Lauren from Library of Lauren (@chimchimjimins over on twitter!) tagged me in the International Women’s Day 2020 tag by Dianthaa (Dianthaa Dabbles). I am EXTREMELY LATE, but that’s because I was banned from the computer for almost two weeks, on doctor’s orders. (Repetitive strain injury to my wrist. Blegh. But all’s well now!)
ANYWAY. Much thanks to Lauren! Even though this is terribly late, I had a lot of fun with it 😀
A Book With a (Closer To) Gender-Equal Society
Hm, it’s just occurred to me that this is neither written by a woman nor has a woman as the mc…although two of the four POV characters are women, so hopefully it counts?
But the Lightbringer series truly is a brilliant one when it comes to – well, everything, but especially the worldbuilding, and especially in how well-balanced the power is between the sexes. If anything, society skews slightly female-centric – more women than men are drafters (magic-users), and one out of every ten men are superchromats (extra-special magic users) while it’s half of all women drafters. That’s reflected in every aspect of the societies in Weeks’ archipelago; my favourite tiny detail is how ‘she’ is the default pronoun when someone is describing a hypothetical situation, when it’s very much ‘he’ in our own world.
A Book About Writing Your Own Story
Listen, if you haven’t read this by now, you need to, because it is perfect in pretty much every way. For the sake of this book tag, though, it’s pretty literally about writing your own story – the protagonist January is not-white in early 1900s (or the very end of the 1800s? I forget) America, a girl hemmed in on every side by old rich white men. Over the course of the book, she refuses the story they try to force on her and insists on creating a new one for herself – even if she has to reshape the world to do it. It’s an incredible book about never letting other people define you, and the power of the stories we tell – both the true ones, the lies, and the ones we make true.
A Story with Women Working Together
The Towers trilogy by Karina Sumner-Smith features the best f/f friendship I’ve ever seen in fiction. There’s no romance here; it’s all about Xhea and Shai, two teenage girls, working together to save – tear down – recreate everything they’ve ever known, something they could never do apart, but just might be able to accomplish together. I love these books so much and will never stop shrieking about how amazing a pair Xhea and Shai are. More people need to read these books!!!
A Book with a Twist on a Traditional Gender Role
Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series brilliantly takes on the idea that women stay home and men go to war – only in her world, that’s interpreted as women ruling the home; literally being the ones to own property, manage finances, and dominate politics and religion (the Pope is a woman, and it’s awesome). Men get sent out to fight battles and…that’s kind of it. Rather than completely swapping traditional gender roles, Elliott flips around how people value those roles; the arts of war aren’t seen as nearly as important as that of managing a household/estate/kingdom. It’s a fabulously cool take, even aside from being an epic example of Epic Fantasy in its own right.
A Woman in a Man’s World
Sisters of the Raven is set in a world where only men can use magic – or rather, only men could. Now men’s powers are fading, and more and more women are beginning to manifest magical ability. No one knows why, but you can bet such a flip of the status quo is not welcomed by all and sundry. Women across all different social classes have to come together if they want to survive the rage of a society that hates what they were, and what they’re becoming, all with Hambly’s signature gorgeous writing.
A Book with a Positive Romantic Relationship
The Sharing Knife quartet – although there’s now a fifth book set in the same universe – revolves around the relationship between Dag, a Lakewalker, and Fawn, a Farmer. Lakewalkers are a semi-nomadic people whose entire purpose is hunting the land for Malices, monsters capable of destroying the world; Farmer is just a Lakewalker term for what we’d think of as normal people, those without a Lakewalker’s magic powers – not all Farmers actually farm. The two peoples aren’t supposed to mingle, but when Dag and Fawn’s paths cross during a Malice hunt, they’re both swept up into a beautiful whirlwind romance, which carries them through adventures neither of their families could ever have imagined. I absolutely adore their relationship, and the series is one of my favourite comfort-reads. (An especially excellent one to pick up now we’re all in isolation!)
A Book Featuring a Women’s Issue
In the dominant society of We Set the Dark on Fire, men have two wives – a Primera, the cool and dispassionate partner in her husband’s goals, and the Segunda, the beautiful and passionate woman to adore him and bear his children. While I was thinking about what book to choose for this part of the tag, I realised that that division – the Primera/Segunda split – actually captures a very common issue for women in the industrialised world (and maybe everywhere?): the world demands that women fit into one of those two boxes. You can be a ‘boss bitch’ or you can be traditionally feminine and family-orientated, but not both; and no matter which you pick, there’ll always be accusations of being ‘frigid’ or stuck-up, or, if you choose the other option, your homemaking skills will be devalued and your femininity used to slut-shame you. If you want to be taken ‘seriously’, you can’t be seen as a sexual or emotional being; if you want to be beautiful and soft, gods forbid you ever let anyone guess you have a working brain behind your mascara-lined eyes.
I’m exaggerating, slightly, but you get the idea. Mejia plays with that split throughout her novel (and presumably the sequel, which I haven’t read yet!), and while it’s far from the most important plot-arc, it’s there and it’s damn powerful.
Thanks again to Lauren for tagging me!
Has anyone else read these books, and if so, what did you think of them?