Wilson, Catherine M.: A Hero’s Tale (When Women Were Warriors) (2008)

when women were warriors iii
Cover photo by Donna Trifilo

What Catherine M. Wilson describes in When Women Were Warriors is a society that may or may not have existed. A matriarchal society is a society where women rule and inheritance goes through women. A Hero’s Tale is supposed to be set in Great Britain ca. 1000 BCE (late Bronze Age). In fact a bronze knife holds a pivotal role in A Hero’s Tale.

For the average person (as we see with the forest people) tools and weapons would have been largely made of stone/flint (such as arrow heads and spear heads). Warriors would have invested in bronze swords and bronze arrow/spear heads although most would probably not have been as fancy as this sword. More nerdy stuff below.

Ms. Wilson keeps on stringing words together in a manner that creates music in my head.

I have had three teachers in my life that have taught in the manner Maara seems to teach Tamras. Two were in school and one has been in my personal life. The relationship of teacher/student – master/apprentice is a tricky one. An apprentice wants to become as proficient as the master and excellent masters want their students to learn as much as it is possible for the masters to teach. Maara has an ability to impart her knowledge without holding anything back yet pacing her delivery to fit Tamras learning speed. I guess you could say Tamras is the ideal student. She wants to understand and acquire whatever skills Maara sees fit to share. To do that Tamras needs to learn to think for herself. Perhaps that is the most important lesson Maara shares with Tamras.

Tamras’ ability to see past the surface of people and things is not a talent she got from Maara, rather it was one Maara helped Tamras unfold. Seeing beneath the surface of herself was more difficult and at one point in A Hero’s Tale Tamras’ lost herself to appearances. Losing ourselves to the Abyss is a point a great many of us end up at one or more times in our lives. Finding our way out can seem beyond our abilities. Tamras did not even know if she wanted to find her way out. Some people end up letting the Abyss take them. Tamras did not. Her coming back was a choice that was aided by others. Many times in our lives that is the way it is for us. We need others to guide us back from the edge or the canyon and on to safe ground again.

Tamras learns a great deal about Virtel and her past and this opens up for an understanding of Virtel’s actions. The baggage we bring with us from our childhood is incredibly difficult to set down and rearrange. At least it has been for me. All through my life I have had to take that backpack off my back and rearrange its contents to make it more comfortable. I keep on adding to it and removing contents. Virtel has not yet reached that point in her life. Perhaps the meeting between her and Tamras at the pass will turn out to be one of Virtel’s learning moments. I hope so.

Elen’s canyon kingdom reminded me of some of Norway’s inaccessible places. This setting has to be somewhere in Scotland. Not knowing the British Isles all that well, I do not know where you would find such a difficult to access valley. With only a thin footpath from the hills into the valley and a dangerous water-way out it would seem to be a defensible place. If only it had been wide enough to have farms to keep the community alive during a siege things might have turned out differently for Tamras and Maara.

Elen is an interesting character. She seems to be stunningly beautiful. Enough so that men and women are distracted from their own goals. In addition, Elen seems to have some kind of ability to hypnotize or influence people’s thoughts so that her goals become theirs. A trance-like state seems to be what all who oppose her end up in. I imagine that would be a handy tool.

As with Elen’s ability other paranormal/supernatural abilities in people are present in When Women Were Warriors. These talents are for the most part just an increase in various talents that people generally have. Tamras’ ability to understand others seems to be one such boosted talent. She has always had it. During the story Tamras seems to become more aware of having it, but it does not seem as if the talent is anything she has much control over. I cannot tell if Elen’s ability is something Elen controls or if it is just a talent that she uses because it happens to be part of her.

Tamras manner of dealing with Elen is interesting. Alas, I cannot share it here. But it is fascinating to watch all the same.

Ms. Wilson brought her characters and areas alive for me. I do not see strings of words in pictures in my head but as sound. Why that is, I do not know nor do I care. But I care very much about having experienced the music of When Women Were WarriorsThe Warrior’s Path is on permanent free offer.


Reviews:


  • File Size: 622 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0981563635
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Shield Maiden Press (October 1, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

My review of:

  1. The Warrior’s Path
  2. A Journey of the Heart

Societies around 1000 BCE with matriarchal elements:

Warfare around 1000 BCE:

Ruling queens in ancient Britain:

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