The Sea of Time

seaoftimeI’ve been reading one of the Kencyrath books, The Sea of Time. If you haven’t heard of them, go read God Stalk right now (or whenever’s convenient, I’m not picky). I found a copy at a college library book sale and read the chapter titles. I was sold when I saw a chapter called, “The Untempling of the Gods”.

I think the first book is the best of the series, but the issues I have with the later books are easy to forgive. P.C. Hodgell was in the middle of working on her college thesis when she wrote them, so they understandable suffered a little. They weren’t as polished as God Stalk but I still enjoyed them a lot. If you like Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the thieve’s guild action in the first book will keep you endlessly entertained.

The protagonist is a Highborn Kencyr named Jame (short for Jamethiel Priest’s Bane). She initially suffers from Zelazny-esque “Mythic Hero Amnesia”, though its handled well. She’s a member of a race that isn’t native to the world. They’ve fought a millennia-long, losing war with the god of evil, are obsessed with honor, and practice monotheism even though they despise their god.

She is a compelling, well written, and three-dimensional female heroine in the S&S genre. Such seems rare, even if we include generic fantasy literature as well. Most of the attention goes to Conan and his iron-thewed ilk. When prominent female characters do show up they tend to be two-dimensional (both ivory-skinned and voluptuous) rather than people in their own right. Now that isn’t to say that all S&S does this. Teres from the Kane novel Bloodstone was a fierce warrior with a well developed personality that went beyond being a sexual object for the male characters to lust over. Jirel of Joiry got some cosmic adventuring in, though if I remember right there was a lot of mention of “heaving bosoms” and such. I’m sure there are others, but the fact remains that they are a rarity in the field.

Even the cover art for Honor’s Paradox and Bound in Blood depict Jame as a big breasted woman wearing revealing clothing. This is despite the fact that it is something of a plot point that she is small breasted and often mistaken for a boy (much to her annoyance).

I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s refreshing to read a S&S book that escapes from the R. Howard camp in this regard.

It occurs that I haven’t said anything about The Sea of Time despite it being the title of this post. Well, too late now. Go read the series and I’ll post more later.



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