Just reread this one for probably the third or fourth time. It touched me more than before. The little girl who was so terribly burned as a young child, who was brutalized and left for dead, she represents all of us. All who have been terrorized, scarified, mercilessly used when we were young and innocent and unable to fend for ourselves, unable to fight back or reject what was done to us.
And thereafter, almost everyone in the book treats her like she is what was done to her. They flinch from her, they quickly look away. They define her by how she was treated. They try to seal the judgement of those who harmed her, to tell her that she is indeed worthless, nothing, unwelcome, unhappy, nonhuman, unreal. They are afraid. She can look in their eyes and see them backing up, see them horrified. And they ask Tenar, her true mother, "why would you save her, when you know what her life must be?" "What were you thinking?" "Why didn't you leave her to die?"
And indeed that's what the world says and thinks. It's too much effort to heal such wounds. They can't be healed. The victim is forever tainted. Stay away. Adopt someone who is a baby, who isn't yet damaged goods. Don't adopt this horror. Don't try to heal the wrong. There's no chance of healing.
But that is not what Christ says. He says these little ones are me. Whatsoever you do to these least, you do to me. He's the God who was tortured to death. The innocent who suffers. He also hints what is to come for those who do harm to them. He talks about millstones, about drowning in the sea. How it would have been better for them that way. Dark hints.
UKL is not religious, yet never have I heard her proclaim Christ more than she does in this book. Hell yes, those little ones matter. Yes they are real. These last shall be first. Kalessin, the eldest, huge and powerful, who speaks the language of the making, he calls her daughter. He comes at her call, and those others, those are they of whom he takes no notice. Those are they who are as rags and oily smudges under and after his coming.
With or without power, with or without worldly fame and glory, those are most real who see, who listen, who respect and love the little ones. The ones who are wounded, wronged, violated, and hurt.