When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M Wilson is a fantasy, lesbian novel. Be prepared though, it doesn’t have epic battles or a significant romance element, rather, it is the coming of age story of Tamra, a young woman of the warrior class.
Tamra’s comes of age and is taken to a fortress guarding the northern border. Here she will learn the ways of the warrior from a mentor. It is her mentor’s responsibility to teach her to fight and help her take her place in their community.
This is a political opportunity as much as it is one of learning. Aligning herself with a strong house means that she will have allies. But instead of taking the traditional path of finding a mentor she is asked to become the companion to a former slave. The woman is without position or influence and, although disappointed, Tamra takes on the challenge wholeheartedly.
Through this friendship she learns many valuable lessons, including who she is and when to trust her moral compass. She learns about loyalty, friendship and that being a grown up is about making the unpopular, difficult decisions when they are the right ones.
The story is gentle but never slow. It is fun learning about the world that Wilson has created as the story unfolds.
This is the first audio book I have heard narrated that I believe it is better for the narration. The book is well written but the nature of the story lends itself to being told rather than read.
Friends, mentors and lovers dot Tamra’s landscape. I enjoyed the diversity of the characters and the how each one brought something different to Tamra’s life.
The Writing Style
The book is told from the point of view of the young girl, Tamra. She is naive, so the story is simple and revelations are that of a young woman. As a result of the character view you do not always understand the motivations of other characters. This makes the story feel very personal and unpredictable.
The events, although not necessarily large ones, were impactful, often beautiful and sometimes painful.
The audiobook is narrated by Janis Ian. The narration worked well with Wilson’s writing style. It was clear, easy to listen to and I was soon pulled into the world of swords, fires and ritual.
I enjoyed the story and recommend it, especially if you want something that doesn’t have extreme emotional curves. I loved this tale in audio format because it adds to the feeling that you are being told the tale of a young woman.
Listening to it, I could almost feel the night air against my skin as I sat around a fire with Janis Ian and Catherine M Wilson while they regaled the stories of the past.
The only real con for me is the cover. It is not the best cover that I have seen, nor is it the worst.
Get the audio book of When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M Wilson. It is well worth it. Listen to it while you sit and gaze into the flames of your fire place or while on a car journey or even a commute. I enjoyed the piece and recommend it.
Excerpt from When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M Wilson
In the morning the Lady Merin sent a servant to bring me to her private chamber. Then I learned that what I had been told the night before was true. I would not be trained in the use of arms. Instead the Lady made me the companion of a warrior, a woman who had been in the household only a short time.
Through I tried to hide my disappointment, the Lady understood what I was feeling. I was the first daughter of my house. The blood of warriors ran in my veins, and a warrior’s place was my inheritance.
“For the time being,” the Lady told me, “you can serve me best by doing what I ask. You have the right to refuse, but I hope you will stay with us. Your mother handled weapons well despite her size. One day you may be strong enough to inherit her sword.”
So she didn’t take my hope from me, and I stayed with her.
The companions’ loft was just a platform over the end of the great hall farthest from the hearth. It had no walls, only a railing to keep us from toppling over the side.
The warriors slept upstairs, above the kitchen, each in her own tiny room partitioned off from the others by flimsy walls of wattle.
One of the companions showed me to my warrior’s room. She rapped on the doorpost, and before we heard an answer, she gave me a furtive look, then turned and fled back down the stairs. When there was still no answer to her knock, I pulled aside the curtain covering the doorway and went in.
My warrior was sitting cross-legged on her bed, the only piece of furniture in the room except for a small chest beside it. The morning light streamed in through the window and fell across her hands as she mended and old pair of boots. She looked up at me.
“I’m your companion,” I said.
“I don’t want a companion,” she replied.
She glared at me with dark and angry eyes until I couldn’t meet them anymore. When I looked away, she resumed her mending and paid no more attention. I felt like running out the door, but my feet refused to move. I stood silent before her as if turned to stone.
After a little while my curiosity overcame my fear. There was something odd about her. I couldn’t think what it was. I’s only one brief glimpse of her.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN: 9781935061168
- Audio Book Publisher: Dog Ear Audio
- Narrated by: Janis Ian
Note: I received a free review copy of When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M Wilson on audio book. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always endeavour to review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.
I want to share a story with you. I have an email list that authors and publishers join. When I am looking for new books to review I send out an email to anyone who has subscribed. Recently I sent out a call for audio books but I stipulated three things in my email.
This is an extract from the email:
I am stricter with audiobooks than I am with Kindle versions.
Firstly: They must be well-narrated. Bad narration really kills a story, even a good one.
Secondly: They must have a happy ending. I am realising that a book that doesn’t have a happy ending really does nothing for me. Call me sentimental but I know myself and I know that the chances are that your review won’t be a good one if it doesn’t have a happy ending.
Thirdly: I won’t review books that I didn’t enjoy. That way I am not promoting a product that I do not believe in and you do not get a bad review. I am also not a fan of erotica so please don’t send me any.
I received this response from Catherine M Wilson
Firstly: The book is narrated by Janis Ian, who won a Grammy for narrating her own autobiography, so I think you can count on good narration.
Secondly: This is Book I of a trilogy. It has a happy ending, as does the entire trilogy, but the story is not complete. We’re hoping to do Book II in 2016.
Thirdly: There are mild sex scenes, not graphic, definitely not erotica.
I still smile. I love authors. What a brilliant response.