Looking through the never ending library of mine residing in my kindle, I came across this little beauty. The cover is deceiving as the description peaked my curiosity and I decided to give this one a go. I was not anticipating at all the story that unfolded and was surprised at every turn. The Steerswoman is a sci-fi mystery and adventure story which combines fantasy elements into the narrative. A true genre blender from start to finish and I’m always on the lookout for these types of stories. Although written in 1989, the same year I was born, The Steerswoman can still hold its place with many other novels written today. Lets take a dive into the story.
Rowan is a Steerswoman, an order responsible for traveling the land to gain knowledge and to navigate the high seas. Steerswoman also must answer any question they are asked by citizens and without question. Rowan comes across a strange blue jewel and is fascinated by it. So much so that she must discover everything she can about it and return to her leader for more information. Rowan comes across an Outskirter named Bel whom the not so friendly people call a barbarian. Bel decides to join Rowan on her trip as the two woman discover that they are being hunted. The wizards are looking to stop Rowan and Bel from discovering the origins of these jewels and blood will be spilled for the secrets to be hidden. What Rowan discovers may force her to do the one thing she fears the most, lie. This is just the first leg of this journey and the story is just getting started.
The story itself seems pretty basic on the surface but Rosemary Kirstein writing seems like their are hidden treasures buried beneath the pages. Rowan is constantly throughout the chapters exploring the wonders of the world and how language is a big part of how people and other creatures interact. The story is a mystery of the jewels origins but also a mystery of the mind and how it interacts with everything around it. The pacing may feel slow at times but I was always so absorbed with the words that one chapter quickly turned into five. Although their are some fight scenes, it is not the main focus of the book. The Steerswoman will let your imagination run wild.
I would like to talk about one more aspect of the book that I found interesting. Rosemary Kirstein does like to play a little bit with gender roles and how they are told. For example, The Steerswoman are predominantly female but their are a few Steersman but they are rare. Just like the wizards are mostly male but with a few exceptions. There are no “gender roles” per say in this story and it comes down to abilities, strengths, and personal choice for which paths our characters get to choose. I can’t say if this was something new to the genre when this book was written in 1989, but it stood out to me and I enjoyed that aspect.
You may be asking where the sci-fi aspect comes in, well that will be spoiling the fun as you will have to read and find out. The story is not what it seems and I think there is so much more to discover here. Although the story does end abruptly, I am very much looking forward to the sequel. More more Sci-fi series added to my self.