Warrior Woman

( 27 )

Overview

This is not a typical Marion Zimmer Bradley novel. This book is the result of a bet between Marion and Don Wollheim, her editor for the Darkover novels at DAW Books. In addition, it's her response to the Gor novels - where men were men and women were slaves - that were also being published by DAW Books.

Yes, this book does start out with a heroine who has been captured and is being sold as a slave, who has amnesia and remembers nothing of her life before the trip across the ...

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Overview

This is not a typical Marion Zimmer Bradley novel. This book is the result of a bet between Marion and Don Wollheim, her editor for the Darkover novels at DAW Books. In addition, it's her response to the Gor novels - where men were men and women were slaves - that were also being published by DAW Books.

Yes, this book does start out with a heroine who has been captured and is being sold as a slave, who has amnesia and remembers nothing of her life before the trip across the desert with the slavers - and, due to a head injury, remembers mercifully little of that. But she does know that she would rather fight in the arena than be a harlot for the men who do, and that choice changes the rest of the book. In a Gor-style novel the woman would become less her own person, eventually learning to be a contented and obedient slave. In this book, even while the heroine, called Zadieyek of Gyre, remains a slave, she is something quite different from the typical 'slave girl' - she grows and develops, always searching for her memory and her past, convinced that this is not how her life is supposed to be. And, of course, she's right.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781938185014
  • Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust
  • Publication date: 5/31/2012
  • Pages: 154
  • Sales rank: 1,508,467
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer was born in Albany, NY, on June 3, 1930, and married Robert Alden Bradley in 1949. Mrs. Bradley received her B.A. in 1964 from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, then did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-67.
She was a science fiction/fantasy fan from her middle teens, and made her first sale as an adjunct to an amateur fiction contest in 1949. She had written as long as she could remember, but wrote only for school magazines and fanzines until 1952, when she sold her first professional short story to VORTEX SCIENCE FICTION. She wrote everything from science fiction to Gothics, but is probably best known for her Darkover novels.
In addition to her novels, Mrs. Bradley edited many magazines, amateur and professional, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine, which she started in 1988. She also edited an annual anthology called SWORD AND SORCERESS for DAW Books.
Over the years she turned more to fantasy. She wrote a novel of the women in the Arthurian legends-Morgan Le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and others-entitled MISTS OF AVALON, which made the NY Times best seller list both in hardcover and trade paperback, and she also wrote THE FIREBRAND, a novel about the women of the Trojan War.
She died in Berkeley, California on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a major heart attack.

Biography

Marion Zimmer Bradley was writing before she could write. As a young girl, before she learned to take pen in hand, she was dictating stories to her mother. She started her own magazine -- devoted to science fiction and fantasy, of course -- as a teenager, and she wrote her first novel when she was in high school.

Given this history of productivity, it is perhaps no surprise that Bradley was working right up until her death in 1999. Though declining health interfered with her output, she was working on manuscripts and editing magazines, including another sci-fi/fantasy publication of her own making.

Her longest-running contribution to the genre was her Darkover series, which began in 1958 with the publication of The Planet Savers. The series, which is not chronological, covers several centuries and is set on a distant planet that has been colonized by humans, who have interbred with a native species on the planet. Critics lauded her efforts to address culture clashes -- including references to gays and lesbians -- in the series.

"It is not just an exercise in planet-building," wrote Susan Shwartz in the St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers. "A Darkover book is commonly understood to deal with issues of cultural clash, between Darkover and its parent Terran culture, between warring groups on Darkover, or in familial terms."

Diana Pharoah Francis, writing in Contemporary Popular Writers, noted the series' attention on its female characters, and the consequences of the painful choices they must make: "Struggles are not decided easily, but through pain and suffering. Her point seems to be that what is important costs, and the price is to be paid out of the soul rather than out of the pocketbook. Her characters are never black and white but are all shades of gray, making them more compelling and humanized."

