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I’m trying to recall a book I read years ago. It was about a culture (maybe human) or race on a planet who had a culture wrapped up in death… Dying… Think Egyptian Victorian all concerned with funerals and memorials. I want to say there was a character called Lal’Lorien or The Lal’Lorien.

I think someone was trying to change the culture, or empire maybe. I feel like it MAY have had a vaguely oriental ‘feel’ with ‘elf’ like flavour, but I truly can’t recall. Thought I’d throw it out there and see if anyone goes “oh yes!” Had luck finding Death Scent and Styx by asking online.

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    When did you read this? Do you remember if it was a paperback? Hardback? Kindle? Web page?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 18 at 20:11
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    When was "years ago?" 2022? 2010? 1965?
    – DavidW
    Commented Jan 18 at 20:32
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    Not clear what you mean by a "death culture". "Egyptian Victorian" wtf? Also what is an "oriental feel" and what is an "elf like flavour"?
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 18 at 21:17
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    Gideon The Ninth if "years ago" means 4ish years?
    – Shawn
    Commented Jan 18 at 21:52

1 Answer 1

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Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen.

The year is 2132 when members of the Anthropologist’s Guild set down on the planet Henderson’s IV, or L’Lal’lor as it is known to the native population. Charged with the nonintrusive study of alien cultures, the crew discovers a society containing no love or laughter. It is, instead, centered around death—a world of aristocratic and common folk in which grieving is an art and the cornerstone of life. But the alien civilization stands on the brink of astonishing change, heralded by the discovery of Linni, the Gray Wanderer, a young woman from the countryside whose arrival has been foretold for centuries. And for Anthropologist First Class Aaron Spenser, L’Lal’lor is a place of destructive temptations, seducing him with its mysterious, sad beauty, and leading him into an unthinkable criminal act.

When you say:

I want to say there was a character called Lal’Lorien or The Lal’Lorien

You are remembering the planet is L’Lal’lor (aka the Planet of the Grievers) and the people are the L’Lal’lorians.

If I am allowed an editorial comment it is that this is one of the hidden gems of science fiction and deserves to be more widely known than it is. It's in the anthropological genre of science fiction that Ursula Le Guin is so well known for, but I found the book moved me in a way that Le Guin sometimes fails to.

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