The Women's War (Women's War, #1)
In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core.When a nobleman’s first duty is to produce a male heir, women are treated like possessions and bargaining chips. But as the aftereffects of a world-altering spell ripple out physically and culturally, women at last have a bargaining chip of their own. And two women in particular find themselves at the crossroads of change.Alys is the widowed mother of two teenage children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully proscribed, but now she discovers a fierce talent not only for politics but also for magic—once deemed solely the domain of men. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, young Ellin finds herself unexpectedly on the throne after the sudden death of her grandfather the king and everyone else who stood ahead of her in the line of succession. Conventional wisdom holds that she will marry quickly, then quietly surrender the throne to her new husband…. Only, Ellin has other ideas.The tensions building in the two kingdoms grow abruptly worse when a caravan of exiled women and their escort of disgraced soldiers stumbles upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—threatens to tear down what is left of the patriarchy. And the men who currently hold power will do anything to fight back.

The Women's War (Women's War, #1) Details

TitleThe Women's War (Women's War, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 5th, 2019
PublisherDel Rey Books
ISBN-139781984817204
Rating
GenreFantasy, Feminism, Fiction, Adult

The Women's War (Women's War, #1) Review

  • Lucia
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc. 2.5 stars. Maybe. This book contains a richly drawn world, believable characters, a complex but neat system of magic and enough political machinations to keep you on your toes the whole way through. What it isn't is fast paced or exciting, and this took me over a month to get through. While I really, really appreciated the concept of this book—that the world changes because women gain the power to control whether or not they become pregnant—t Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc. 2.5 stars. Maybe. This book contains a richly drawn world, believable characters, a complex but neat system of magic and enough political machinations to keep you on your toes the whole way through. What it isn't is fast paced or exciting, and this took me over a month to get through. While I really, really appreciated the concept of this book—that the world changes because women gain the power to control whether or not they become pregnant—the execution left much to be desired. This was not the angry feminist fantasy I wanted. In fact, none of the characters seem all that angry, despite living in a terribly misogynistic world. They aren't itching for change. They accept the things that happen to them and it was...frankly disheartening to see all this women just...not be angry. Like Shelvon! I'm sorry but as an historian of the Middle Ages, I can say that in no time period were women ever that docile. My largest complaint with this book is the utter absence of gay characters. You cannot in the year 2018 write a feminist fantasy and not include queer women. An abbey full of scorned noble women?? THEY WOULD HAVE SEX WITH ONE ANOTHER. Instead, these women all just accept the fact that they will never have enjoyable sex because like, apparently 0 of them are gay. It made no sense. Queer women have always been at the forefront of feminism and to not include them in a feminist story like this one is upsetting, unacceptable, and insulting. Seriously there are 0 gay characters, 0 mention of homosexuality existing in this society, and 0 hint that any of the women who ALL LIVE TOGETHER might have romantic feelings for one another. I really enjoyed aspects of this, don't get me wrong. But it's such an ambitious book that fails in many ways, and I can't overlook the ways it fails when it has to do with the very aims the book sets out for itself. Your feminist fantasy should be queer. It should have queer characters. It should have angry women. And it should have women who seek power for themselves without having to have a man tell them to do it. Seriously our two queens here are put in power because men give them the idea. It's ridiculous. I get that maybe these women have lived with misogyny and no power for so long that they wouldn't think to take power but history has shown us that women always find a way to think outside of misogyny and rebel. The things I legitimately liked here was the ending with Ellin and Tamzin, Ellin's arc in general, Jinnell's character (she's gay you can't convince me she isn't), and the magic itself. I'm so disappointed by the lack of queer women in a story that so desperately needs them (like oh ladies you're tired of men??? good thing there are like...other people you can have sex with and fall in love with. Oh wait...in this world they're apparently aren't). I'm disappointed by the lack of anger. And most importantly I'm disappointed by how this story handles rape. The author chooses to have all these women raped in one brutal scene, the result of which is that they start producing a specific type of killing magic. Great. Except none of these women is given a survivor's arc, their trauma is never explored, and we are actually fed a line about how they experience so much trauma on a daily basis that the rape basically doesn't matter. AS AN HISTORIAN OF RAPE IN THE 14TH CENTURY I CAN TELL YOU WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY THAT THIS IS NOT THE CASE. Rape causes trauma. How can you include rape victims in a feminist fantasy and then not give at least one of them an arc about survival, healing, and dealing with trauma? I was shocked, hurt, and amazed frankly. This book has some great elements. Ultimately, though, it fails in the ways that matter by setting itself up as a feminist fantasy and then...not being very feminist. This was intriguing enough that I might read book 2 and will at least check out the final product. But I can't say I'm very pleased.
