A short story collection about women who fight, one way or another. Not all of the stories have fighting in them, though. Also, some of the stories include non-hetero characters.

Publication year: 2016
Format: pdf ebook
Page count: 316
Publisher: Evil Girlfriend Press

The collection has three stories with female smiths, which was great; I think I’ve only read about one or two before. The women in these stories are practical and level-headed. They’re warriors who are used to danger. A couple of stories have retired women which was also delightful; they’re also too rare in fantasy. I enjoyed all of the stories.

All of these worlds have equality between sexes and that makes sense. Women and men fight side by side in these armies and women aren’t challenged because of their gender. That was really refreshing. Two stories even have female gladiators. I know that the Roman arenas had female gladiators but they’re hardly ever mentioned.

The stories vary greatly in mood. A couple of them are funny, a few heart-breaking, most are intense and exciting and explore the main character well. Most of them have magic, in one way or another. The most melancholy story is the first one from Judith Tarr.

Attrition by Judith Tarr: The Queen of the Amazons is dead but some of her warriors are still alive, even though they’re surrounded by men who want to take everything from them.

Armor the color of War by David Szarzynski: An abbot comes to Lady Heathwiln asking for her help. But not in her current occupation as a smith but her previous one, as fabled fighter.

No Better Armor, No Heavier Burden by Wunji Lau: Rose hasn’t seen her sons in a long time. But when one of them comes to her for aid, he brings a lot of trouble with him. This story had excellent and very interesting world building and I’d love to see more stories in this fantasy Wild West setting.

The Blood Axe by Mary Pletsch: After decades of fighting Imperial forces, Agrona returns home to her sister and nephew. She’s wondering if the only legacy she’ll leave behind is dead soldiers. But she has a chance to do different things.

First Command by Chris A. Jackson: Camwynn is Lord Fornish’s second squire. Lord Fornish is seriously wounded in battle and before he dies, he appoints Camwynn as the Commander of his troops. Unfortunately, the first squire doesn’t agree. Even in the middle of a war, he challenges Camwynn’s competence.

The Bound Man by Mary Robinette Kowal: Halldór and his men have retrieved the legendary sword of Li Reiko but they’re attacked by bandits. In desperation, Halldór invokes the legendary warrior. And succeeds but in a way he didn’t expect.

Pride and Joy by Eric Landreneau: For ten years, beautiful Regana has been the best gladiatrix in Baygonne. But now scarred warrior Mad Boar is determined to win the prize for herself. And she has very personal reasons for wanting it.

Voice of the Trees by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood: Acoria is a dryad. When her tree tells her that the water in the forest has become tainted, she has to find the source of the sickness.

The Raven and the Swans by Amy Griswold: Carlin killed the Elf Queen’s brother and now is her prisoner. The Queen intends to ransom Carlin. But Carlin’s biggest worry are her sword-brothers who also prisoners and can expect no mercy.

The Family Business by Kristy Griffin Green: Naomi is a smith and her husband works with computers but they’re also grandparents. When their grandchild comes running to Naomi talking about monsters, she knows just what to do.

Stone Woken by Crystal Lynn Hilbert: Hjalli and Kvern are sister-kings for hardy people who live under the mountain. When the World-Eater awakens, Kvern decides to confront it, even if she has to face a fate worse than death.

Serendipity by Steve Bornstein: Cade is a sword-dancer and a bodyguard. One of the mysterious Kin contacts her and offers her a job: to guard him while he performs a ritual in a dragon’s lair. Cade can’t resist a challenge like that.

Ravenblack by Alex C. Renwick: Ravenblack is the lordess of Hounds’ Keep and she has no patience for formalities. When one of the Queen’s Magickers come calling, she’s forced to feast him even though she would rather be with her beloved gryphounds.

King’s Shield: A tale of the World of Ruin by Erik Scott de Bie: Ovelia is the best friend of Lenalin, who is in a political, and unhappy, marriage to Prince Paeter. Ovelia is also a fighter and the daughter of the King’s Shield. When her father is killed defending Lenalin and her infant son, it’s up to Ovelia to protect either the child or her friend.

The Lioness by Anya Penfold: Leodinae, Linnie, is a veteran of undead war and now a gladiator on the Arena. Unfortunately, her family doesn’t approve so she has to keep it a secret, fighting in a helmet that covers her face and with the name Lioness.

The Hero of Ithar by Sarah Hendrix: Twenty years ago, J’Hell saved her country. Now, she lives in a small village happily with her husband. But every year, the village throws her a huge feast, which she hates. However, this year the feast will be a little different

Golden by Todd McCaffrey: Simon is the human mate of a female dragon. Their child is Golden. Unfortunately, Golden would like to be a human girl. Also, Golden and her mother don’t really get along which means that the family has to move often. After one fight, Golden flies away.

Sharp as Griffin’s Claw by Rhonda Parrish: A bard sings the story of Abira and Teyat. Abira is a half-elf swordsmith who, together with her imp Teyat, forges the most beautiful weapons imaginable.

A Night in New Veroshtin by Cassandra Rose Clarke: Salima is a soldier is a century long war. But now, she’s told to become an assassin. She loathes is but has little choice.

I enjoyed all of these stories. “No Better Armor, No Heavier Burden” was my favorite and I found the setting fascinating. Hopefully, the author will write more. Of course, I enjoyed “Attrition” which is set in Tarr’s Amazon world. “Voice of the Trees” was surprising and different from the others. I also really enjoyed “The Bound Man” and “Family Business”.

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