Book Review

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It has often been argued that there is only one story and all the poems and novels and epics ever created are simply different retellings of that one story, which is the quest to find something. Jocelyn Lieu’s Potential Weapons is certainly such a tale – and the object of her quest is also both ancient and universal, for she is seeking her own identity. But the identity of a woman far from the home of her ancestors is a complicated thing, something not so much to be found as to be crafted from found fragments. This is thus in part a quest that is a search after something that has been lost but also a quest for something that was never owned, to begin with. These are the two primary themes of the work – that identity can be recovered but that this process of recovery is also one of creation. The one who goes on a quest for personal meaning, for personal identity, is an active agent in the creation of her own identity.

Quest tales do, of course, differ from each other in important ways. There are great differences among the heroes and villains who set out in search of something, and whatever it is that they are searching for changes the nature of the story at least as much as does the character of the traveler.

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