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  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    The Women’s War by Jenna Glass is the first book in the epic fantasy Women’s War series. This is another book in which women have been treated as if they are property instead of equals along the lines of things like The Handmaid’s Tale or Vox.In here though we start off meeting Alys who is the daughter of a King but her mother was exiled years before when the King decided he was finished with her so Alys has been disinherited. While visiting her mother in the awful place she had been living sinc The Women’s War by Jenna Glass is the first book in the epic fantasy Women’s War series. This is another book in which women have been treated as if they are property instead of equals along the lines of things like The Handmaid’s Tale or Vox.In here though we start off meeting Alys who is the daughter of a King but her mother was exiled years before when the King decided he was finished with her so Alys has been disinherited. While visiting her mother in the awful place she had been living since her divorce Alys’ mother hints to something big coming for women and later that night she does cast a spell that releases the women of the land.From that point of the spell taking place the book begins to switch the point of view between differing areas of the two kingdoms involved. Alys finds herself looking for answers to help her daughter, Ellis finds herself in line for the throne of her kingdom without a husband and then there’s the place in which Aly’s mother had been with those woman finding are not what they would seem.I’m not sure I would even need to say to those that know me well that over five hundred pages of book I did find some places that really seemed to slow down and be in danger of losing my attention. I did like the idea overall of the world the author tried to create here and to be rather vague this was due to following the different classes and getting a point of view from all angles. Some of the content could be a brutal and might bother some but it wasn’t as bad as one could expect either, if that makes sense? So while I wasn’t completely wowed at the end I did enjoy this one and would give it 3.5 stars.I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
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  • Helen Power
    January 1, 1970
    Synopsis:In this patriarchal, high-fantasy world, women are used by royals as bargaining chips and are valued only for their ability to reproduce.  But the tables have finally turned. A curse has been cast, one that allows all women to choose whether or not they want to bear a child.  Women have finally regained some control over their lives, but the battle has just begun.  Many men will do whatever they can to keep their power.Plot & CharactersTouted as a feminist high-fantasy, The Women’s Synopsis:In this patriarchal, high-fantasy world, women are used by royals as bargaining chips and are valued only for their ability to reproduce.  But the tables have finally turned. A curse has been cast, one that allows all women to choose whether or not they want to bear a child.  Women have finally regained some control over their lives, but the battle has just begun.  Many men will do whatever they can to keep their power.Plot & CharactersTouted as a feminist high-fantasy, The Women’s War does not disappoint in this regard.  This curse that is cast upon all the kingdoms gives women some semblance of power, but of course, men still seek to control them.The novel follows several women over the course of the months following this curse that befell all the kingdoms.  Each of the women is in a different stage of life – whether eighteen or the ripe old age of forty, and each of them experiences different levels of oppression. Each woman is controlled (to varying degrees) by the men in her life. These women’s journeys, while quite different in plot, are also eerily similar.  It’s fascinating to watch their characters develop over the span of this 550-page book.  However, because there are so many different characters living in different kingdoms, they can be hard to keep track of, which does slow down the pace of the book.  The individual chapters are a tad too short, giving you a taste of what is going on with one character before switching over to the next, which can add to the confusion. Although a lot happens in this book, this is not a quick read.While there are several main female characters in this story, I will focus on three: Ellin, Alys, and Jellin.  When her family is tragically killed, Ellin becomes the new Queen of Rhozinolm.  Having a female sovereign has precedent in her land, but the men of the council seek to manipulate her and seize the throne for themselves.  Alys is a forty-year-old widow with a gift for magic, which before now she was unable to use.  She hopes to use magic to make the world a better place for her children.  Jellin is Alys's eighteen-year-old daughter who must use her wits to avoid marriage to an unsavory man.While many men in this novel are reprehensible, Glass includes several men who are quite the opposite. They are masculine and strong while able and willing to allow the women in their lives to be strong as well.  They don’t have the need to weaken others in order to feel strong themselves.  I was a little worried going into this novel that in order to make the women powerful they would have to cut down the men.  This is true for the egotistical, psychopathic, power-hungry men of this world, but fortunately Glass makes the distinction between these men and the allies, and The Women’s War does not develop a dangerous "us vs. them" mentality.WorldbuildingI absolutely adore how magic works in this world. It’s so simple, yet unique in concept. There are elements everywhere, some which are feminine, some masculine, and some neutral.  Each element has a unique purpose.  Glass expertly introduces readers to the nuances of this type of magic without readers having the chance to realize that so much information is being fed to them. There aren’t pages upon pages describing how magic works. Instead, she weaves the information about magic into the plot, revealing just what readers need to know as they need to know it.   Magic is so critical to the way that this world works, and it’s quite cleverly done. By adding a “mote” of the element “rho” to the “cheval” (horse-like invention for transportation), you start it up and can begin your journey.The existence of magic and how the people use it reinforces the book's themes of oppression. Many women have the ability to see and use these magical elements, but, depending on which kingdom they reside in, it varies between being simply frowned upon and being illegal.I recommend this book to anyone looking for a high fantasy epic that blends with dystopian themes of oppression.  Looking for a feminist read that doesn't lecture or feel quite as depressing as The Handmaid's Tale? Then this is the book for you. *Thank you to Del Rey and OLA Super Conference for the ARC for review* This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Instagram | Blog | Website | Twitter My 2019 Reading Challenge
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  • Fafa's Book Corner
    January 1, 1970
    Mini review:DNFTrigger warning: Misogynistic society. Rape. Physical violence. Suicide. Till the point I read. I received this arc via Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.Buddy read with my dear GR friend Kayla! When Kayla had told me about this book I was excited! So I sent in a request for the arc. Unfortunately this wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. It wasn’t terrible but not great either. I didn’t care for the characters. Or the plot. And I felt that I’ve Mini review:DNFTrigger warning: Misogynistic society. Rape. Physical violence. Suicide. Till the point I read. I received this arc via Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.Buddy read with my dear GR friend Kayla! When Kayla had told me about this book I was excited! So I sent in a request for the arc. Unfortunately this wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. It wasn’t terrible but not great either. I didn’t care for the characters. Or the plot. And I felt that I’ve read much better feminist books. There didn’t seem to be any WOC, queer women, and women with disabilities. Considering all this I’m really confused as to why it is being advertised as such. I did try skimming to see whether my assumptions were wrong. I didn’t find anything to prove it wrong. Still recommend. I’m sure others will enjoy it.
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Del Rey). This review is unbiased and honest.2.5 ⭐Trigger warning: misogyny, sexism, rape, violence, racismContent warning: white feminismDNF at 65%URGH! This is such a hit and miss it hurts. It could have been an amazing epic fantasy about women overcoming sexism and misogyny and fightin for equality. Instead it became a chain of how many times the author could include sex in those women's lives.Because that's what this book is all about: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Del Rey). This review is unbiased and honest.2.5 ⭐Trigger warning: misogyny, sexism, rape, violence, racismContent warning: white feminismDNF at 65%URGH! This is such a hit and miss it hurts. It could have been an amazing epic fantasy about women overcoming sexism and misogyny and fightin for equality. Instead it became a chain of how many times the author could include sex in those women's lives.Because that's what this book is all about: sex. It starts with how easily men can coerce women into having sex with or marrying them, and it probably ends with... well just the same, since the only effects of that spell are that women cannot procreate unless they really want to and that they produce a new element when they are raped. That's it, really. Or at least that's the jist of the half I read. If anything more interesting happens afterwards, I am unaware.The main problematic point (apart from the constant need to include non-graphic sexual content at every turn) of this novel is that it has white feminism written all over it. Let me get this clear: if, in 2019, your feminism does not include diversity of any kind (queer, disabled, body positive, different ethnicities, etc.) it is NOT feminism! It's serving your white, cisstraight interest with no regard to those who have itworse than you. Unfortunately, that's the kind of fake feminism this book falls under. Oh, there is some diversity. Of course, that diversity is accompanied by racism, even from the characters we are supposed to like, as readers, in the form of microaggressions. It is said by Delnamal and thought more than once by Alysoon that people from Nandel are too pale, that it's not normal. I don't know if the author tried to weave some sort of white racism into her story, as a way to be "woke"...Mostly, her effort lies in a sexual revolution for the women. Nowhere in the first half I read does this spell make them fight against their assumed destiny of "baby factory" or the political alliances they are forced into. It's all about how they can sleep with whomever they want without consequences. And that only applies to noble women, apprently. There isn't a single peasant among the main characters. Nor is there any queer character for that matter. Because apparently queerness isn't important in feminism........ or at least in that author's feminism. She made an entire institution filled with "unwanted" women who have to sell themselves for sex to the highest bidder, yet none of them ever thought of, you know, trying it with each other?! Hundreds of women alone together most of the time and none of them has sexual desire for her pairs? PUH-LEASE!(That of course, is not including the abigails who could be asexual.... there could have been a whole arc about them dealing with the constant threat of rape)And among all those women who have to prostitute themselves, who for the most part are raped on numerous occasions, none of them ever seem to deal with PTSD......... I guess the author didn't want to trouble herself with research on the topic.It's huge hit and miss, and it's the only thing it is. If you want a fantasy only about women's sexual revolution, go for it. If you want a truily feminist epic fantasy, look somewhere else.
