June 20, 2015

The Warrior's Tale by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch

Title:  The Warrior's Tale
Author:  Allan Cole & Chris Bunch
Pages:  438
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1994
My prayers are saved for those who keep my blood in my skin, and that tight and whole about my bones.
Synopsis:  Captain Rali Emilie Antero came from an illustrious and wealthy trading family whose members included a wizard, long dead, and a famous adventurer, Amalric - very much alive and regaling rapt audiences with tales of his quest to the legendary Far Kingdoms. Much was expected of an Antero...

But Rali cared little for magic and magicians, and even less for journeying, particularly on the ocean. She was a soldier, committed to defending Orissa, the city of her birth, and to winning respect for her command, the elite, all-women Maranon Guard. Winning battles was no problem for the Guard; but there were too many jealous men who wanted the women warriors out of the way. So just when Rali should have been at home, resting on the laurels of her latest victory, she found herself assigned to lead a suicide mission: a seagoing odyssey in search of an evil master wizard - the last Archon of Lycanth - who had fled with a doomsday spell, a secret that could destroy all of civilization.

And so Rali Antero and her Maranon warriors set out to sea, with the wizard Gamelan, on an epic hunt for Orissa's most deadly enemy. It would be Rali's greatest challenge: a desperate pursuit, raging across the great Western Sea, past the barbaric caravan port of Jeypur, past Tiger Bay and the Lemon Coast, past even the Jasmine Islands, to the great fire reefs that marked the end of the world - and beyond, to places unmarked even in legend.

But only in the uncharted territories of her own soul -- and the heritage of the Anteros -- would Rali find the power to defeat the Archon and return to Orissa in triumph.
What would be best of all, I believe, is that she'd be her own woman; refuse to be anything but equal to any man in whatever life she chooses.
Review:  I loved this book.  Passionately.  I read the last 1/3 in one sitting.  It is slam full of strong female characters.  Rali, the Captain of the Maranon Guard, in particular.  But there are so many others I loved including:  Polillo, the axe-wielding woman with a giant's strength; Corais, the woman who gave her life to save Rali; and Ismet, an older warrior who is the heart of the Maranon.  Even Xia, the princess, kicked butt.

Sure, they are all lesbians, every last one of them, but it was so very refreshing to have an entire cast of strong female characters that I didn't mind a bit.  In fact, it just added to my glee at their lack of care for what society thinks.  It was so refreshing to find a book that unabashedly says that women are equal to (and sometimes better than) their male counterparts.  Couple that with a great story, and I was hooked.

The action didn't stop.  The scenic lands were inspiring.  The demons and evil Archon were scary.  This book had everything from cannibalistic demons to sea battles to love scenes.  It was so far and away better than it's prequel, and many other Fantasy books that I've read, that I'd give it 13 stars if I could.

Rating:  10 / 10

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