Sunday, April 06, 2014

GoodReads Review: Sword & Sorceress XIII

Sword and Sorceress XIIISword and Sorceress XIII by Marion Zimmer Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A solid anthology of stories featuring female protagonists who conquer the odds, this volume didn't strike me as being as strong as some of the others ... it had some weaker stories, and fewer "wow" moments. That said, there were some strong tales, in particular Leslie Ann Miller's "Sun Dancer" - and both Marella Sand's "Tortoise Weeps" and Diana L. Paxson's "Twilight" came to life with their well-researched, deftly incorporated historical settings.

I think what struck me about this anthology is that, in contrast to later volumes - even XVII, only four years later - it had a particular emphasis on the idea of women facing barriers because inferior men wouldn't listen to them, or men traditionally inherit, etc ... and the male side of it comes off as something of a straw-man. Nowadays, if fiction portrays this scenario as so black and white, we're prone to respond with skepticism or, "Now tell me something new." Gender inequality is still very real, but (in most cases) it's somewhat subtler, and readers want more variation and nuance when the idea is explored.

This anthology is certainly worth reading, but not as strong as some other volumes.

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