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  • Rike @ RikeRandom
    January 1, 1970
    cn: death (by suicide, beheading, mercy killing, magic, (off-page) torture, …), sexual assault (rape, forced prostitution, …), miscarriages, violence against childrenTHIS IS NOT A FEMINIST BOOK!I really wanted to like this book because the premise was awesome. Then I started reading it and within the first 10 % several characters committed suicide / were pressured into killing themselvs, countless women were raped and I don't know what else. I originally decided to just dnf the novel but then re cn: death (by suicide, beheading, mercy killing, magic, (off-page) torture, …), sexual assault (rape, forced prostitution, …), miscarriages, violence against childrenTHIS IS NOT A FEMINIST BOOK!I really wanted to like this book because the premise was awesome. Then I started reading it and within the first 10 % several characters committed suicide / were pressured into killing themselvs, countless women were raped and I don't know what else. I originally decided to just dnf the novel but then read on anyways. It got simultaneously better and worse.I liked a few things about the book. It's world, some of the characters, the writing, some of the ideas behind it and I did get drawn into the story after a while. But I also hated so much of it (spoiler ahead and also serious tw regarding all the stuff listed above):- It is NOT queer inclusive. At all. In fact the whole thing is based on an absolutely binary concept of gender. There is pretty much only either strictly male or strictly female. And there's not a single queer character in sight. No trans or enby characters but also no sign of anybody being non-hetero.- There's also no disabled people in this, the only fat character is ridiculously evil and … I can't say that I remember any character description that, especially in combination with the skin colour of the hand on the cover, implied that anybody in this book was not white. Apart from those who were even whiter, of course (there's racism against the whiter guys?). Oh, it's also classicist (is that the right word?) and there's not a single peasant in sight, apart from some lady's maids who don't actually get a voice in this.- I absolutely hated that it is strongly implied that only women who explicitly said 'no' to and/or struggled against their rapists got 'rape-magic'. Got repeatedly raped by your abusive husband but never managed to do more than silently cry into your pillows? Well, too bad.- Then again, rape apparently also doesn't really lead to trauma in this world, so … yeah … All the women forced into prostitution are pretty much fine or at least aren't shown to experience any mayor issues after being freed. They're just mostly okay?! - Somehow women and especially women who do magic (who are usually also prostitutes) are really not well regarded in any of the countries in this world and yet in some super surprising twist of fate half the guys aren't really that shocked about them doing magic or turn out to be amazing allies?!- I hated the (on page) violence. Most of it felt so clumsy, heavy handed and often unnecessary. Yes, I get it, women are in a horrible position in this world and all guys (apart from the good ones, of course) are superduper absolutely evil. Still, I don't need all those rape scenes and other stuff.- Parts of the story seemed weirdly disconnected from the rest and there where plotlines that didn't seem to have any actual relevance to anything. It just gives this novel this feeling of "Hey, I'm just an introduction for a coming series and in the sequels it will totally make sense, that these characters were introduced!"- This is mostly about sex. Who can have it, who can't and, oh, how cool, now women can have sex with whoever they want too! Sure, this is meant to convey how women suddenly have all the power, because they can't have children unless they want to, but it just isn't done in a way that works and only seems to result in trying to see how many rape and fade-to-black sex scenes can be put into this.
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  • Lesa Divine
    January 1, 1970
    5 🌟I actually enjoyed. Seen a lot of reviews with people DNF this it had me worried but I decided to give it a try.Seen all the trigger warnings but as i kept reading I noticed those trigger warnings are part of the plot that these women must fight for or to upcome and fight in the women's war. Characters growth, the magic system, very vivid. I enjoyed the suspense of what to come next with these women and how to get out of the crap that held women back. The politics was on Q. Seeing how a queen 5 🌟I actually enjoyed. Seen a lot of reviews with people DNF this it had me worried but I decided to give it a try.Seen all the trigger warnings but as i kept reading I noticed those trigger warnings are part of the plot that these women must fight for or to upcome and fight in the women's war. Characters growth, the magic system, very vivid. I enjoyed the suspense of what to come next with these women and how to get out of the crap that held women back. The politics was on Q. Seeing how a queen that isn't to be on the throne fight to been noticed as a queen not a stand in until a king comes.To have a half brother want all the power and damn his half siblings for just being born. SMDH.I wonder will there be a book 2. How that ended I hope so.
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  • Sami
    January 1, 1970
    The Women's War is an incredible, tour-de-force answer to Naomi Alderman's book, The Power. In this epic fantasy, women seize control of the magic of the land, creating a world where women chose if they become pregnant and consequences befall any man who would fight a woman's will. Glass' heroines are women of every age, who each offer a unique perspective on their sudden gain in power. As these women begin to seize control over the dominion of men, a larger rebellion simmers. This book both fil The Women's War is an incredible, tour-de-force answer to Naomi Alderman's book, The Power. In this epic fantasy, women seize control of the magic of the land, creating a world where women chose if they become pregnant and consequences befall any man who would fight a woman's will. Glass' heroines are women of every age, who each offer a unique perspective on their sudden gain in power. As these women begin to seize control over the dominion of men, a larger rebellion simmers. This book both filled the sore spot in my heart from recent politics and stoked my rage at how women have been treated in past and present. One of the most necessary books of 2019.
