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In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core. 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 In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core. 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 crossroads of change. Alys is the widowed mother of two teenage children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully proscribed, 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 stumbles upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—threatens to tear down what is left of the patriarchy. And the men who currently hold power will do anything to fight back.


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In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core. 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 In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core. 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 crossroads of change. Alys is the widowed mother of two teenage children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully proscribed, 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 stumbles upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—threatens to tear down what is left of the patriarchy. And the men who currently hold power will do anything to fight back.

30 review for The Women's War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lucia

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc. 2.5 stars. Maybe. This book contains a richly drawn world, believable characters, a complex but neat system of magic and enough political machinations to keep you on your toes the whole way through. What it isn't is fast paced or exciting, and this took me over a month to get through. While I really, really appreciated the concept of this book—that the world changes because women gain the power to control whether or not they become pregnant—t Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc. 2.5 stars. Maybe. This book contains a richly drawn world, believable characters, a complex but neat system of magic and enough political machinations to keep you on your toes the whole way through. What it isn't is fast paced or exciting, and this took me over a month to get through. While I really, really appreciated the concept of this book—that the world changes because women gain the power to control whether or not they become pregnant—the execution left much to be desired. This was not the angry feminist fantasy I wanted. In fact, none of the characters seem all that angry, despite living in a terribly misogynistic world. They aren't itching for change. They accept the things that happen to them and it was...frankly disheartening to see all this women just...not be angry. Like Shelvon! I'm sorry but as an historian of the Middle Ages, I can say that in no time period were women ever that docile. My largest complaint with this book is the utter absence of gay characters. You cannot in the year 2018 write a feminist fantasy and not include queer women. An abbey full of scorned noble women?? THEY WOULD HAVE SEX WITH ONE ANOTHER. Instead, these women all just accept the fact that they will never have enjoyable sex because like, apparently 0 of them are gay. It made no sense. Queer women have always been at the forefront of feminism and to not include them in a feminist story like this one is upsetting, unacceptable, and insulting. Seriously there are 0 gay characters, 0 mention of homosexuality existing in this society, and 0 hint that any of the women who ALL LIVE TOGETHER might have romantic feelings for one another. I really enjoyed aspects of this, don't get me wrong. But it's such an ambitious book that fails in many ways, and I can't overlook the ways it fails when it has to do with the very aims the book sets out for itself. Your feminist fantasy should be queer. It should have queer characters. It should have angry women. And it should have women who seek power for themselves without having to have a man tell them to do it. Seriously our two queens here are put in power because men give them the idea. It's ridiculous. I get that maybe these women have lived with misogyny and no power for so long that they wouldn't think to take power but history has shown us that women always find a way to think outside of misogyny and rebel. The things I legitimately liked here was the ending with Ellin and Tamzin, Ellin's arc in general, Jinnell's character (she's gay you can't convince me she isn't), and the magic itself. I'm so disappointed by the lack of queer women in a story that so desperately needs them (like oh ladies you're tired of men??? good thing there are like...other people you can have sex with and fall in love with. Oh wait...in this world they're apparently aren't). I'm disappointed by the lack of anger. And most importantly I'm disappointed by how this story handles rape. The author chooses to have all these women raped in one brutal scene, the result of which is that they start producing a specific type of killing magic. Great. Except none of these women is given a survivor's arc, their trauma is never explored, and we are actually fed a line about how they experience so much trauma on a daily basis that the rape basically doesn't matter. Rape causes trauma. How can you include rape victims in a feminist fantasy and then not give at least one of them an arc about survival, healing, and dealing with trauma? I was shocked, hurt, and amazed frankly. This book has some great elements. Ultimately, though, it fails in the ways that matter by setting itself up as a feminist fantasy and then...not being very feminist. This was intriguing enough that I might read book 2 and will at least check out the final product. But I can't say I'm very pleased.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    The Women’s War by Jenna Glass is the first book in the epic fantasy Women’s War series. This is another book in which women have been treated as if they are property instead of equals along the lines of things like The Handmaid’s Tale or Vox. In here though we start off meeting Alys who is the daughter of a King but her mother was exiled years before when the King decided he was finished with her so Alys has been disinherited. While visiting her mother in the awful place she had been living sinc The Women’s War by Jenna Glass is the first book in the epic fantasy Women’s War series. This is another book in which women have been treated as if they are property instead of equals along the lines of things like The Handmaid’s Tale or Vox. In here though we start off meeting Alys who is the daughter of a King but her mother was exiled years before when the King decided he was finished with her so Alys has been disinherited. While visiting her mother in the awful place she had been living since her divorce Alys’ mother hints to something big coming for women and later that night she does cast a spell that releases the women of the land. From that point of the spell taking place the book begins to switch the point of view between differing areas of the two kingdoms involved. Alys finds herself looking for answers to help her daughter, Ellis finds herself in line for the throne of her kingdom without a husband and then there’s the place in which Aly’s mother had been with those woman finding are not what they would seem. I’m not sure I would even need to say to those that know me well that over five hundred pages of book I did find some places that really seemed to slow down and be in danger of losing my attention. I did like the idea overall of the world the author tried to create here and to be rather vague this was due to following the different classes and getting a point of view from all angles. Some of the content could be a brutal and might bother some but it wasn’t as bad as one could expect either, if that makes sense? So while I wasn’t completely wowed at the end I did enjoy this one and would give it 3.5 stars. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Helen Power

