sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
sophia_sol ([personal profile] sophia_sol) wrote2017-06-20 09:08 pm

The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein

I first heard a recommendation for this book a LONG time ago, so when I finally got my hands on a copy and started reading it, I had totally forgotten everything I'd been told of what to expect from this book.

So I found that what the book was actually about was rather unexpected for me. But in a good way!

It reminded me a bit of the later Pern books in that it was a secondary-world fantasy about a society that had evidence of technology but no general understanding of it. That sort of blend of science and fantasy is unusual and I like it. But otherwise it's very unlike Pern. (among other things it's better than Pern)

It's about a woman who holds the position of "steerswoman" - basically which means that she's bound to answer questions from anyone who asks her anything, but also she goes around asking questions of other people in order to understand the world. But steerswomen and wizards do not get along, and our main character's latest project is drawing the attention of a wizard who wants to kill her for the knowledge she's seeking.

I love the steerswomen, and the role they have in society, and the rigorous training in observation and understanding they have. Having a character like that as your main character in a fantasy novel is, well, pretty novel in my experience, and I loved what it did for the story.

I was less impressed by the one scene in the book that does the whole "torture is hard but sometimes necessary to do even for a good person" thing that gets me mad like few other narrative tropes do. WHY IS THIS A THING. CAN WE STOP IT BEING A THING.

But overall: excellent book and I defs want to read the rest in the series!

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