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  • Sahitya
    January 1, 1970
    When I first read the premise of this book, I was blown away and I was so sure I was gonna fall in love with it. And when I actually got approved for the ARC, my joy had no bounds. However, I’m quite unsure about how the experience turned out to be. So, let me share my thoughts. I definitely went into this book expecting a very fiery feminist fantasy world where the women are finally ready to take down the patriarchy, but I got was a very understated version of it - which is not necessarily a ba When I first read the premise of this book, I was blown away and I was so sure I was gonna fall in love with it. And when I actually got approved for the ARC, my joy had no bounds. However, I’m quite unsure about how the experience turned out to be. So, let me share my thoughts. I definitely went into this book expecting a very fiery feminist fantasy world where the women are finally ready to take down the patriarchy, but I got was a very understated version of it - which is not necessarily a bad thing. This is a highly misogynistic world where women have very few rights and there are levels of apathy towards women based on the kingdom where they live. So, when women finally gain the power of conception/fertility due to a devastating spell, it’s not a dramatic shift of power. The men are nowhere near ready to give up everything they’ve grown accustomed to and most of the women still need to outgrow everything that they’ve been taught since their birth. What we see happening is a group of women who slowly realize the other magical powers they can access now, and how to navigate this new world. This is a very slow process and they rely a lot on other men in their lives to get what they want. While it was wonderful to see a couple of men in this sexist world truly support the women in their quest for power, I think it would have been more effective as a story if the women were more independent thinking - they certainly are very capable. The pacing is also consistently slow throughout, there is more of the day to day lives of the characters and lots of political intrigue, but hardly any action at all. There is also no diversity at all in the book (or the author deliberately leaves the descriptions very vague) and despite many women going through deep trauma due to rape and assault, we never get to explore how they are affected or their stories of survival. While all the characters were quite good, Ellin is the one I felt most fascinated by and I think she has some of the best and important scenes in the book. Jinnel is also such a thoughtful and selfless young woman and I would have liked to see so much more of her. While this book was not what I really expected, it has a well realized world and magic system that I really liked. I would still recommend this book if you don’t mind a slow paced book with more intrigue and no action and which felt more like a setup for the sequel. I enjoyed it enough that I might be interested to know what happens next.
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  • Maddie
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 1/3 of the way in. Saw that this "feminist fantasy" has no rep for queer women and the treatment of sex workers was absolutely abysmal. The male characters are all considered terrible and the female characters are not much better or smarter. Do not have the patience for a pretentious ass fantasy at the moment. Still marking it as read though.
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  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 4%Just not feeling this. I think it's definitely one of those "it's not you, it's me," books.
  • Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
    January 1, 1970
    I finished this SO fast compared to my recent reading pace, which should tell you how much I enjoyed it. It's political, it's dark, and it really draws you in.The heroes face incredible odds, but there's also a really incredible sense that their world changing around them so anything could happen. I love that feeling of possibility, and of course the possibilities for revenge that permeate the story.The magic system is interesting. It's a little scientific-sounding, but very simplified. That wor I finished this SO fast compared to my recent reading pace, which should tell you how much I enjoyed it. It's political, it's dark, and it really draws you in.The heroes face incredible odds, but there's also a really incredible sense that their world changing around them so anything could happen. I love that feeling of possibility, and of course the possibilities for revenge that permeate the story.The magic system is interesting. It's a little scientific-sounding, but very simplified. That works well for making the magic parts of the book easy to follow, although in the sequel I'd love to see more about what makes someone a good magic user besides how many elements they can see. What's really great is that the magic system's divisions into masculine, feminine, and neutral elements play into the worldbuilding. It shows that patriarchal standards have been applied everywhere, the same way that different professions are valued or undervalued depending on if they're associated with men or women.There was more romance than I was expecting, though in retrospect it makes sense and provides some of the hope in the book: there's a lot of terrible men, the book says, but also plenty decent men you can actually have a mutually-fulfilling and respectful relationship with. I did think that one romance subplot was resolved a little too easily, in that it could have caused more emotional stakes if it hadn't been tied off semi-neatly and instead the character been forced to confront if it was the best choice.In some ways, this reads to me like a grownup The Will of the Empress, or a toned-down The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Warnings for, uh, a lot. Violence, death, rape and misogyny, mostly. Some scenes are truly horrible, but they're well-written. The villains are (terrible and) human. The heroes have to make the hardest choices.My biggest issue is probably that for a book so concerned with women and feminism, there is... literally no intersectionality. No lesbian or bisexual characters, even though you'd think a book so focused on women's desires, and whether or not they desire the men they're supposed to, would be ripe for wlw characters. No trans characters, even though in such a patriarchal world a trans woman character would arguably have the most intense storyline. No discussion of race or racism — while character descriptions are general enough that any or all of them could be women of color, there is nothing about characters' race or ethnicity in this world.I enjoyed it very much while reading, but when you step back and look at it, you see there's several dimensions missing because the story only acknowledges straight, cis, racially ambiguous characters. It makes what was such a vibrant reading experience seem lacking in depth and scope.
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  • Beth Cato
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley.The description defined this a "high fantasy feminist epic," and that is dead-on. This is a secondary world setting where women are marginalized, abused, and maligned, and they finally start to fight back. That also means this is a difficult read at times, as it doesn't shy away from incidents of rape and abuse. That said, this IS a book from a mostly feminist perspective, and it doesn't let those horrors become the defining moment for those I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley.The description defined this a "high fantasy feminist epic," and that is dead-on. This is a secondary world setting where women are marginalized, abused, and maligned, and they finally start to fight back. That also means this is a difficult read at times, as it doesn't shy away from incidents of rape and abuse. That said, this IS a book from a mostly feminist perspective, and it doesn't let those horrors become the defining moment for those characters.The book follows a largely female cast in various parts of "the Wells." This is a world where people can focus on their Mind's Eye and see elemental orbs that can then be combined to different magical effects. I found this very easy to picture because it seemed video game-like to me, and I loved that. Women, of course, are almost entirely forbidden from tapping this power. The very sight of a women using magic, her eyes going to all-white, is regarded as obscene. The only place where women are permitted to use limited magic is if they are exiled to abbeys--rather like government-run bordellos, where unclean women are forced to give out sexual favors or otherwise peddle wares in lowly ways.A matrimonial line decided, in ages past, to break the very way magic functions in the world in order to give women a way to fight back. They essentially bred themselves to cultivate this ability. They carry this out near the beginning of the book, to immediate physical and magical results. I am keeping the particulars vague to avoid spoilers, but I will say this: the consequences are myriad and truly make you think about women and the power they carry over their own bodies. I enjoyed seeing this analyzed through the lens of magic.A few criticisms. I was surprised that there wasn't more queer representation, especially within the confines of abbeys. I also wish the villain had more nuance, because yeesh, is he a nasty villain. He's almost too easy to hate. I felt like bathing in bleach after scenes in his perspective.This is the first book in a series and it ends on something of a cliffhanger. The one peril of getting an early reviewer edition of the book is that I have an even longer wait until I find out what happens next!