    Synopsis: In this patriarchal, high-fantasy world, women are used by royals as bargaining chips and are valued only for their ability to reproduce.  But the tables have finally turned. A curse has been cast, one that allows all women to choose whether or not they want to bear a child.  Women have finally regained some control over their lives, but the battle has just begun.  Many men will do whatever they can to keep their power. Plot & Characters Touted as a feminist high-fantasy, The Women’s War Synopsis: In this patriarchal, high-fantasy world, women are used by royals as bargaining chips and are valued only for their ability to reproduce.  But the tables have finally turned. A curse has been cast, one that allows all women to choose whether or not they want to bear a child.  Women have finally regained some control over their lives, but the battle has just begun.  Many men will do whatever they can to keep their power. Plot & Characters Touted as a feminist high-fantasy, The Women’s War does not disappoint in this regard.  This curse that is cast upon all the kingdoms gives women some semblance of power, but of course, men still seek to control them. The novel follows several women over the course of the months following this curse that befell all the kingdoms.  Each of the women is in a different stage of life – whether eighteen or the ripe old age of forty, and each of them experiences different levels of oppression. Each woman is controlled (to varying degrees) by the men in her life. These women’s journeys, while quite different in plot, are also eerily similar.  It’s fascinating to watch their characters develop over the span of this 550-page book.  However, because there are so many different characters living in different kingdoms, they can be hard to keep track of, which does slow down the pace of the book.  The individual chapters are a tad too short, giving you a taste of what is going on with one character before switching over to the next, which can add to the confusion. Although a lot happens in this book, this is not a quick read. While there are several main female characters in this story, I will focus on three: Ellin, Alys, and Jellin.  When her family is tragically killed, Ellin becomes the new Queen of Rhozinolm.  Having a female sovereign has precedent in her land, but the men of the council seek to manipulate her and seize the throne for themselves.  Alys is a forty-year-old widow with a gift for magic, which before now she was unable to use.  She hopes to use magic to make the world a better place for her children.  Jellin is Alys's eighteen-year-old daughter who must use her wits to avoid marriage to an unsavory man. While many men in this novel are reprehensible, Glass includes several men who are quite the opposite. They are masculine and strong while able and willing to allow the women in their lives to be strong as well.  They don’t have the need to weaken others in order to feel strong themselves.  I was a little worried going into this novel that in order to make the women powerful they would have to cut down the men.  This is true for the egotistical, psychopathic, power-hungry men of this world, but fortunately Glass makes the distinction between these men and the allies, and The Women’s War does not develop a dangerous "us vs. them" mentality. Worldbuilding I absolutely adore how magic works in this world. It’s so simple, yet unique in concept. There are elements everywhere, some which are feminine, some masculine, and some neutral.  Each element has a unique purpose.  Glass expertly introduces readers to the nuances of this type of magic without readers having the chance to realize that so much information is being fed to them. There aren’t pages upon pages describing how magic works. Instead, she weaves the information about magic into the plot, revealing just what readers need to know as they need to know it.   Magic is so critical to the way that this world works, and it’s quite cleverly done. By adding a “mote” of the element “rho” to the “cheval” (horse-like invention for transportation), you start it up and can begin your journey. The existence of magic and how the people use it reinforces the book's themes of oppression. Many women have the ability to see and use these magical elements, but, depending on which kingdom they reside in, it varies between being simply frowned upon and being illegal. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a high fantasy epic that blends with dystopian themes of oppression.  Looking for a feminist read that doesn't lecture or feel quite as depressing as The Handmaid's Tale? Then this is the book for you. *Thank you to Del Rey and OLA Super Conference for the ARC for review* This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Instagram | Blog | Website | Twitter My 2019 Reading Challenge

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Del Rey). This review is unbiased and honest. 2.5 ⭐ Trigger warning: misogyny, sexism, rape, violence, racism Content warning: white feminism DNF at 65% URGH! This is such a hit and miss it hurts. It could have been an amazing epic fantasy about women overcoming sexism and misogyny and fightin for equality. Instead it became a chain of how many times the author could include sex in those women's lives. Because that's what this book is all about: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Del Rey). This review is unbiased and honest. 2.5 ⭐ Trigger warning: misogyny, sexism, rape, violence, racism Content warning: white feminism DNF at 65% URGH! This is such a hit and miss it hurts. It could have been an amazing epic fantasy about women overcoming sexism and misogyny and fightin for equality. Instead it became a chain of how many times the author could include sex in those women's lives. Because that's what this book is all about: sex. It starts with how easily men can coerce women into having sex with or marrying them, and it probably ends with... well just the same, since the only effects of that spell are that women cannot procreate unless they really want to and that they produce a new element when they are raped. That's it, really. Or at least that's the jist of the half I read. If anything more interesting happens afterwards, I am unaware. The main problematic point (apart from the constant need to include non-graphic sexual content at every turn) of this novel is that it has white feminism written all over it. Let me get this clear: if, in 2019, your feminism does not include diversity of any kind (queer, disabled, body positive, different ethnicities, etc.) it is NOT feminism! It's serving your white, cisstraight interest with no regard to those who have it worse than you. Unfortunately, that's the kind of fake feminism this book falls under. Oh, there is some diversity. Of course, that diversity is accompanied by racism, even from the characters we are supposed to like, as readers, in the form of microaggressions. It is said by Delnamal and thought more than once by Alysoon that people from Nandel are too pale, that it's not normal. I don't know if the author tried to weave some sort of white racism into her story, as a way to be "woke"... Mostly, her effort lies in a sexual revolution for the women. Nowhere in the first half I read does this spell make them fight against their assumed destiny of "baby factory" or the political alliances they are forced into. It's all about how they can sleep with whomever they want without consequences. And that only applies to noble women, apprently. There isn't a single peasant among the main characters. Nor is there any queer character for that matter. Because apparently queerness isn't important in feminism........ or at least in that author's feminism. She made an entire institution filled with "unwanted" women who have to sell themselves for sex to the highest bidder, yet none of them ever thought of, you know, trying it with each other?! Hundreds of women alone together most of the time and none of them has sexual desire for her peers? PUH-LEASE! (That of course, is not including the abigails who could be asexual.... there could have been a whole arc about them dealing with the constant threat of rape) And among all those women who have to prostitute themselves, who for the most part are raped on numerous occasions, none of them ever seem to deal with PTSD......... I guess the author didn't want to trouble herself with research on the topic. It's a huge hit and miss, and it's the only thing it is. If you want a fantasy only about women's sexual revolution, go for it. If you want a truily feminist epic fantasy, look somewhere else.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shaina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Women’s War is a complicated one and yet simple at the same time. This is a world like ours used to be back in the medieval times and some parts even farther back than that as far as women’s rights and abilities are concerned; however, there is magic. Women aren’t allowed to use it in most countries or places. And women ‘s Magic is considered unclean until someone needs a certain spell and then sure, it’s all fine but on the DL. (I know I have written this before and Goodreads keeps taking my re Women’s War is a complicated one and yet simple at the same time. This is a world like ours used to be back in the medieval times and some parts even farther back than that as far as women’s rights and abilities are concerned; however, there is magic. Women aren’t allowed to use it in most countries or places. And women ‘s Magic is considered unclean until someone needs a certain spell and then sure, it’s all fine but on the DL. (I know I have written this before and Goodreads keeps taking my reviews and stuffing them somewhere but I refuse to be defeated. ) So, they are property, heir breeders, used to unite nations and to secure trade agreements and peace between countries. The kicker is that there is a place called the Abbey, where the former Queen and all other women and children of the crown and nobility —who are deemed unfit by way of ; getting old, the man wanting a different wife, suspected of adultery, birthmarks on the face; whatever the reason —are made to stay and sell potions and themselves to make money for the kings coffers. These women are allowed to open their “mind’s eye” and do magic. Simple things. But magic is stronger in women than many realize and having been practicing it for generations near the magic well in Aaltah has allowed the former queen not only to get her revenge, but to equal the sides a bit. To craft a spell that when out in place will alter the world. One where women are not just breeders or pawns in a property war. The Abbess or former Queen was from a long line of Seers. Royals were not hampered in using their magic. Especially not the queen. She warns her daughter Alys but doesn’t say much; only that she will cast a spell that will give women a right to choose. To control their fertility and therefore their lives a lot more. She and two of her bloodline she bore after leaving the castle, give their lives casting the spell and the world is forever changed. Now what are her children to do that she has left behind ? The others at the abbey? What will the king do ? It gets a mess but it’s a good story and the next book is already being written. It says it’s feminist fantasy. I’ve never read that before. I just gave this a try. No. Not all of the men are misogynistic pigs. A lot of them help the women and battle on their side. There is much more here than I can hope to put in but it would ruin the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fafa's Book Corner