Bradley's most notable single work would have to be The Mists of Avalon. Released in 1983, its 800-plus pages address the King Arthur story from the point of view of the women in his life -- including his wife, his mother and his half sister. Again, Bradley received attention and critics for her female focus, though many insist that she cannot be categorized strictly as a "feminist" writer, because her real focus is always character rather than politics.

"In drawing on all of the female experiences that make of the tapestry of the legend, Bradley is able to delve into the complexity of their intertwined lives against the tapestry of the undeclared war being waged between the Christians and the Druids," Francis wrote in her Contemporary Popular Writers essay. "Typical of Bradley is her focus on this battle, which is also a battle between masculine (Christian) and feminine (Druid) values."

And Maureen Quilligan, in her New York Times review in 1983, said: "What she has done here is reinvent the underlying mythology of the Arthurian legends. It is an impressive achievement. Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Celtic and Orphic stories are all swirled into a massive narrative that is rich in events placed in landscapes no less real for often being magical."

Avalon flummoxed Hollywood for nearly 20 years before finally making it to cable television as a TNT movie in 2001, starring Joan Allen, Anjelica Huston, and Julianna Margulies.

Two years before she died, Bradley's photograph was included in The Faces of Science Fiction, a collection of prominent science fiction writers, such names as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Under it, she gave her own take on the importance of the genre:

"Science fiction encourages us to explore... all the futures, good and bad, that the human mind can envision."

Good To Know

Aside from her science fiction and fantasy writing, Bradley also contributed to the gay and lesbian genre, publishing lesbian fiction under pseudonyms, bibliographies of gay and lesbian literature, and a gay mainstream novel.

Bradley rewrote some editions of her Darkover series to accommodate real advances in technology.

Her first stories were published in pulp science fiction magazines in the 1950s.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Lee Chapman, Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 30, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      Albany, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      September 25, 1999
    2. Place of Death:
      Berkeley, California

Read an Excerpt

And then the litter stops and all of us, the other women, the brute in the leather apron, a tall frightened-looking boy not more than seventeen, are pushed out into a vast indoor courtyard. Weapons are piled up in heaps and hung on the walls of the buildings that surround us. At one end there is a bathing pool, and a building I later learn to be a fine bath house. At the other end was what (I later learned) we call the Doorway to Fate, for it leads into the Arena from which so many of us never return. At the other sides are living quarters and a forge where weapons are made.

In the courtyard half a dozen men are working out with swords and spears; others are in the middle of a slow dancelike exercise. All activity stops as the litter comes to a halt, and they crowd around to look at us. But the memory of the sound of clashing metal is in my ears, and I stare at the swords on the walls. I feel my fingers curving and clenching, aching for the feel of one of them in my palm. My hand is actually posed for the grip of the hilt.

The men crowd around the litter with a cry of "Women!" As we descend, they make good-natured cat-calls of welcome at the brute with the muscles, at the terrified adolescent. "Hey, what's that, gladiator or a bedbug for those as can't manage with the women?" He shrinks and I am sorry for him, but then he grabs up one of the swords from the wall and gestures with it and there is a good-natured cheer of welcome.

But there are other sounds, words I hardly understand, for the other women, and for me, when we descend. I know we have been bought for the use of these most brutish of men, and between the unused wine in my belly and my fear, I think I will besick again.

One of the men, still holding a sword casually on one arm, comes to the smallest and prettiest of the women, who reaches up to pat his ugly cheek and smile engagingly at him. He pulls her toward the door of what I later know are the sleeping quarters. A man I will soon know as the Master of Gladiators nods permission and jerks his head at one of the favored men. He comes to me, takes a crude hold of my breasts, and as I flinch backward, says something too gross for my limited language. There is rough laughter, jeers as he pulls away the skirt that does not properly cover me.

And I know that this is the moment of choice, If I back down now, if I let him take me toward that room, I will spend what remains of my life spreading my legs for these brutes....