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  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review. What would happen in a world where women are marginalized and abused, if they found a way to get the upper hand over the men that dominated them? The book begins with an earth shattering event that had me turning pages, and it didn’t let up. This book had great characters: strong women and good, supportive men living through extremely difficult situations. There are some very frightening villains as well. Add to that lo I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review. What would happen in a world where women are marginalized and abused, if they found a way to get the upper hand over the men that dominated them? The book begins with an earth shattering event that had me turning pages, and it didn’t let up. This book had great characters: strong women and good, supportive men living through extremely difficult situations. There are some very frightening villains as well. Add to that lots of royal scheming, court politics, and a large dose of magic, and you have a real epic fantasy (without too much info dumping).If you like strong female characters, magic, and palace intrigue, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.I can’t wait for the next installment!
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  • Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
    January 1, 1970
    I READ THIS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO. Haha. Alright. I dunno where to start. Oh yeah. I hate books with moral lessons and/or agenda's and this one has an AGENDA. It's a feminist agenda and I'm a feminist woman, but I HATE AGENDA'S IN BOOK. Don't shove that shit down my throat.It made the characters unbelievable. They were all thinking "oh, I can't do this because men forbid it". Bish, if you actually lived in a world like that, you wouldn't know there was any other way to live. You wouldn't be think I READ THIS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO. Haha. Alright. I dunno where to start. Oh yeah. I hate books with moral lessons and/or agenda's and this one has an AGENDA. It's a feminist agenda and I'm a feminist woman, but I HATE AGENDA'S IN BOOK. Don't shove that shit down my throat.It made the characters unbelievable. They were all thinking "oh, I can't do this because men forbid it". Bish, if you actually lived in a world like that, you wouldn't know there was any other way to live. You wouldn't be thinking "Oh, but for men, I'd surely have more freedoms!" No. That would be the way you were raised. It would be your culture. Fun fact, female genital mutilations are woman on woman violence. There isn't a man holding a gun to them. You can argue that it's needed for marriage prospects, sure, but it's also couched in a lot of cultural ideas. A woman will be a slut if she doesn't do it. She's shameful, etc. There's the whole culture behind it. You don't get that with this book. It's all men-men-men. And suffrage movements sprang up because the way women were living had changed. They were in America where they had to take on more male roles and other nations were going through the Industrial Revolution, which necessitated women taking more jobs. They learned there were other options and it grew from there. This happened every time they were allowed more freedoms like during the WWs. They suddenly had to fill male jobs, found they could do it, found they liked to do it, and didn't want to stop doing them when the men returned. There's none of that in this book.The magic system was okay but this whole agenda thing the author had going was all like "the feminine aspect was considered useless!" WUT? The feminine aspect accounted for fertility spells, growing better crops, magical viagra, etc. Like, would the world be all like "welp, it's cool that Viagra was disappeared because that was useless and worthless" or "welp, who needs fertilizers? haha! not the crops!" Like, this is what I hate about agenda's. They supersede logic. They want to push they're message onto the story and be damned if it's even remotely logical. Like, yeah, spells that go boom are great but your army isn't going to go far without food and a shit ton of men over 40 will always be interested in Viagra.That the evil person was fat bothered me. This normally wouldn't bother me but I think the contrast with the rest of the cast is what did it for me. The others are all white, noble beauties. The men in their lives are all handsome. The one clearly marked to be evil is fat. There's no other fat person in the book. This book doesn't have diversity at all. It would be like if he was black and everyone else was white.Another thing that annoyed me was that they'd all get together and look grimly around and say, something to the effect, that "this was treason" or "this would get them in a lot of trouble." This and the whole "men won't let me do this" drove me CRAZY.I hated the characters. Ellin was meh. Stupid but whatever. Alice was a 5 year old. She drove me CRAZY. She wasn't mature. She wasn't smart. All the shit her children had gone through was her fault. All she'd've had to say to her guard was "whisk the kids away if the King gets ill." She knew her brother had it out for her but she just flounced out without a thought to them. She was just so frustrating!But, more than all this, I think the manner this story was told was all wrong. It's a very, very short period of time (6 months) so we see NO effects of this spell. We see no lower class reactions. We see no repercussions (save one woman.) It's like the spell went off and nothing. I really hate to say it, but this story should've been a series of short stories, with each successive up jumping forward in time. I generally hate those sorts but then we'd get a good idea of the struggle through many PoVs (not just shut away, stuffy, rich beautiful white women... and a fat evil king.)
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.CW: rape, sexual assault, violenceWho could turn down the opportunity to read a book labeled as "feminist fantasy"? Overall, I liked this book, but unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations. My major issue w/ this book is that I felt like the events, actions, characters, plots, relationships, etc were not allowed to take root. This was especially true w/ the r I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.CW: rape, sexual assault, violenceWho could turn down the opportunity to read a book labeled as "feminist fantasy"? Overall, I liked this book, but unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations. My major issue w/ this book is that I felt like the events, actions, characters, plots, relationships, etc were not allowed to take root. This was especially true w/ the romantic relationships. By this statement you would think that this book would have been too fast paced. Wrong! After 25% I felt like the plot slowed to a snails pace. Once I hit the 80% mark, I almost only read the dialogue and by doing so my interest in this novel went up exponentially.Reasons why I enjoyed this novel:-possible hate to love trope-women being liberated from their oppressive societies and expectations (politically, sexually, etc)-women POV of different age ranges (18-40+)-discussion of different types of women oppression in different cultures within this fantasy world.-the most oppressive culture was described as having fair or pale skin with blonde hair which was quite refreshing; typically these cultures are always depicted by POC cultures or parallel w/ our Western view of Middle Eastern cultures.Reasons why I didn't enjoy this novel:-the feminism/misogyny was too heavy handed for my liking. Things were typically either overtly feminine or overtly masculine. -character's behaviors were inconsistent. For example, a character that is shown being hot-tempered, misogynistic, abusive, and self-serving "feels bad" for taking some relatives captive. Only later to (view spoiler)[ behead one of them out of spite for their mother that he hates (hide spoiler)]-world building was inconsistent as well: you are constantly reminded that men are disgusted w/ women using magic or holding any type of power especially politically. However, almost every male character that was introduced to us had no issues w/ supporting their female counterparts. I'm not saying that every male character had to hate women and wouldn't have progressive views in this society, but the fact that most of the characters had no issue whatsoever with the women taking power felt manufactured and convenient,-fade to black sex scenes; I am not asking for full blown erotica, but this is an adult novel so please don't leave me hanging!