    Mini review: DNF Trigger warning: Misogynistic society. Rape. Physical violence. Suicide. Till the point I read. I received this arc via Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. Buddy read with my dear GR friend Kayla! When Kayla had told me about this book I was excited! So I sent in a request for the arc. Unfortunately this wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. It wasn’t terrible but not great either. I didn’t care for the characters. Or the plot. And I felt that I’ve Mini review: DNF Trigger warning: Misogynistic society. Rape. Physical violence. Suicide. Till the point I read. I received this arc via Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. Buddy read with my dear GR friend Kayla! When Kayla had told me about this book I was excited! So I sent in a request for the arc. Unfortunately this wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. It wasn’t terrible but not great either. I didn’t care for the characters. Or the plot. And I felt that I’ve read much better feminist books. There didn’t seem to be any WOC, queer women, and women with disabilities. Considering all this I’m really confused as to why it is being advertised as such. I did try skimming to see whether my assumptions were wrong. I didn’t find anything to prove it wrong. Still recommend. I’m sure others will enjoy it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lesa Divine

    1st time reading 3/2019. 5 🌟 I actually enjoyed. Seen a lot of reviews with people DNF this it had me worried but I decided to give it a try. Seen all the trigger warnings but as i kept reading I noticed those trigger warnings are part of the plot that these women must fight for or to upcome and fight in the women's war. Characters growth, the magic system, very vivid. I enjoyed the suspense of what to come next with these women and how to get out of the crap that held women back. The politics was 1st time reading 3/2019. 5 🌟 I actually enjoyed. Seen a lot of reviews with people DNF this it had me worried but I decided to give it a try. Seen all the trigger warnings but as i kept reading I noticed those trigger warnings are part of the plot that these women must fight for or to upcome and fight in the women's war. Characters growth, the magic system, very vivid. I enjoyed the suspense of what to come next with these women and how to get out of the crap that held women back. The politics was on Q. Seeing how a queen that isn't to be on the throne fight to been noticed as a queen not a stand in until a king comes. To have a half brother want all the power and damn his half siblings for just being born. SMDH. I wonder will there be a book 2. How that ended I hope so. 2nd time reading. 6/2020 still 5 star read. I still enjoyed the growth of the characters. The fight these ladies has to put up with. Reading a second time I totally forgotten something so rereading before going on to book 2 gave me a refresher. That ending...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rike Random

    cn: death (by suicide, beheading, mercy killing, magic, (off-page) torture, …), sexual assault (rape, forced prostitution, …), miscarriages, violence against children THIS IS NOT A FEMINIST BOOK! I really wanted to like this book because the premise was awesome. Then I started reading it and within the first 10 % several characters committed suicide / were pressured into killing themselvs, countless women were raped and I don't know what else. I originally decided to just dnf the novel but then re cn: death (by suicide, beheading, mercy killing, magic, (off-page) torture, …), sexual assault (rape, forced prostitution, …), miscarriages, violence against children THIS IS NOT A FEMINIST BOOK! I really wanted to like this book because the premise was awesome. Then I started reading it and within the first 10 % several characters committed suicide / were pressured into killing themselvs, countless women were raped and I don't know what else. I originally decided to just dnf the novel but then read on anyways. It got simultaneously better and worse. I liked a few things about the book. It's world, some of the characters, the writing, some of the ideas behind it and I did get drawn into the story after a while. But I also hated so much of it (spoiler ahead and also serious tw regarding all the stuff listed above): - It is NOT queer inclusive. At all. In fact the whole thing is based on an absolutely binary concept of gender. There is pretty much only either strictly male or strictly female. And there's not a single queer character in sight. No trans or enby characters but also no sign of anybody being non-hetero. - There's also no disabled people in this, the only fat character is ridiculously evil and … I can't say that I remember any character description that, especially in combination with the skin colour of the hand on the cover, implied that anybody in this book was not white. Apart from those who were even whiter, of course (there's racism against the whiter guys?). Oh, it's also classicist (is that the right word?) and there's not a single peasant in sight, apart from some lady's maids who don't actually get a voice in this. - I absolutely hated that it is strongly implied that only women who explicitly said 'no' to and/or struggled against their rapists got 'rape-magic'. Got repeatedly raped by your abusive husband but never managed to do more than silently cry into your pillows? Well, too bad. - Then again, rape apparently also doesn't really lead to trauma in this world, so … yeah … All the women forced into prostitution are pretty much fine or at least aren't shown to experience any mayor issues after being freed. They're just mostly okay?! - Somehow women and especially women who do magic (who are usually also prostitutes) are really not well regarded in any of the countries in this world and yet in some super surprising twist of fate half the guys aren't really that shocked about them doing magic or turn out to be amazing allies?! - I hated the (on page) violence. Most of it felt so clumsy, heavy handed and often unnecessary. Yes, I get it, women are in a horrible position in this world and all guys (apart from the good ones, of course) are superduper absolutely evil. Still, I don't need all those rape scenes and other stuff. - Parts of the story seemed weirdly disconnected from the rest and there where plotlines that didn't seem to have any actual relevance to anything. It just gives this novel this feeling of "Hey, I'm just an introduction for a coming series and in the sequels it will totally make sense, that these characters were introduced!" - This is mostly about sex. Who can have it, who can't and, oh, how cool, now women can have sex with whoever they want too! Sure, this is meant to convey how women suddenly have all the power, because they can't have children unless they want to, but it just isn't done in a way that works and only seems to result in trying to see how many rape and fade-to-black sex scenes can be put into this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sami

