Stories about strong female characters have always been important to me. In my younger days these stories were difficult to find. Usually the women depended on a man to be heroic and choices we laud in women were not acceptable in the so-called “weaker sex”. Female authors have been just as guilty as male authors in perpetrating this stereotype. But some authors dared break through unwritten rules and wrote about women who might still struggle to be accepted by readers. Rifkind is one such woman. Her author is Lynn Abbey.
Rifkind’s Challenge is about adventure taking place in a medieval type of society. There are necromancers, possessions, zombies, strange power and sword fighting. Rifkind is tiny and usually underestimated by her much larger opponents. The smart ones quickly learn no to. Other opponents cannot deal with a woman defeating them. Often they end up with their entrails hanging out due to that stupidity.
Rifkind’s Challenge is about difficult choices we make in life. Rifkind leaves the Ashereen because of her dreams. As eldest son to Chief Hamarach, Tyrokon is supposed to take over; but with his handicap, he would just be putting his clan into danger. Chief Hamarach asks Rifkind to go with Tyrokon part of the way. Cho considers himself Tyrokon’s second and goes along. He happens to be Rifkind’s son. Tyrokon ends up being a mediator between Cho and Rifkind. Their family skills are complicated by Rifkind’s fame, youthful appearance and abilities.
“Where does she come off fighting like that? She is a healer … a healer! Isn’t that enough? Does she have to have men’s honors, too? Who does she think she is?”
I have not read the previous two installments in this series, but Rifkind’s Challenge works well as a stand-alone novel and is a great sword and sourcery adventure.