Once there was a city of women
That is the first line of The Steel Seraglio. That line had me at hello. That line was only a breath of anticipation. The rest that followed was an amazing read of rich and raw storytelling filled with so many delicious female characters that I was in feminist heaven.
First off, I’m not a feminist (I’m not an ‘ist anything’ – well, maybe a readist. Oh who the fuck am I kidding, yes, I totally am a feminist, but a masculine-ist too. How about just a humanist?). I digress! What I am is a person who enjoys solid, strong female characters in the stories I read (especially if they’re written by men, then I get the feeling the dudes just get it). Well this story has strong female characters coming out of the wazoo. A harem of them to be exact. And some pretty bad-ass villains I might add.
Let me first comment on the beauty of the cover. This is what first caught my eye. Sombre, poetic, mysterious, ancient, feminine. I knew this could be good.
It is a story about 365 concubines who are condemned by a mad man. Cast into the desert they learn to rely on each other, to recognize their own strengths, desires, morals and will. They join together to take back the beloved city from which they were cast. It is a story about an army of women and it is breathtaking.
Different parts of the story are focused on different characters, the majority of them the women however there are a few good men thrown into the mix as well. The three main female characters, Zuleika, Rem and Gursoon are fabulous beyond my expectations. Each are so different from the other. Zuleika is a warrioress, Rem is a librarian with the gift of sight and Gursoon is wisdom personified. These three lead the women through the desert, through trials and tribulations culminating in a glorious, heart-pounding battle. The story is well paced, well thought out and I believed every single character. The mad man/villain of the story gets special props for being so creepy, mean and evil in his righteousness.
Mike Carey, Linda Carey and Louise Carey did an amazing job with this story – a story worthy of the women in it. Mixing in a little Arabic flavour, this is a book to please anyone who loves a combination of lore, fantasy, rebellion, myth and poetry.
One tiny complaint: There were moments that some very modern dialogue crept into the women’s speech. It really stood out in those times as the majority of the story is told in a very ancient type style. But, it is a small complaint and should by no means stop anyone from picking this up.
Posted on August 18, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged adventure, book review, books, fantasy, linda carey, louise carey, mike carey, strong female characters, the steel seraglio. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.