    The Women's War is an incredible, tour-de-force answer to Naomi Alderman's book, The Power. In this epic fantasy, women seize control of the magic of the land, creating a world where women chose if they become pregnant and consequences befall any man who would fight a woman's will. Glass' heroines are women of every age, who each offer a unique perspective on their sudden gain in power. As these women begin to seize control over the dominion of men, a larger rebellion simmers. This book both fil The Women's War is an incredible, tour-de-force answer to Naomi Alderman's book, The Power. In this epic fantasy, women seize control of the magic of the land, creating a world where women chose if they become pregnant and consequences befall any man who would fight a woman's will. Glass' heroines are women of every age, who each offer a unique perspective on their sudden gain in power. As these women begin to seize control over the dominion of men, a larger rebellion simmers. This book both filled the sore spot in my heart from recent politics and stoked my rage at how women have been treated in past and present. One of the most necessary books of 2019.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    3.5 stars You can read all of my reviews at https://www.NerdGirlLovesBooks.com. This is a pretty good new fantasy series focused on what happens when women previously treated like chattel in a male dominated world are given the power to alter and improve their lives. The story focuses on three women - a widowed woman with two children that had been disinherited by her king father, a young girl that is unexpectedly thrust upon the throne when a tragic accident kills the king and everyone ahead of h 3.5 stars You can read all of my reviews at https://www.NerdGirlLovesBooks.com. This is a pretty good new fantasy series focused on what happens when women previously treated like chattel in a male dominated world are given the power to alter and improve their lives. The story focuses on three women - a widowed woman with two children that had been disinherited by her king father, a young girl that is unexpectedly thrust upon the throne when a tragic accident kills the king and everyone ahead of her in the line of succession (she is expected to marry quickly and then surrender her throne to her husband), and lastly, an abbess of an abbey where nobel "unwanted" women are dumped after their husbands have divorced them, or their family has shunned them. They are forced to use their magic to create potions to make money for the crown, as well as work in the pavilion - the kingdom's version of a brothel. After a powerful spell that struck the entire world has life-altering consequences for women, they find themselves with power that had long been denied them. When a caravan of exiled women find a new source of magic that only women can wield in a previously uninhabitable part of the desert, the exiled womens' power grows and they begin to form their own principality to govern themselves. This causes tension among the kingdoms, possibly leading to another war. This is a pretty good book, but could have used a bit more editing. Clocking in at 560 pages, I feel like a good 200 pages could have been cut without affecting the story. The story moves pretty slow, and while there is some world building, there isn't nearly enough to justify the length of the book. There is no explanation as to why women have such a subservient role in society, or why women are so easily thrown away to the abbey, even young girls, with no recourse. While the reader is told that the kingdoms once had a devastating war, there is not much explanation as to why they had the war, what happened, or why tensions are still so high. Overall, I liked the book and it's well written. I just think it was too long for what it was and could have been just as good as a shorter book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    I grabbed this book off my library’s new books shelf, and I’m glad I did. I’m happy to live in an era where we can have a blurb on the cover of a book that says, “#MeToo and #Resistance through the lens of epic fantasy.” Count me in! The Women’s War posits a world where men control the direction of women’s lives and a woman’s worth is largely determined by the children she has or could bear—wait, sorry, that’s our world. In this fantasy world it’s … oh, is it the same? Oh snap. Except in this cas I grabbed this book off my library’s new books shelf, and I’m glad I did. I’m happy to live in an era where we can have a blurb on the cover of a book that says, “#MeToo and #Resistance through the lens of epic fantasy.” Count me in! The Women’s War posits a world where men control the direction of women’s lives and a woman’s worth is largely determined by the children she has or could bear—wait, sorry, that’s our world. In this fantasy world it’s … oh, is it the same? Oh snap. Except in this case, there’s magic, and at the start of the book a conspiracy of three women aim to smash the patriarchy by working a reproductive rights spell: that’s right, women (well, people with uteruses, I’m guessing, but this book doesn’t seem to acknowledge that trans or even queer people in general are a thing) will only conceive if they truly want to conceive—and that doesn’t mean under duress. Also, there’s a bunch of ancillary effects that change how some women can do magic, etc. Glass teases the actual spell for the first few chapters and keeps us guessing, which definitely helps you get into the book. I will confess to being underwhelmed by the actual “Curse” as it becomes so named. My first reaction was, “I feel like this could really easily backfire,” i.e., women could now be punished for failing to conceive. I worried that this was a surface solution to a much deeper issue. Fortunately, Glass anticipates this objection, and indeed, the Curse doesn’t magically improve life for women—it turns out it will take a lot more to smash the patriarchy than that. If anything, The Women’s War is all about how small, ongoing acts of resistance matter just as much, if not more, than grand, dramatic gestures. The three women who kick off the Curse give their lives, which is huge—but they don’t have to live in the world they create. Alys, Shelvon, Ellin, etc., are the ones who have to live with the consequences and continue fighting, day in and day out. That takes more strength. There’s also an interesting magic system in this book. It’s an interesting mixture of alchemy and a kind of third-eye that lets the caster locate and manipulate “elements” to combine them into different spells and potions. I really like that Glass doesn’t infodump too much about this system; we get a good understanding of its basics and its limitations without a lot of unnecessary exposition. I wish the same could be said for the political intrigue … sigh. This is the part of the book that really didn’t interest me, and it’s such a significant part! The political structures of the countries in this book are extremely simplistic and undifferentiated. There are “kingdoms” and “principalities,” and every country apparently has the exact same cabinet/council structure—lord chamberlain, lord commander, lord high treasurer, etc. Glass attempts to introduce some cultural diversity in terms of the dress, manners, and expectations of the various kingdoms. But it’s all a little too cookie-cutter for a book that spends so much time talking about dynastic matchmaking, trade agreements, and land disputes. Moreover, the religious dynamic is almost entirely absent. There is some generic mention of holy text known as a Devotional, but beyond that, it’s extremely unclear how many religions there are, what their power structures are like, and how much influence they wield over various governments. Glass’ storytelling style also isn’t the most appealing to me. There was a time when I would have drooled to see a 560-page fantasy novel and yearned for more and more of them. Yet the more of them I read, the more I realize that they seldom need to be that long. We don’t need pages and pages of scenery-chewing by the bad guys lamenting that these nasty women are making them do terrible things. We don’t need pages and pages of scenery-chewing by the good guys lamenting that these bad guys are making them become revolutionaries. Paradoxically, however, I’d say that this means The Women’s War would be extremely familiar to those of us who grew up, as I did, on classic fantasy along the lines of Eddings and Modesitt. Every so often I have a nostalgia-fuelled craving for such fantasy, and you know what? This book would scratch that itch for sure. It’s just the right amount of over-the-top-taking-itself-too-seriously fantasy that would fit right in with what 14-year-old me would have loved. I’m sure some people are going to pan The Women’s War for being too progressive and attempting to cash in on what they might call the “SJW hype,” although I suspect most of those people wouldn’t even bother reading this book. On the other hand, it’s possible to criticize The Women’s War for not going far enough. I don’t really know if it’s that revolutionary in terms of the story it’s telling, to be honest, and maybe that’s part of the reason I liked but did not love this book. No queer people, unclear whether there are really any people of colour involved, no women outside of the nobility as far as I can tell … and, once again, we have a fantasy novel that replicates the patriarchal structure of our world. Granted, Glass only does this to challenge it extremely explicitly. Yet I appreciate that so many people are trying to shift the conversation within fantasy towards imagining worlds that aren’t oppressive in the way ours is, and playing with the types of conflicts that might exist in those worlds. Now, I’m not going to criticize The Women’s War for not being something it isn’t trying to be. For that very reason, however, I also can’t sing its praises at the top of my lungs. This book is trying to be a feminist fantasy novel full of resistance and rebellion. It only kind of succeeds. I always appreciate it when stories swing big, of course, and that gives this book a lot of credibility with me. I just wish either the themes had gone further or the storytelling had been more to my personal tastes—I think if either of those elements were a bit different, I’d be all over this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Haley

