I don’t recommend good books as often as I should. But there’s no time like the present. Between my regular reading and my reading for the annual Nebula Awards, plus the audiobooks I listen to while walking Captain Jack, I’ve read some really good stuff lately.
Let’s start with Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerwoman series. This isn’t new, but if you haven’t read it, you should, and then it will become new and wonderful to you. There are four volumes so far, and she’s working on the fifth.
The first is The Steerswoman. The story is set in an apparent fantasy world in which there are wizards and regular folk and Outskirters… and steerswomen. The steerswomen are itinerant gatherers of information; they seek and record knowledge of all sorts. They are honored and a little bit feared. Sort of like action-adventure librarians. Rowan is one such steerswoman, and her quest is for knowledge about a most unusual kind of stone. She’s smart and savvy and good with a sword when she needs to be. So is her new-found friend Bel, an Outskirter.
As the narrative winds on through Rowan’s adventures, you gradually begin to understand that what seems to be fantasy might be something else altogether.
Terrific writing, characters worthy of your care, a world of familiarity and strangeness: It’s all here, and well worth your time.
I’ve known Rosemary as a colleague and friend for many years, but it took me until this year to read these books—despite my best intentions, and rave reviews from both my wife and my brother. Don’t you make the same mistake.
Here are the first two, in the Kindle store. You can also get them at Nook, iBooks, etc. These are her own reissues; they were originally published by Del Rey.