Title: The Women’s War (Women’s War #1)
Author: Jenna Glass
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication date: March 5th, 2019
In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core.
When a nobleman’s first duty is to produce a male heir, women are treated like possessions and bargaining chips. But as the aftereffects of a world-altering spell ripple out physically and culturally, women at last have a bargaining chip of their own. And two women in particular find themselves at the crossroads of change.
Alys is the widowed mother of two teenage children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully proscribed, but now she discovers a fierce talent not only for politics but also for magic—once deemed solely the domain of men. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, young Ellin finds herself unexpectedly on the throne after the sudden death of her grandfather the king and everyone else who stood ahead of her in the line of succession. Conventional wisdom holds that she will marry quickly, then quietly surrender the throne to her new husband…. Only, Ellin has other ideas.
The tensions building in the two kingdoms grow abruptly worse when a caravan of exiled women and their escort of disgraced soldiers stumbles upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—threatens to tear down what is left of the patriarchy. And the men who currently hold power will do anything to fight back.
Welcome to a world where women are treated as objects and no one cares about them. Basically an exaggerated form of our current world, with magic thrown in and I’m here for it. I had some initial difficulty getting into this book, and it is a chunker, but once it started to pick up I really enjoyed it and all the characters.
The Women’s World has several POV’s, across kingdoms and genders in this world. Women do not have rights and are treated as objects to be traded or owned. They are not allowed to do anything without permission, and if they are deemed unmarriageable they are shipped off to any Abbey to be forced into sexual slavery for the kingdom. Women cannot do magic, even though they are perfectly capable, and woman’s magic is looked down upon across many kingdoms. Frankly, it’s a bad time to be a woman and men are able to do whatever they want. Until the Abbess in Aalwell decides enough is enough and crafts a spell to give women control over one thing that will strike fear in the hearts of men… their fertility. Women no longer can be forced to bear children, the spell makes it so they have to want the child in order to get pregnant. There are other, not planned for effects, which creates issues across the kingdoms for men.
I was a little frustrated with this book until the middle, because the treatment of women is just so bad. It was hard to read at times, but I know this was done on purpose. I was more frustrated because the women weren’t doing anything about it. I was looking for a female power epic fantasy and it wasn’t looking like I was going to get it. However, it started to pick up in the middle with some outright rebellion and experimenting with ways the women could not assert their new powers, which I was all for. There are some redeemable men, which was heartening to see – most of the main men characters are quite terrible though.
There is plenty of action and intrigue as the setting is fairly medieval – kings, queens, and arranged marriages for the sake of the kingdom. The characters find themselves struggling to hold onto the world as they know it and have to make some quick maneuvers to stay ahead of the tide.
I like the main female characters that we get in separate POV’s, they each are trying to get through this oppressive society the best way they can. There’s only one male POV, and his is honestly the worst because he is a terrible person. Quite truly. I’m sure his POV is thrown in there to greater shed the light on the issues with the perception of women.
The ending killed me, even though I had an inkling it was coming. The brutal killing of a character is never fun to read, but even worse when you don’t realize it’s happening and it’s just tossed in for dramatic effect.
I received the sequel, Queen of the Unwanted, through Netgalley which is why I decided to pick up this title. I hadn’t heard of it before Netgalley, but I’m glad I read it as it was right up my alley with epic fantasy. The magic system was well described and thought out, while still being unique and interesting.
Check back in a few weeks for my review of Queen of the Unwanted!
Happy reading, folks!