    I’m wondering if I read the same book as everyone else because I LOVED it. I genuinely feel that the majority of people who dislike this book are misunderstanding it. The main complaint I’ve been seeing is that this book is not feminist, and I strongly disagree with that statement. While this book does display horrible treatment of women, it is not glorified in the slightest. It is used as a tool to incite change in this fantasy world. Without these heartbreaking, horrifying scenes, there would I’m wondering if I read the same book as everyone else because I LOVED it. I genuinely feel that the majority of people who dislike this book are misunderstanding it. The main complaint I’ve been seeing is that this book is not feminist, and I strongly disagree with that statement. While this book does display horrible treatment of women, it is not glorified in the slightest. It is used as a tool to incite change in this fantasy world. Without these heartbreaking, horrifying scenes, there would not be such a demand for action. And despite this patriarchal world, women rise to the challenge. Women rulers begin to rise to power and take control over their lives, as civilian women and exiled/disgraced/abused women are given the chance to take control over their own bodies. This is such an amazing message and I am truly confused how people can misconstrue this as a book against women? I’ve also seen many comments about how all men are depicted as horrible in this novel. Again, did we read the same book? Women work together to take down evil tyrants (who, yes, are men). However, women AND men begin to work together as well. There are many wonderful male characters and female characters. I definitely grew attached to the characters in this story (I even broke down in tears at one point). Lastly, my favorite thing about this book is the magic system. It is SO FREAKING COOL. I can’t even begin to explain it, as I cannot do it justice, but oh man. The magic is so unique, truly unlike anything I have read before. I am so interested to see what else will be uncovered in the following books, as this is meant to be a series. Overall, I LOVED this book and I believe that everyone interested in reading it should go into it with an open mind. Make your own opinions before believing the rants of others. I almost held off on this book based on ratings and I am so glad that I didn’t. I am ready for book two!

  13. 4 out of 5

    aphrodite

    dnfed @ 50% so I was really enjoying this in the beginning. it was a handmaid’s tale esque fantasy world where a group of women sacrificed their lives in order to makes it that women who did not consent would no longer bare the children of their rapists. although I think the outcome would certainly backfire, it was something that would be interesting to explore the possibility of “what IF there were consequences?” “how would the power dynamics shift?” etc etc. unfortunately none of those question dnfed @ 50% so I was really enjoying this in the beginning. it was a handmaid’s tale esque fantasy world where a group of women sacrificed their lives in order to makes it that women who did not consent would no longer bare the children of their rapists. although I think the outcome would certainly backfire, it was something that would be interesting to explore the possibility of “what IF there were consequences?” “how would the power dynamics shift?” etc etc. unfortunately none of those questions were answered in any capacity. actually the only issues that did come up were now women could sleep with whoever they wanted without fear of getting pregnant. I am a strong supporter of birth control, magical curse birth control included, and of bein a hoe and getting ur mans. BUT it seems like a bit of wasted potential doesn’t it? here you provide a solution (albeit may be flawed) to a horrific act yet you don’t do much with it? now I was holding out hope. maybe it got better. but as I was looking through the reviews I was just getting angrier and angrier. not only do they bring up my exact concerns but they also brought to light the thing I was afraid of as well: the lack of any semblance of diversity. I was listening to this on audio and it’s harder for me to pick up specific appearances sometimes so I thought I very well could have missed something, but no. everyone is white. and straight. and bland soggy pieces of bread. as said by multiple people, if your book centered around feminism doesn’t include pocs, lgbt+, and/or disabled rep it isn’t feminism. the fact that this is the ENTIRE THEME of the book (and it’s released in 2019 like come ON) jenna glass really missed the mark.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The Women's War is the first book in Jenna Glass' new epic fantasy series and it is set in a patriarchal society where women are seen as property, first of their father's and eventually belonging to their husbands. Women are definitely second class citizens in this world and it shows in every aspect of their lives, right down to the fact that it is forbidden for women to use magic. Women are forced to obey the men in their lives and for noblewomen if they disobey they can be sent to the Abbey of The Women's War is the first book in Jenna Glass' new epic fantasy series and it is set in a patriarchal society where women are seen as property, first of their father's and eventually belonging to their husbands. Women are definitely second class citizens in this world and it shows in every aspect of their lives, right down to the fact that it is forbidden for women to use magic. Women are forced to obey the men in their lives and for noblewomen if they disobey they can be sent to the Abbey of the Unwanted, a place of misery where they are basically forced into prostitution to survive. The magic system in this world comes down to elements that can be combined together in different ways to create the desired affects. The three types of motes are masculine (which can only be seen or used by men), feminine (can only be seen by women) and neutral (that can be used by anyone with enough power to do so). Masculine magic is considered the most useful and used for nearly everything while feminine magic is seen as frivolous because it can only be used for things like healing. It is completely forbidden for women to use the magic unless they're living at the Abbey, in which case they're allowed to create healing spells, although any profits they make obviously go straight to the crown. This story focuses on what would happen if women suddenly had all the power. After centuries of abuse three women created a spell that would turn things on it's head, suddenly female magic is more powerful but most importantly women have complete control of their own bodies and fertility. Forcing girls into marriage won't work so well if she can refuse to have an heir and it's far easier for them to take control of their own sexuality if they don't have to worry about unwanted pregnancy. Of course this isn't the kind of world where men are going to give up their power easily so things are bound to get worse before they get better but I'm absolutely fascinated to see how we (hopefully) get to a balanced society. It's probably fairly obvious from what I've said so far that this isn't a pleasant world for women but I should include a warning that there are some scenes of rape and torture that were difficult to read. That's by no means the whole focus of the book but it is there so you should go in prepared for that. There are a lot of nasty male characters in this book that I just can't wait to receive their comeuppance but at the same time there are some strong male allies who don't like the way women are treated and there are a LOT of strong, fantastic women. The three main stories we follow are of Ellin, a young woman who ends up being the first queen of her kingdom after a terrible accident kills her entire family. She has to deal with a plotting council who want to control her every move, including getting her married off to one of their members as quickly as possible. Then there is Alys, she's a 40 year old widowed mother of two and the daughter of a king but she was disinherited after her own mother was exiled to the Abbey. Alys' mother played a role in the curse that has changed the world and Alys has been given the impossible task of trying to undo it or watching her entire family pay for her mother's mistakes. Then finally we have Alys' daughter Jinnell, a young woman who is being used as a pawn by her uncle and who is trying to figure out a way to avoid marriage to a monster. I'm not going to say anything about how these stories, and those of the women around them, play out but I will say that I really enjoyed watching them all learn to embrace their new abilities and starting to take control of their lives. The political intrigue was fascinating and I also really enjoyed seeing the women and decent men figure out what they were capable of when they chose to work together rather than against each other. There's a lot going on and I can't wait to read the next book to see how all their journeys continue.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆

