In a feminist fantasy epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core.
“A compulsive read, riveting characters, life-or-death stakes . . . a smashing book!”—Tamora Pierce
When a nobleman’s first duty is to produce a male heir, women are treated like possessions and bargaining chips. But as the aftereffects of a world-altering spell ripple out physically and culturally, women at last have a bargaining chip of their own. And two women in particular find themselves at the liberating crossroads of change.
Alys is the widowed mother of two adolescent children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully regulated, but now she discovers a fierce talent not only for politics but also for magic—once deemed solely the domain of men. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, young Ellin finds herself unexpectedly on the throne after the sudden death of her grandfather the king and everyone else who stood ahead of her in the line of succession. Conventional wisdom holds that she will marry quickly, then quietly surrender the throne to her new husband. Only, Ellin has other ideas.
The tensions building in the two kingdoms grow abruptly worse when a caravan of exiled women and their escort of disgraced soldiers stumble upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—might well tear down what is left of the patriarchy. The men who currently hold power will do anything to retain it. But what force in the world can stand against the courage and resolution of generations of women who have tasted freedom for the very first time?
Praise for The Women’s War
“The Women’s War is an epic feminist fantasy for the #MeToo era. . . . The Women’s War does what so many classic adult fantasy books do not: It gives us a nuanced portrayal of grown women dealing with a wretchedly unfair society. It is rare to read a fantasy novel with a middle-aged mother as a main character. And it is refreshing to see women becoming heroes in a world that wishes to keep them muzzled.”—Sabaa Tahir, The New York Times Book Review
“A blend of the traditional Western European epic fantasy and the birth control revolution of the 1960s, The Women’s War takes the reader on a journey toward revolution. . . A fascinating and entertaining read, and a welcome addition to the world of epic fantasy.”—New York Journal of Books
Glass's substantial debut stands out as both social commentary on contemporary issues of bodily autonomy, gender, and social power and as feminist retribution fantasy, made manifest through an appealing epic fantasy setting and grounded in a carefully designed magic system. The kingdom of Aaltah's disgraced women are exiled to the Abbey of the Unwanted, where they sell potions and sex. Three generations of a powerful bloodline led by Alysoon Rai-Brynna, mother of two and the widowed, disinherited daughter of the aging king of Aaltah and the abbess perform a ritual that transforms the world to give women the power to prevent all unwanted pregnancies and fatally retaliate against rapists. Alysoon becomes a target for the wrathful response of men in power, and a leader in exploring the uses of a secret new source of feminine magic. Palace intrigue clashes into open rebellion as the women decide they have had enough of being chattel. Though female leads take center stage, Glass gives real depth to her male characters as well. Personal and political aspects of the story blend gracefully together to provide a high-energy story with sweeping forward momentum toward the next installment.