S. R. Cronin
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
It’s the 1200’s, and the small realm of Ilari has had peace and prosperity for generations. That doesn’t mean every citizen is happy, however. Sulphur, the third of seven sisters, is glad the older two have been slow to wed. It’s given her the freedom to train as a fighter, in hopes of fulfilling her lifelong dream of joining Ilari’s army. Then, within a matter of days, both sisters announce plans and now Sulphur is expected to find a man to marry.
Is it Sulphur’s good fortune her homeland is gripped by fear of a pending Mongol invasion? And the army is going door to door encouraging recruits? Sulphur thinks it is. But once she’s forced to kill in a small skirmish, she’s ready to rethink her career decision.
Too bad it’s too late. The invasion is coming, and Ilari needs every good soldier it has.
Once Sulphur learns Ilari’s army has made the strategic decision to not defend certain parts of the realm, including the one where her family lives, she has to re-evaluate her loyalty. Is it with the military she’s always admired? Or is it with her sisters, who are hatching a plan to defend their homeland with magic?
Everywhere she turns, someone is counting on her to fight for what’s right. But what is?
I found the booth with no problem. As only officers wore uniforms and the man standing there was decked out in full regalia, I guessed he was someone important. My nervousness surprised me as I approached him.
“Hello lass,” he greeted me with warmth. “Let me guess. You’ve got a younger brother who wants to join us but he’s too nervous to come talk to me himself. Am I right?” He seemed pleased. With what? That he induced nervousness in potential recruits?
“Uh, no. Sir. I was hoping to get some information on me joining.”
He looked at me more closely. Of course I wore a dress, not my fighting clothes, so I didn’t much look the part, but he squinted at me anyway.
“You’re tall. And you look to be in good shape. Have you ever held a sword?”
“I’ve been sparring since I was a child.”
That impressed him.
“And I’ll do what ever you need to me to. Answer questions about weapons, engage in fights, perform tests of strength, whatever you need.” I spoke too fast in my eagerness.
“Slow down,” he chuckled. “All that’s good, but actually, none of it is as important what I’m going to tell you next.”
He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure how to explain this vital fact to someone as uninformed as me.
“You’re a farmgirl, right?” He looked at my clothes again.
“Well, the Svadlu are more of a city operation. We do things different than on the farm.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean being a member of the Svadlu is a pretty good deal. Lots of young people want in.”
“I know. That’s why I’ve worked so hard.”
“And that’s good, but I’ll cut to the chase. Most successful recruits get a sponsor. You know, someone already in the Svadlu who vouches for them. Um, especially if you’re, well, you know, a woman. Then it helps a great deal if one of us says you’re up to it.”
“But I can prove I’m up to it!”
“I suspect you can.” The look he gave me held respect, but he stayed firm. “A sponsor makes the difference. Why don’t you ask around. Surely your family knows someone who can help you?”
He looked up. Several people stood behind me now, hoping to talk to him. “If you’ll excuse me …”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.
She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.
All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.
Author Social Media Links:
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4.25 out of 5 stars
“She’s the One Who Gets in Fights” by S.R. Cronin details Sulphur’s journey as she finds her purpose in life. She and her sisters get intimately involved in various ways to defend their homeland from the vicious invaders that are threatening to destroy the realm of Ilari. Her career choice makes her contemplate her values and whether she has the determination to achieve her goals.
This historical fantasy is part of the ‘War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters’ series and centers around the sister who has the fire to become a warrior, although her gender is against her, especially in a system that leans heavily on a “who you know” sponsorship structure. I love seeing how she follows her heart and finds a way to achieve the goals she wants.
This series is fascinating, because each story can be read as a stand-alone story, but provides a different perspective of the same set of events. The drawback is that the tale ends on a cliffhanger, because the final major event will undoubtedly feature all seven sisters, each of whom gets her time in the spotlight. I enjoyed seeing the actions of Sulphur’s sisters through the prism of her perspective, and there are multiple twists and turns that keep one glued to the book and anxious to keep turning the pages. I confess that I was sad to realize I had come to the end and I am impatient to learn about the rest of the sisters’ talents and accomplishments.
The world-building is intricate and intriguing, and the characters are nicely developed. I appreciated the deft descriptions of this realm’s misogyny and how Sulphur finds a way to cope, even as I ached for the thorny decisions she was faced with at times. The book is an inspirational story that is filled with action and adventure that celebrates the power of women and I think it would be enjoyed by young adults as well as those who are older. I’m looking forward to meeting another of these extraordinary sisters and seeing how she changes her world.
A copy of this story was provided for review