    I READ THIS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO. Haha. Alright. I dunno where to start. Oh yeah. I hate books with moral lessons and/or agenda's and this one has an AGENDA. It's a feminist agenda and I'm a feminist woman, but I HATE AGENDA'S IN BOOK. Don't shove that shit down my throat. It made the characters unbelievable. They were all thinking "oh, I can't do this because men forbid it". Bish, if you actually lived in a world like that, you wouldn't know there was any other way to live. You wouldn't be think I READ THIS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO. Haha. Alright. I dunno where to start. Oh yeah. I hate books with moral lessons and/or agenda's and this one has an AGENDA. It's a feminist agenda and I'm a feminist woman, but I HATE AGENDA'S IN BOOK. Don't shove that shit down my throat. It made the characters unbelievable. They were all thinking "oh, I can't do this because men forbid it". Bish, if you actually lived in a world like that, you wouldn't know there was any other way to live. You wouldn't be thinking "Oh, but for men, I'd surely have more freedoms!" No. That would be the way you were raised. It would be your culture. Fun fact, female genital mutilations are woman on woman violence. There isn't a man holding a gun to them. You can argue that it's needed for marriage prospects, sure, but it's also couched in a lot of cultural ideas. A woman will be a slut if she doesn't do it. She's shameful, etc. There's the whole culture behind it. You don't get that with this book. It's all men-men-men. And suffrage movements sprang up because the way women were living had changed. They were in America where they had to take on more male roles and other nations were going through the Industrial Revolution, which necessitated women taking more jobs. They learned there were other options and it grew from there. This happened every time they were allowed more freedoms like during the WWs. They suddenly had to fill male jobs, found they could do it, found they liked to do it, and didn't want to stop doing them when the men returned. There's none of that in this book. The magic system was okay but this whole agenda thing the author had going was all like "the feminine aspect was considered useless!" WUT? The feminine aspect accounted for fertility spells, growing better crops, magical viagra, etc. Like, would the world be all like "welp, it's cool that Viagra was disappeared because that was useless and worthless" or "welp, who needs fertilizers? haha! not the crops!" Like, this is what I hate about agenda's. They supersede logic. They want to push they're message onto the story and be damned if it's even remotely logical. Like, yeah, spells that go boom are great but your army isn't going to go far without food and a shit ton of men over 40 will always be interested in Viagra. That the evil person was fat bothered me. This normally wouldn't bother me but I think the contrast with the rest of the cast is what did it for me. The others are all white, noble beauties. The men in their lives are all handsome. The one clearly marked to be evil is fat. There's no other fat person in the book. This book doesn't have diversity at all. It would be like if he was black and everyone else was white. Another thing that annoyed me was that they'd all get together and look grimly around and say, something to the effect, that "this was treason" or "this would get them in a lot of trouble." This and the whole "men won't let me do this" drove me CRAZY. I hated the characters. Ellin was meh. Stupid but whatever. Alice was a 5 year old. She drove me CRAZY. She wasn't mature. She wasn't smart. All the shit her children had gone through was her fault. All she'd've had to say to her guard was "whisk the kids away if the King gets ill." She knew her brother had it out for her but she just flounced out without a thought to them. She was just so frustrating! But, more than all this, I think the manner this story was told was all wrong. It's a very, very short period of time (6 months) so we see NO effects of this spell. We see no lower class reactions. We see no repercussions (save one woman.) It's like the spell went off and nothing. I really hate to say it, but this story should've been a series of short stories, with each successive up jumping forward in time. I generally hate those sorts but then we'd get a good idea of the struggle through many PoVs (not just shut away, stuffy, rich beautiful white women... and a fat evil king.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)

    I finished this SO fast compared to my recent reading pace, which says a lot about how much I enjoyed it. It’s political, it’s dark, and it really draws you in. The heroes face incredible odds, but there’s also a really incredible sense that their world changing around them so anything could happen. I love that feeling of possibility, and of course the possibilities for revenge that permeate the story. The magic system is interesting. It’s a little scientific sounding, but very simplified. That wo I finished this SO fast compared to my recent reading pace, which says a lot about how much I enjoyed it. It’s political, it’s dark, and it really draws you in. The heroes face incredible odds, but there’s also a really incredible sense that their world changing around them so anything could happen. I love that feeling of possibility, and of course the possibilities for revenge that permeate the story. The magic system is interesting. It’s a little scientific sounding, but very simplified. That works well for making the magic parts of the book easy to follow, although in the sequel I’d love to see more about what makes someone a good magic user besides how many elements they can see. What’s really great is that the magic system’s divisions into masculine, feminine, and neutral elements play into the worldbuilding. It shows that patriarchal standards have been applied everywhere, the same way that different professions in our world are valued or undervalued depending on if they’re associated with men or women. No area of life is apolitical, because humans apply our biases and assumptions to the way we understand everything. The characters’ understanding of magic in this world reflects that. There was more romance than I was expecting, though in retrospect it makes sense and provides some of the hope in the book: there’s a lot of misogynist men, the book says, but also plenty decent men you can actually have a mutually fulfilling and respectful relationship with. I did think that one romance subplot was resolved a little too easily, in that it could have led to more emotional stakes if the main character involved been forced to confront if it was the best choice for her, rather than being forced to end the relationship before she ever figured that out. In some ways, this reads to me like a grownup The Will of the Empress, or a toned-down The Traitor Baru Cormorant. There are lots of things to watch out for in this book. Violence, death, rape and misogyny, mostly. Some scenes are truly horrible, but they’re well-written. The villains are (terrible and) human. The heroes have to make the hardest choices. My biggest issue is probably that for a book so concerned with women and feminism, there is just no intersectionality. There are no lesbian or bisexual characters, even though you’d think a book so focused on women’s desires, and whether or not they desire the men they’re supposed to, would be ripe for queer plot lines. There are no trans characters, even though a world of such strict binaries just begs for a plot line that challenges the implicit assumptions about gender that this world runs on. There is no discussion of race or racism — while character descriptions are vague enough that any or all of them could be women of color, nothing is noted about characters’ race or ethnicity in this world. I enjoyed the story very much while reading, but when I step back and look at it, I can’t help seeing that there’s several dimensions missing because the story only acknowledges straight, cisgender, racially ambiguous characters. It makes what was such a vibrant reading experience seem lacking in depth and scope, as if it is missing several of its own points.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    When I first read the premise of this book, I was blown away and I was so sure I was gonna fall in love with it. And when I actually got approved for the ARC, my joy had no bounds. However, I’m quite unsure about how the experience turned out to be. So, let me share my thoughts. I definitely went into this book expecting a very fiery feminist fantasy world where the women are finally ready to take down the patriarchy, but I got was a very understated version of it - which is not necessarily a ba When I first read the premise of this book, I was blown away and I was so sure I was gonna fall in love with it. And when I actually got approved for the ARC, my joy had no bounds. However, I’m quite unsure about how the experience turned out to be. So, let me share my thoughts. I definitely went into this book expecting a very fiery feminist fantasy world where the women are finally ready to take down the patriarchy, but I got was a very understated version of it - which is not necessarily a bad thing. This is a highly misogynistic world where women have very few rights and there are levels of apathy towards women based on the kingdom where they live. So, when women finally gain the power of conception/fertility due to a devastating spell, it’s not a dramatic shift of power. The men are nowhere near ready to give up everything they’ve grown accustomed to and most of the women still need to outgrow everything that they’ve been taught since their birth. What we see happening is a group of women who slowly realize the other magical powers they can access now, and how to navigate this new world. This is a very slow process and they rely a lot on other men in their lives to get what they want. While it was wonderful to see a couple of men in this sexist world truly support the women in their quest for power, I think it would have been more effective as a story if the women were more independent thinking - they certainly are very capable. The pacing is also consistently slow throughout, there is more of the day to day lives of the characters and lots of political intrigue, but hardly any action at all. There is also no diversity at all in the book (or the author deliberately leaves the descriptions very vague) and despite many women going through deep trauma due to rape and assault, we never get to explore how they are affected or their stories of survival. While all the characters were quite good, Ellin is the one I felt most fascinated by and I think she has some of the best and important scenes in the book. Jinnel is also such a thoughtful and selfless young woman and I would have liked to see so much more of her. While this book was not what I really expected, it has a well realized world and magic system that I really liked. I would still recommend this book if you don’t mind a slow paced book with more intrigue and no action and which felt more like a setup for the sequel. I enjoyed it enough that I might be interested to know what happens next.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Madi

