In Book I of the trilogy, Tamras arrives in Merin’s house to begin her apprenticeship as a warrior, but her small stature causes many, including Tamras herself, to doubt that she will ever become a competent swordswoman. To make matters worse, the Lady Merin assigns her the position of companion, little more than a personal servant, to a woman who came to Merin’s house, seemingly out of nowhere, the previous winter, and this stranger wants nothing to do with Tamras.
[Originally posted on Amazon 1/31/10]
Since getting my Kindle I’ve read quite a few self-published stories and books, and while some of that stuff is so bad as to be unreadable I’ve had fairly good luck with picking fiction that is at least decent, even if somewhat flawed. Usually the flaws show up in lack of editing and proof reading, but sometimes the writers show a lot of promise or talent.
When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson is an exception in that it’s a very polished, professionally crafted book by a self-published author who as far as I can tell doesn’t have any traditional publishing credits. I ended up being very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and the book.
Wilson’s writing is very smooth and she does an excellent job of creating intriguing characters with depth. The story is slow in unfolding, and yet the pacing is just right so that it doesn’t drag. The book kept me interested all the way through, even though there really isn’t any action to speak of or major exciting events. Which again points to the skill of the writer. The story is primarily about the experiences and internal changes the characters undergo.
I would label the book as fantasy in that it’s medievalish in what appears to be more a made up world than historical. But it’s not traditional fantasy, in that it’s only kinda swords and without the sorcery. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-written, character-driven story about female warriors within a predominantly female setting.
Here’s one of the passages I highlighted on my Kindle:
I tried to remember how I had felt at home when I was looking forward to seeing someplace new. Everything there was so familiar that I longed for something different. Now I longed for just one familiar thing. I felt like a bird, caged all its life, set free by an open window and cowering upon the windowsill.
[Blog Note: While I thought the book was very good, I have serious problems with the author’s pricing strategy. I paid only a dollar for the first part, currently it’s free on Amazon and apparently the author’s website. I’d agree that’s unreasonably cheap for quality fiction. However, the second and third “books” are both priced at $10 each, and have been the whole time they’ve been available.
When you factor in that the three “books” are not actually a trilogy, but a long novel broken into three parts, it really irks me that the author is charging more than what people pay for new releases from traditional publishers, without having most of the overhead associated with running a publishing company. Even with the first part free, readers are being asked to pay $20 for an ebook that from Stephen King (to list someone who writes long books) would cost $17 at most at release, and eventually only $8-9.
I’m not saying all this to try and dissuade people from reading the book, at least the first part, because it is good reading. I guess I just had to take the opportunity to rant a little. I would have loved to read the whole thing, but there’s no way I’m going to pay an outrageous price. Especially when so many other great books are frequently offered by publishers for less than $5.]