Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Women's War by Jenna Glass
Narrator: Robin Miles
Published by Random House Audio on March 5, 2019
Length: 20 hours, 19 minutes
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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.
I really loved this! It has typical fantasy world where women have almost no choices. Their primary worth is to bear an heir for men in the patriarchal society. Men control the magic. Men can also choose to send women to a whorehouse for the “unwanted.” This includes wives who can’t have children, or if they want someone else, or even daughters. There the unwanted are bought for sex or toil in creating spells, where the earnings go to the kingdom.
The head of this unwanted whorehouse is the “divorced” first wife of a king. She is from a powerful magic bloodline and a seer. She is able to see more magic, both male and female than most everyone. She creates a spell to give women power over their own fertility. This has many consequences; none make men very happy. She leaves a notebook for her daughter Alys to learn more of women’s magic.
The primary characters of this story are women. Alys, the disinherited daughter of the king, her daughter, Janelle, and Ellin, grand-daughter of another king. The women are strong, smart and hard -working. They do the best they can with the hand they are dealt in life.
The men are less well-developed as characters. There are a few good ones who get more depth and figure into the story more. The bad ones impact the story but their characters are a bit flat with being more plain black, than showing many shades of gray. They tend to be greedy, believe they should have whatever they want, fail to worry about consequences to others, and don’t think they should have to work for anything either.
The Women’s War is well-paced, a riveting story, and likely to be a favorite of mine this year. There are the strong women, well-developed plot lines, and action I most desire in a book. I really can’t wait to see where it goes in the next book, because the war is just begun.
Robin Miles is new to me, but I truly enjoyed her narration. The male and female voices were comfortable in tones. I was able to listen at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip:
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2019 Audiobooks
- 2019 Releases