish loved him enough to risk losing him to Shadarii. That told Shadarii that Harish was worthy of Kotaru's love. Meanwhile, the Silent Lady had an entire world to love and care for.
And then there's her sister. Shadarii was heavy; Hokaru was slim. Shadarii took a lover; Hokaru remained virginal. Shadarii was mute; Hokaru used her voice to foment rebellion. Shadarii became a force for creation and peace; Hokaru became an avatar of bloody revolution. Yet all along, the Dream Hokaru fought for, social equity and unity, remained. More than a few eggs (and skulls) were sacrificed for that omelette, but while it's easy to argue with her methods, no one who had seen the Kashra mired in Rules and Station could argue with her goal. Hokaru's tale is one of ends and means, as is Shadarii's. Both, in moments of passion, were prepared to commit atrocious acts. Both tamed the destructive spirits (Ka and otherwise) within.
It's somehow fitting that Kitashii and Rooshikii wound up playing together. They continue the sisters' parallelism: Kitashii was spared rape, while Rooshiki recovered from it.
I've yet to decide whether I like the ending. I don't mean Shadarii's decision to leave Kotaru-Keketal with Harish. That part of the story I agree with. But...how many times was Shadarii brought back to life? How many times did she cheat death? First she's drugged, to be given over to the priests, but Kitashii helps her heal. Then she exhausts herself, pouring out her love on a world destroyed by war, and her accolytes revive her. Even when the end was her own choosing, her followers (and destiny) wouldn't allow her to die.
On the one hand, it seems mythically appropriate for Shadarii to die, her labors ended, her enemy conquered. On the other, as those who love her so rightly pointed out, she's obsessed with becoming a mythic figure -- living out what she'd merely re-enacted through dance. One could make the argument that dying is the easy way out for a goddess. Instead, Shadarii must live to preserve the world Hokaru died and killed to create, and to expiate her sister's sins.
Hokaru gave birth to the new world order, and as with any birth, there was pain. Like any mother, launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same, she proved herself deadlier than the male -- certainly, far more lethal than her hidebound father and the patriarchy he represented. But if Hokaru is the birth mother, and Daimiru the midwife, then Shendarii is the adoptive mother. It is a particular irony that, though Hokaru remained a virgin, she became a mother; though Shendarii took a lover, she had no children of her own. Now, she lovingly cradles her sister's child.
With apologies to George Carlin, I don't really have an ending for this, so I'll just take a small bow. More later, perhaps.