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  • Anne - Books of My Heart
    January 1, 1970
    This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.  4.5 hearts I really loved this!  It has typical fantasy world where women have almost no choices. Their primary worth is to bear an heir for men in the patriarchal society. Men control the magic. Men can also choose to send women to a whorehouse for the "unwanted."  This includes wives who can't have children, or if they want s This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.  4.5 hearts I really loved this!  It has typical fantasy world where women have almost no choices. Their primary worth is to bear an heir for men in the patriarchal society. Men control the magic. Men can also choose to send women to a whorehouse for the "unwanted."  This includes wives who can't have children, or if they want someone else, or even daughters.  There the unwanted are bought for sex or toil in creating spells, where the earnings go to the kingdom.The head of this unwanted whorehouse is the "divorced" first wife of a king. She is from a powerful magic bloodline and a seer. She is able to see more magic, both male and female than most everyone.  She creates a spell to give women power over their own fertility.  This has many consequences; none make men very happy. She leaves a notebook for her daughter Alys to learn more of women's magic.The primary characters of this story are women. Alys, the disinherited daughter of the king, her daughter, Janelle,  and Ellin, grand-daughter of another king.  The women are strong, smart and hard -working.  They do the best they can with the hand they are dealt in life.The men are less well-developed as characters. There are a few good ones who get more depth and figure into the story more.  The bad ones impact the story but their characters are a bit flat with being more plain black, than showing many shades of gray.  They tend to be greedy, believe they should have whatever they want, fail to worry about consequences to others, and don't think they should have to work for anything either.The Women's War is well-paced, a riveting story, and likely to be a favorite of mine this year. There are the strong women, well-developed plot lines, and action I most desire in a book.  I really can't wait to see where it goes in the next book, because the war is just begun.  Narration: Robin Miles is new to me, but I truly enjoyed her narration.  The male and female voices were comfortable in tones.  I was able to listen at my usual 1.5x speed.Listen to a clip: ://soundcloud.com/penguin-audio/the-wome... 
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  • Riley
    January 1, 1970
    The Women’s War is one hell of a story. Based on a society where women are considered second-class citizens, if they are lucky, this is the story of revolution led by two extraordinary women.Alysoon Rai-Brynna is a widowed mother of two and daughter of a king. When her father divorced her mother in favor of a more politically advantageous marriage, Alys and her brother were declared illegitimate. And her mother became an Unwanted, sentenced to life at the Abbey.Princess Ellinsoltah of Rhozinolm The Women’s War is one hell of a story. Based on a society where women are considered second-class citizens, if they are lucky, this is the story of revolution led by two extraordinary women.Alysoon Rai-Brynna is a widowed mother of two and daughter of a king. When her father divorced her mother in favor of a more politically advantageous marriage, Alys and her brother were declared illegitimate. And her mother became an Unwanted, sentenced to life at the Abbey.Princess Ellinsoltah of Rhozinolm will become queen when the two most likely male candidates to the throne would most like cause a war. The plan: after her year of mourning, Ellin will take a husband who will then become king. Or so her council thinks.These two women will become the pivotal characters who react and overcome so many obstacles thrown at them in the aftermath of the world-altering spell.The story is complex and so many characters lives are intertwined it is impossible to represent all of that here in a review. So I will pick and choose a few characters…Crown Prince Delnamel (half-brother to Alys and Tynthanal) is the villain to boo at every time he turns up. Occasionally, he seems to have a teeny tiny bit of heart, but don’t let that fool you. There is one horrible scene where Delnamel arrests three senior abigails and then allows his men to rape the women of the Abbey. My heart ached at the scene, but it a critical event that changes the raped women in such a way that those men will have cause to regret.Tynthanal, brother of Alys and lieutenant commander at the Citadel, escorts the women of the Abbey to the wasteland to their new home. It is because of him that the women discover the new Well of magical elements. Thus Women’s Well was founded. Tynthanal is one of the few male feminists in the book.Semsulin, is the lord chancellor and head of the royal council of Rhozinolm. He is the man who talked Ellin into taking the crown. His motives are not entirely clear, though as the book goes on, he seems to support Ellin more and more. I think he only wants what is best for the kingdom and that is a difficult thing to determine.In a society where only men are allowed to use magic, it will come as quite a shock when those men learn that women are not only able to use magic in many ways, but they are also quite good at. If they don’t make room for women as equals, they will loose. Take as much of that as you wish as a commentary on any aspect of women’s history in our own world.The cover by Elizabeth A.D. Eno, is beautiful and inciteful and truly represents the story. Ms. Eno must have read the book before she crafted her cover.The Women’s War is 560 pages long according to the published page counts. You would think 560 would be enough to tell a story. It isn’t. Be prepared for a huge cliffhanger. The only characters whose stories are resolved are the ones that died. The description on NetGalley gave no indication that this was the first book of a series. The Women’s War gets 4 stars from me, losing one star due to the gigantic cliffhanger. (I may have thrown a fit when I finished the book. I don’t remember. It is all kind of fuzzy.) But if I was the type of reader who didn’t mind cliffhangers, I would give it all 5 stars.Heartbreaking, hopeful, magical and emotional. The Women’s War truly is an amazing story.Here is a quote from the book. It was said by Alys’s mother, right before the world upended:Something is going to happen tonight. Something … momentous. Something that will change the world in ways I can’t entirely foresee.Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Anneke
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: The Women’s WarAuthor: Jenna GlassPublisher: Random House/Del ReyPublication Date: March 5, 2019Review Date: March 3, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This is a very long book, 545 pages. It is a combination of genres. It is fantasy, with a very different and interesting take of how magic and spells are created. It is also about a world that is very patriarchal and women-hating. There are several plot lines running at the same t Book Review: The Women’s WarAuthor: Jenna GlassPublisher: Random House/Del ReyPublication Date: March 5, 2019Review Date: March 3, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This is a very long book, 545 pages. It is a combination of genres. It is fantasy, with a very different and interesting take of how magic and spells are created. It is also about a world that is very patriarchal and women-hating. There are several plot lines running at the same time, with multiple protagonists and stories that merge in and out with one another. This is a fantastic book, if you like fantasy and books about magic. The intensity of the animosity between men and women is a bit much to read. Without spoiling too much of the plot, one of the story lines is how some women used their magic and created some life-altering spells, aimed at reducing men’s power.The characters are very well done, especially as it’s such a long book, and they have enough time to develop. The plot is masterful, given how man protagonist and story lines are running, and converging.The language is not exceptionally beautiful, but I wouldn’t expect it to be with this kind of story.I highly recommend this book, if you have the time to invest in reading it. It is a grand adventure in a fascinating world. 5 Stars! Thank you to Random House for giving me an early book at this wonderful book.This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon.#netgalley #thewomenswar #jennaglass #randomhouse