    DNF at 1/3 of the way in. Saw that this "feminist fantasy" has no rep for queer women and the treatment of sex workers was absolutely abysmal. The male characters are all considered terrible and the female characters are not much better or smarter. Do not have the patience for a pretentious ass fantasy at the moment. Still marking it as read though. DNF at 1/3 of the way in. Saw that this "feminist fantasy" has no rep for queer women and the treatment of sex workers was absolutely abysmal. The male characters are all considered terrible and the female characters are not much better or smarter. Do not have the patience for a pretentious ass fantasy at the moment. Still marking it as read though.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley. The description defined this a "high fantasy feminist epic," and that is dead-on. This is a secondary world setting where women are marginalized, abused, and maligned, and they finally start to fight back. That also means this is a difficult read at times, as it doesn't shy away from incidents of rape and abuse. That said, this IS a book from a mostly feminist perspective, and it doesn't let those horrors become the defining moment for those I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley. The description defined this a "high fantasy feminist epic," and that is dead-on. This is a secondary world setting where women are marginalized, abused, and maligned, and they finally start to fight back. That also means this is a difficult read at times, as it doesn't shy away from incidents of rape and abuse. That said, this IS a book from a mostly feminist perspective, and it doesn't let those horrors become the defining moment for those characters. The book follows a largely female cast in various parts of "the Wells." This is a world where people can focus on their Mind's Eye and see elemental orbs that can then be combined to different magical effects. I found this very easy to picture because it seemed video game-like to me, and I loved that. Women, of course, are almost entirely forbidden from tapping this power. The very sight of a women using magic, her eyes going to all-white, is regarded as obscene. The only place where women are permitted to use limited magic is if they are exiled to abbeys--rather like government-run bordellos, where unclean women are forced to give out sexual favors or otherwise peddle wares in lowly ways. A matrimonial line decided, in ages past, to break the very way magic functions in the world in order to give women a way to fight back. They essentially bred themselves to cultivate this ability. They carry this out near the beginning of the book, to immediate physical and magical results. I am keeping the particulars vague to avoid spoilers, but I will say this: the consequences are myriad and truly make you think about women and the power they carry over their own bodies. I enjoyed seeing this analyzed through the lens of magic. A few criticisms. I was surprised that there wasn't more queer representation, especially within the confines of abbeys. I also wish the villain had more nuance, because yeesh, is he a nasty villain. He's almost too easy to hate. I felt like bathing in bleach after scenes in his perspective. This is the first book in a series and it ends on something of a cliffhanger. The one peril of getting an early reviewer edition of the book is that I have an even longer wait until I find out what happens next!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review. What would happen in a world where women are marginalized and abused, if they found a way to get the upper hand over the men that dominated them? The book begins with an earth shattering event that had me turning pages, and it didn’t let up. This book had great characters: strong women and good, supportive men living through extremely difficult situations. There are some very frightening villains as well. Add to that lo I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review. What would happen in a world where women are marginalized and abused, if they found a way to get the upper hand over the men that dominated them? The book begins with an earth shattering event that had me turning pages, and it didn’t let up. This book had great characters: strong women and good, supportive men living through extremely difficult situations. There are some very frightening villains as well. Add to that lots of royal scheming, court politics, and a large dose of magic, and you have a real epic fantasy (without too much info dumping). If you like strong female characters, magic, and palace intrigue, you’ll definitely enjoy this book. I can’t wait for the next installment!

  21. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    DNF at 4% Just not feeling this. I think it's definitely one of those "it's not you, it's me," books. DNF at 4% Just not feeling this. I think it's definitely one of those "it's not you, it's me," books.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anne - Books of My Heart

    This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart   Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.     4.5 hearts   I really loved this!  It has typical fantasy world where women have almost no choices. Their primary worth is to bear an heir for men in the patriarchal society. Men control the magic. Men can also choose to send women to a whorehouse for the "unwanted."  This includes wives who can't have children, or if they want s This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart   Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.     4.5 hearts   I really loved this!  It has typical fantasy world where women have almost no choices. Their primary worth is to bear an heir for men in the patriarchal society. Men control the magic. Men can also choose to send women to a whorehouse for the "unwanted."  This includes wives who can't have children, or if they want someone else, or even daughters.  There the unwanted are bought for sex or toil in creating spells, where the earnings go to the kingdom. The head of this unwanted whorehouse is the "divorced" first wife of a king. She is from a powerful magic bloodline and a seer. She is able to see more magic, both male and female than most everyone.  She creates a spell to give women power over their own fertility.  This has many consequences; none make men very happy. She leaves a notebook for her daughter Alys to learn more of women's magic. The primary characters of this story are women. Alys, the disinherited daughter of the king, her daughter, Janelle,  and Ellin, grand-daughter of another king.  The women are strong, smart and hard -working.  They do the best they can with the hand they are dealt in life. The men are less well-developed as characters. There are a few good ones who get more depth and figure into the story more.  The bad ones impact the story but their characters are a bit flat with being more plain black, than showing many shades of gray.  They tend to be greedy, believe they should have whatever they want, fail to worry about consequences to others, and don't think they should have to work for anything either. The Women's War is well-paced, a riveting story, and likely to be a favorite of mine this year. There are the strong women, well-developed plot lines, and action I most desire in a book.  I really can't wait to see where it goes in the next book, because the war is just begun.   Narration: Robin Miles is new to me, but I truly enjoyed her narration.  The male and female voices were comfortable in tones.  I was able to listen at my usual 1.5x speed. Listen to a clip: ://soundcloud.com/penguin-audio/the-wome...  