White fire splitting my head, a blow, scream, suffocate, die, a naked animal fighting hands that part my thighs--

Better to die quickly. With one leap the sword is in my hand, my palm curves around it like an old friend. Sick, drunk, my body remembering what I do not, I fall into what I later know to be the classic pattern of defense. I use both hands on the sword; they are still manacled together and I have no choice.

With a howl of rage he raises his own sword. and I--sick, drunk, manacled--I split his skull.

"Jasric guard us! The wench is a warrior!" It is the voice of the Master of Gladiators. He strides to me through the silence around us. The last woman has been tittering nervously, falls silent as he glares at her.

He jerks his head. "Get her the key."

Someone tosses me a key. Without letting go of the sword. I bend my head and wrench the key in my teeth toward the manacles. At a signal from the Master of Gladiators, someone--I do not look at his face--comes to twist the key and set me free.

The Master of Gladiators says, "I don't usually bother with woman gladiators. They're more trouble than they're worth. But you've earned the right to a trial. Want it? Believe me, girl, whoring's an easier life." And he waits for my answer. There is no sound at all except water splashing in the fountain at the far end of the courtyard. Even the other harlot has stopped her giggling.

My voice is thick, rusty with disuse, and I have little of the language, but I struggle for the words.

"I am no harlot. If I must be one or the other, I a fighter will be."

"Your right, then, to choose," he says, and gestures; two of the men drag away the body of the man I have killed. I never find out who he was, not even his name. The Master looks at the remaining girl and stands, belligerently, arms akimbo.

"You going to fight for a chance at the sword?"

She shakes her head, backs away, glaring at me with real hate. I don't know why.

"So. Two whores are enough for the rest of you loafing cowards. Enough time wasted." He nods at one of the men, who takes away the last of the women, and glares at me.

"You, girl. Pick yourself a sword over there ... or do you like that one? I'd say it's heavy for you, but work with it and see how it goes. I'll find someone to work out with you." His eyes sweep quickly around the ring of men. He says with quiet menace, "Remember; she's a fighter, not one of your whores. Hands off. Girl, I give you leave to protect yourself, but no killing, remember."

So I become a gladiator.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 27 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    An interesting take

    Though not my favorite by this author, with the insight of the introduction, it was kind of fun. Certainly creative!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    I wish I could have liked this more.

    Normally, I like her writing but this seemed to drag. One of those where I had to force myself not to skip pages. The ending tied in the loose ends but did little else for me. I suppose my review would have to be, it was okay.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    A wonderful novel of science fantasy with an amazing end. - roge

    A wonderful novel of science fantasy with an amazing end. - rogermue

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    MZB's take on pulp fiction fantasy, but with a different kind of

    MZB's take on pulp fiction fantasy, but with a different kind of female protagonist. The woman is taken captive, and does not remember her own name or anything of her past.. Instead of submitting and becoming a prostitute, she fights back and creates a new life and identity for herself as a warrior woman in the gladiatorial ring. An entertaining fantasy adventure story.

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  • Posted March 30, 2012

    I great introuction to this writer

    This is a great book for a person with an open mind and a desire forn adventure. Having read this, I'm looking forward to reading more books in thid gendre and by this author. This would be a fun read for a book club discussion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    Not her best but liked it anyway.

    I always like to read another gladiator book. After being raised on such classic movies and books as Spartacus, Ben-Hur and Quo Vadis, I just keep an eye out. My newer favorites "Wolfling" by Gordon R. Dickson and "The Bull from the Sea" by Mary Renault. This one will not be one of my favorites because the amnesia sub-plot with much introspection and weeping and wailing just did not work for me. It also gets in the way of survival. One's strategy and tactics are enhanced by familiarity with Sun-Tzu, von Clausewitz, Machiavelli and various fairytales (where wolves pretend to be your grandmother

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Disappointed.

    This is not a book I would recommend to anyone.

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