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  • MundiNova
    January 1, 1970
    I give up. I can't do it.Made it 7% into The Women's War before calling it quits. It was the 10th mention of how tidal waves work in chapter three that did it for me. Hopefully an editor gets to this before it's officially published, someone who can remove the repetitive information and the repetitive word usage. There's tons of information dumps in the first three chapters too, not much is 'shown' rather than 'told'. It's too distracting and prevents me from getting into the story. I'd love to I give up. I can't do it.Made it 7% into The Women's War before calling it quits. It was the 10th mention of how tidal waves work in chapter three that did it for me. Hopefully an editor gets to this before it's officially published, someone who can remove the repetitive information and the repetitive word usage. There's tons of information dumps in the first three chapters too, not much is 'shown' rather than 'told'. It's too distracting and prevents me from getting into the story. I'd love to hear from others if this was improved in the final published version.Also, writing what appears to be an emotional death scene in chapter two doesn't help. I don't know these characters and haven't formed any emotional bonds to them, so their deaths don't mean anything to me. The language is something more often found in young adult books, which didn't mesh with an adult protagonist with teenage children. The magic system appears interesting and will appeal to many fantasy lovers. This feels like a fantasy, alternative universe version of The Handmaid's Tale fan-fiction. I really wanted to like this. The description sounds like my jam .... but the execution feels like I'm being pandered to, which pisses me off. There's a market for this book, but unfortunately I'm not it.I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Story: ? starsCharacter Development: 2 starsWriting/Prose: 1 star
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  • Geonn Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very three star book, and that's in no way a bad thing. It's an amazingly detailed epic with a feminist bent. It's heavy on political maneuvering on all sides. It doesn't pull its punches in any way. The magic, the worldbuilding, the characters, are all extremely well drawn. It's a dense book, and a smart book, and it's not something that can just be torn through. I enjoyed it. Some people will like it a lot more than I did, some will hate it, but I would be very surprised if anyone cl This is a very three star book, and that's in no way a bad thing. It's an amazingly detailed epic with a feminist bent. It's heavy on political maneuvering on all sides. It doesn't pull its punches in any way. The magic, the worldbuilding, the characters, are all extremely well drawn. It's a dense book, and a smart book, and it's not something that can just be torn through. I enjoyed it. Some people will like it a lot more than I did, some will hate it, but I would be very surprised if anyone claimed it was poorly written, boring, or a misfire. Jenna Glass has written a masterpiece for both the feminist and fantasy genres, and it will no doubt find an audience who has been desperate for it.I received an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
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  • Nichole
    January 1, 1970
    The Women's War is set in a time when a woman's only importance is to produce an heir. Men are the magic users. Men have all the power.Three women decide to change that. Even if means their deaths.I loved this book. I went back and forth between 4 and 5 stars, but even if I'm in the minority, I felt it deserved the 5. A fantasy where the women rise up and take a stand? I'm in! I love political intrigue in fantasy, and this book has plenty. I thought the magic system was unique and interesting. A The Women's War is set in a time when a woman's only importance is to produce an heir. Men are the magic users. Men have all the power.Three women decide to change that. Even if means their deaths.I loved this book. I went back and forth between 4 and 5 stars, but even if I'm in the minority, I felt it deserved the 5. A fantasy where the women rise up and take a stand? I'm in! I love political intrigue in fantasy, and this book has plenty. I thought the magic system was unique and interesting. And I loved the characters! Quite a few trigger warnings, but it makes their fight even more important.I am excited to read more in this series.I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    No time for a "feminist" book that doesn't include queer women.
  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    Signed paper-ARC - free loot from ECCC.
  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    The Women's War is a complex fantasy story. It's also a long story. Be prepared to read for days. Definitely a feminist leaning story. In a world where women are treated like trash and sold or sent away by men, a few strong willed women cast spells to change that. What will happen with women in charge of very important things? The beginning of the story is slow and just bogs down in too much information. It does pick up, but the entire story is complicated. The magic and the politics are a lot t The Women's War is a complex fantasy story. It's also a long story. Be prepared to read for days. Definitely a feminist leaning story. In a world where women are treated like trash and sold or sent away by men, a few strong willed women cast spells to change that. What will happen with women in charge of very important things? The beginning of the story is slow and just bogs down in too much information. It does pick up, but the entire story is complicated. The magic and the politics are a lot to absorb. The ending is disappointing because now there must be a sequel you must read. The characters are strong intelligent and powerful. The world building is interesting. It's not a bad story, but I don't think I would read it again. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Great fantasy novel based on feminism. The magic system, while I can’t picture exactly what it would look like, is still explained intricately in is mechanics. The politics of the various principalities is well thought out and intriguing. The characters are multifaceted, and in fact I feel like there is still a lot to be learned about most of them. The only slight issues I have with this novel is that 1) it was slow going as 80 percent of it was exposition (though this is understandable because Great fantasy novel based on feminism. The magic system, while I can’t picture exactly what it would look like, is still explained intricately in is mechanics. The politics of the various principalities is well thought out and intriguing. The characters are multifaceted, and in fact I feel like there is still a lot to be learned about most of them. The only slight issues I have with this novel is that 1) it was slow going as 80 percent of it was exposition (though this is understandable because the politics, magic and other plot points needed to be properly set up) and 2) I’m not sure how diverse the feminism is though this might be due to my reading of the novel and not remembering if the characters are actually diverse. Can’t wait for the following books in this series!
