I am afraid that Lightening’s Daughter lived up, or down, to both standards. As fantasy it was a hard sell. The heroine was a sexy young lady who had managed to become an awesome warrior and was able to disguise herself as a man and penetrate a nomadic, barbarian culture. She was eventually discovered. In a day before transgender was considered normal you either had someone so feminine that they could not swing a sword more than once or so masculine that they would never be discovered. That doesn’t even make allowance for curves and lack of facial hair.
I was dealing with that until I came to these paragraphs.
“He reined his horse to a snorting, prancing stop directly in front of Nara (a telepathic horse, immune to magic and bonded to our heroine) and Gabria (our heroine) and swept off his hood. “Sorceress!” he cried, “I have been looking everywhere for you!”At this point I could just hear all the female readers throwing a big sigh. I wondered if Fabio had somehow been channeled into the script. This is standard boilerplate for romance novels. It is the kind of stuff that makes me want to puke. I can’t ride a horse. I am old and far from lean. I am pale and bald, need a shave and have confused lines of jaw and cheekbone. I cannot relate. I certainly am not attracted.
Gabria was so surprised she could only stare down at the man. He was young and lean, with the dark skin and brown eyes common to Tutic tribesman. His black hair was worn in an intricate knot behind his head. His face was clean-shaven, revealing the strong, narrow lines of his jaw and cheekbones. Gabria thought he was compellingly handsome, and he met her confused stare with a bold, masculine look of pleasure.” p. 76
So another book goes on the pile for the used bookstore. At least I woke up somewhat earlier than I do other times. I guess it is back to Aristotle and Churchill.
Herbert, Mary H. Lightening’s Daughter. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, Inc., 1991.
homo unius libri