Monday, April 11, 2011

The Female Conan the Barbarian: Silverglass by J. F. Rivkin

'It's fun to see a tall, handsome, hard-fighting, hard-drinking barbarian hero--- who is female. --- Piers Anthony

Corson brenn Torisk is not only everything Piers Anthony said above, she also chases girls--- sometimes. Corson's your classic barbarian hero in female form. In the beginning of Silverglass, she's giddy-happy because two of the warring factions of the city of Rhostshyl have paid her to kill the same person--- the sorceress Nyctasia ar'n Edonaris.

But when Corson finally meets her target, Nyctasia is in a low tavern pretending to be a student-minstrel, and she offers to pay Corson handsomely to serve as her bodyguard. And Corson evidently feels that Nyc has a body worth guarding as the two women get quite *friendly* along the way (offstage, non-graphic *friendliness*).

Corson must save Nyctasia's life more than once before they escape the city and Nyc's enemies (many of whom are members of Nyc's family.) En route to meet Nyc's friend 'Ben, they pass through the haunted forest, where they must stay on the road or risk a horrible fate (and of course Nyc leaves the road, much to Corson's disgust.)

Overcoming evil magic, assassins, poison and seasickness, in the end Nyc is away from her enemies and as safe as someone like her will ever be. And the two women have forged bonds of friendship (and *friendship*) which will last.

Silverglass and the other three books in the series were at one time sold through lesbian mail-order bookstores and currently are present on many lists of lesbian fantasy fiction. But reading the story it's clear that both Corson and Nyc have men as their primary love interests, and their *friendliness* with one another is a casual thing.

Silverglass is fun and sometimes funny fantasy for those who like strong female characters. It lacks the angst and tragedy, as well as the driving moral issues, of Mercedes Lackey's Last Herald Mage trilogy (which features the Gay mage, Vanyel). I haven't thought of the series for years, but when I recently found two of the Silverglass books when sorting out my bookshelves, I found they were very much worth a second read.

Silverglass and the other J. F. Rivkin books are currently out of print but can be found on and eBay.

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