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    'In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core.'THIS SOUNDS SO FUCKING GOOD, I'M SHAKING (if only the cover was a little illustrated, though)
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  • Tasha Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    This has been billed as something of an epic-fantasy answer to Naomi Alderman's The Power, set in a deeply misogynistic collection of kingdoms where, depending on the country, women are treated as anything between third-class citizens and barely sentient breeding devices. (For instance, even in one of the more lenient countries, families who don't want their daughters, or men who don't want their wives, can repudiate them, at which point they're forced to go to "the Abbey" and sell their sexual This has been billed as something of an epic-fantasy answer to Naomi Alderman's The Power, set in a deeply misogynistic collection of kingdoms where, depending on the country, women are treated as anything between third-class citizens and barely sentient breeding devices. (For instance, even in one of the more lenient countries, families who don't want their daughters, or men who don't want their wives, can repudiate them, at which point they're forced to go to "the Abbey" and sell their sexual services to anyone who wants them, while giving all the proceeds to the throne.) Then three women give up their lives to enact a giant spell that changes the nature of the world: suddenly, women can't be coerced into bearing children, and will only conceive if they truly want to. This is meant to change the world and give women new power, but initially, it only works like The Pill did: suddenly women are having more casual sex, since they aren't risking pregnancy. What really shifts the balance of power is a whole bunch of apparent additional side effects involving the author's magic system, side effects that keep getting revealed nearly to the end of the novel. For me, that was fairly unsatisfying for a while, because I was pretty curious how the childbirth change alone could shift society in time to save the many suffering primary characters in the novel, who are all facing problems ranging from forced marriage to awful men, to execution for crimes they didn't commit. And instead, the rules of magic and engagement keep changing. This book moves very quickly, with characters rapidly shifting in ways that sometimes seem more like inconsistencies than development. And on top of that, the characters are generally pretty shallow types — vicious tyrant, devoted mom, young queen, precocious teen — who mostly fall into a few distinct black-and-white baskets: horrible abusers or noble, desperate strivers. But all that said, once I settled down and got into the book not being what I expected, and got to the parts of the book that actually acclimate readers to the way the world works, I found this a pretty compelling read. The magic system is unlike anything I've read before, which is interesting all on its own, and there are a lot of interesting aspects of that magic system in terms of how the specific things people can build and do with it shape society, like what it means to be able to easily build tireless horse-replacements, or infallible magical messenger-carriers. And it's interesting to see how this world's inherent sexism plays out in radically different ways in different countries, rather than being a monoculture. I'm kind of a sucker for stories about injustice and the fight against it (see also: my GRRM fandom), so even when it happens kind of rapidly and shallowly, I'm generally down for a story about a radical feminist movement against a cruel and selfish ruler.That said, man is there a lot of rape and torture and systemic abuse of women in this book. The rape is glossed over (and as others have noticed, the survivor narratives mostly consist of "but they were used to this kind of thing and they moved on") and the torture happens offscreen, without pages devoted to it, but it can still be a little wearying for the empathetic.
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  • Ymar Solamo
    January 1, 1970
    This is an intriguing start to a new fantasy series. Now I tend to avoid epic/high fantasy; they just invite comparisons to Tolkien. And usually I end up wondering why I shouldn't just reread the Lord of the Rings, but occasionally a new series distinguishes itself. Martin clearly built the Song of Ice and Fire from Tolkien's blueprints but he brought a stark realism to the table that Tolkien failed to address. Glass does much the same attempting high fantasy with a particular feminist perspecti This is an intriguing start to a new fantasy series. Now I tend to avoid epic/high fantasy; they just invite comparisons to Tolkien. And usually I end up wondering why I shouldn't just reread the Lord of the Rings, but occasionally a new series distinguishes itself. Martin clearly built the Song of Ice and Fire from Tolkien's blueprints but he brought a stark realism to the table that Tolkien failed to address. Glass does much the same attempting high fantasy with a particular feminist perspective.At first a static-perhaps even a generic-fantasy setting is presented. Then a single event shatters that stasis and leaves everyone in a different world altogether. Though most are oblivious and continue on as though nothing has changed Glass protagonists are forced to navigate this new world as best they can.I love how the new women's magic is analogous to the subtle power of educating girls and women. In our world an education gives women power over their reproductive choices, while in Glass' world magic while a necessary ingredient some learning is also required. It just leaves me feeling validated. You can fight a culture war to deprive women of their power, but in any world educating women preserves their power despite everything.Glass' setting feels unreliable. Described through her characters perceptions and expectations is one world, but as the story develops I'm left wondering about Nandel. Through the majority of the story it is a harsh place that appears to take particular delight in the subservience of their women. Prince Waldmir-until genuinely presented before us-is a monster that devours young women, but in the narrative itself I'm left feeling a grudging sympathy for him. He like everyone else is bound by his station and duty. I'm left wondering what other assumptions are faulty.But that will have to wait until the next one where a brutal backlash to the burgeoning feminist awakening likely waits. I have hope Glass is brave enough to tell that story. Despite my own hope that Jinnel survives, in some strange convoluted Martinesque fashion, I appreciate Glass' choice to have her die off the page and present her death in a particularly brutal fashion. Some might argue that it is unnecessary, but I would suggest that anything less than the brutal truth is a disappointment.
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  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    This was such a surprising book. I read the premise and thought it sounded interesting. I started reading it, and thought "Oh, this is an Idea book. Where the Idea is more important than the story or characters. I am probably not going to finish this book." Then I slowly got drawn into the characters' lives, and interested in their fates, quirks, thoughts, and actions. Around the middle I thought, "OK, I'm going to finish this book, but it's only getting two, maybe three stars." I kept reading a This was such a surprising book. I read the premise and thought it sounded interesting. I started reading it, and thought "Oh, this is an Idea book. Where the Idea is more important than the story or characters. I am probably not going to finish this book." Then I slowly got drawn into the characters' lives, and interested in their fates, quirks, thoughts, and actions. Around the middle I thought, "OK, I'm going to finish this book, but it's only getting two, maybe three stars." I kept reading and by the end I was so interested, staggered, and impressed that it got four stars. The concerns I had at the beginning were valid, they're just outweighed by all the good. The Bad Guy is really very bad and pretty flat, although you can tell Glass worked really hard to get in his head and make him believable. That effort, to me, came across as him in some situations and chapters being a mustache-twirling cartoon bad guy and in other situations reading as a Complicated Person Who Makes Bad But Understandable Decisions. I loved the characters. Not in a "I want them as my best friend way" but in an "they were interesting, unique, three-dimensional and fun to read about" way. Glass tried to depict the range of human emotion from ecstasy to hate. For me, the emotions read a bit flat, but I was so drawn in by the plot that I didn't care as much as I did at the beginning of the book. My main criticism is that it felt very odd that everyone in the book seemed to be uniformly heterosexual. The talk about the motes being "feminine," "masculine," or "neuter" seems to naturally lend itself to a discussion--or at least an acknowledgement--of the spectrum of sexual identity or at least of the fluidity of identity. After all, our protagonists were notable for being able to see motes of the "opposite" gender. But that idea is never really discussed or explored. Perhaps it will be in subsequent novels, for which I am already impatient. This was a fun book to read, once I got into it, and an even more interesting book to reflect upon.
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