Today, we take a look at two fantasy novels featuring young female heroines that I’ve recently added to my ever-expanding list. And, as a bonus, at least one of them lacks romance!
The Paladin by C. J. Cherryh
Swordmaster Shoka bids farewell to court intrigue after the death of the old Emperor. Taizu, who is determined to become a swordwoman, seeks out Shoka and begs his help to exact revenge upon the evil tyrant Lord Ghita. Soon, Shoka and Taizu become the stuff of legends. A fantasy epic by the author of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novels Cyteen and Downbelow Station.
I know the cover is so hilariously eighties it hurts, but the recommendation comes from an author I’ve just discovered–Jo Walton, the author of the wonderful Tooth and Claw. She’s in the process of posting book recommendations alphabetically over at Tor from her own collection, which I’ve been getting a lot of recommendations out of. Also, you may have noticed I love fantasy that takes its cues from other sources other than medieval Europe.
Because it was published in 1988, there aren’t a lot of reviews of it floating around the Web. Tim from Tim & Jenn’s Bookshelf quite enjoyed it, especially praising its organic nature but pointing out that it’s not traditional fantasy, in that there are no fantastical elements. It merits an average of four stars on Amazon, although, again, most people take the time to point out it’s “low fantasy”. I think that while I won’t go out of my way to pick it up, I’ll get to it eventually.
The Paladin was published July 1, 1988.
Runemarks by Joanne Harris
Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins had been at the cellar again. . . . Not that anyone would admit it was goblins. In Maddy Smith’s world, order rules. Chaos, old gods, fairies, goblins, magic, glamours–all of these were supposedly vanquished centuries ago. But Maddy knows that a small bit of magic has survived. The “ruinmark” she was born with on her palm proves it–and makes the other villagers fearful that she is a witch (though helpful in dealing with the goblins-in-the-cellar problem). But the mysterious traveler One-Eye sees Maddy’s mark not as a defect, but as a destiny. And Maddy will need every scrap of forbidden magic One-Eye can teach her if she is to survive that destiny.
I’ve heard of Runemarks; I’ve read Joanne Harris’ Chocolat, but I didn’t realize this was her first young adult novel. There’s a poster in Little Shop of Stories advertising her visit long before I went to school. It was Anastasia’s review over at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog that made me add it to my list.
In it, she praises the plot, as well as the heroine and the use of the Norse source material. And, as a bonus, there’s no romance. (YES.) Kathryn Hughes at The Guardian especially loves its readability and the worldbuilding, as well as the connection between the characters and their environment. Sounds good to me!
Runemarks was published January 8, 2008.