  23. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    The Women’s War is one hell of a story. Based on a society where women are considered second-class citizens, if they are lucky, this is the story of revolution led by two extraordinary women. Alysoon Rai-Brynna is a widowed mother of two and daughter of a king. When her father divorced her mother in favor of a more politically advantageous marriage, Alys and her brother were declared illegitimate. And her mother became an Unwanted, sentenced to life at the Abbey. Princess Ellinsoltah of Rhozinolm The Women’s War is one hell of a story. Based on a society where women are considered second-class citizens, if they are lucky, this is the story of revolution led by two extraordinary women. Alysoon Rai-Brynna is a widowed mother of two and daughter of a king. When her father divorced her mother in favor of a more politically advantageous marriage, Alys and her brother were declared illegitimate. And her mother became an Unwanted, sentenced to life at the Abbey. Princess Ellinsoltah of Rhozinolm will become queen when the two most likely male candidates to the throne would most like cause a war. The plan: after her year of mourning, Ellin will take a husband who will then become king. Or so her council thinks. These two women will become the pivotal characters who react and overcome so many obstacles thrown at them in the aftermath of the world-altering spell. The story is complex and so many characters lives are intertwined it is impossible to represent all of that here in a review. So I will pick and choose a few characters… Crown Prince Delnamel (half-brother to Alys and Tynthanal) is the villain to boo at every time he turns up. Occasionally, he seems to have a teeny tiny bit of heart, but don’t let that fool you. There is one horrible scene where Delnamel arrests three senior abigails and then allows his men to rape the women of the Abbey. My heart ached at the scene, but it a critical event that changes the raped women in such a way that those men will have cause to regret. Tynthanal, brother of Alys and lieutenant commander at the Citadel, escorts the women of the Abbey to the wasteland to their new home. It is because of him that the women discover the new Well of magical elements. Thus Women’s Well was founded. Tynthanal is one of the few male feminists in the book. Semsulin, is the lord chancellor and head of the royal council of Rhozinolm. He is the man who talked Ellin into taking the crown. His motives are not entirely clear, though as the book goes on, he seems to support Ellin more and more. I think he only wants what is best for the kingdom and that is a difficult thing to determine. In a society where only men are allowed to use magic, it will come as quite a shock when those men learn that women are not only able to use magic in many ways, but they are also quite good at. If they don’t make room for women as equals, they will loose. Take as much of that as you wish as a commentary on any aspect of women’s history in our own world. The cover by Elizabeth A.D. Eno, is beautiful and inciteful and truly represents the story. Ms. Eno must have read the book before she crafted her cover. The Women’s War is 560 pages long according to the published page counts. You would think 560 would be enough to tell a story. It isn’t. Be prepared for a huge cliffhanger. The only characters whose stories are resolved are the ones that died. The description on NetGalley gave no indication that this was the first book of a series. The Women’s War gets 4 stars from me, losing one star due to the gigantic cliffhanger. (I may have thrown a fit when I finished the book. I don’t remember. It is all kind of fuzzy.) But if I was the type of reader who didn’t mind cliffhangers, I would give it all 5 stars. Heartbreaking, hopeful, magical and emotional. The Women’s War truly is an amazing story. Here is a quote from the book. It was said by Alys’s mother, right before the world upended:Something is going to happen tonight. Something … momentous. Something that will change the world in ways I can’t entirely foresee.Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. CW: rape, sexual assault, violence Who could turn down the opportunity to read a book labeled as "feminist fantasy"? Overall, I liked this book, but unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations. My major issue w/ this book is that I felt like the events, actions, characters, plots, relationships, etc were not allowed to take root. This was especially true w/ the I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. CW: rape, sexual assault, violence Who could turn down the opportunity to read a book labeled as "feminist fantasy"? Overall, I liked this book, but unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations. My major issue w/ this book is that I felt like the events, actions, characters, plots, relationships, etc were not allowed to take root. This was especially true w/ the romantic relationships. By this statement you would think that this book would have been too fast paced. Wrong! After 25% I felt like the plot slowed to a snails pace. Once I hit the 80% mark, I almost only read the dialogue and by doing so my interest in this novel went up exponentially. Reasons why I enjoyed this novel: -possible hate to love trope -women being liberated from their oppressive societies and expectations (politically, sexually, etc) -women POV of different age ranges (18-40+) -discussion of different types of women oppression in different cultures within this fantasy world. -the most oppressive culture was described as having fair or pale skin with blonde hair which was quite refreshing; typically these cultures are always depicted by POC cultures or parallel w/ our Western view of Middle Eastern cultures. Reasons why I didn't enjoy this novel: -the feminism/misogyny was too heavy handed for my liking. Things were typically either overtly feminine or overtly masculine. -character's behaviors were inconsistent. For example, a character that is shown being hot-tempered, misogynistic, abusive, and self-serving "feels bad" for taking some relatives captive. Only later to (view spoiler)[ behead one of them out of spite for their mother that he hates (hide spoiler)] -world building was inconsistent as well: you are constantly reminded that men are disgusted w/ women using magic or holding any type of power especially politically. However, almost every male character that was introduced to us had no issues w/ supporting their female counterparts. I'm not saying that every male character had to hate women and wouldn't have progressive views in this society, but the fact that most of the characters had no issue whatsoever with the women taking power felt manufactured and convenient, -fade to black sex scenes; I am not asking for full blown erotica, but this is an adult novel so please don't leave me hanging!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: The Women’s War Author: Jenna Glass Publisher: Random House/Del Rey Publication Date: March 5, 2019 Review Date: March 3, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a very long book, 545 pages. It is a combination of genres. It is fantasy, with a very different and interesting take of how magic and spells are created. It is also about a world that is very patriarchal and women-hating. There are several plot lines running at the same t Book Review: The Women’s War Author: Jenna Glass Publisher: Random House/Del Rey Publication Date: March 5, 2019 Review Date: March 3, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a very long book, 545 pages. It is a combination of genres. It is fantasy, with a very different and interesting take of how magic and spells are created. It is also about a world that is very patriarchal and women-hating. There are several plot lines running at the same time, with multiple protagonists and stories that merge in and out with one another. This is a fantastic book, if you like fantasy and books about magic. The intensity of the animosity between men and women is a bit much to read. Without spoiling too much of the plot, one of the story lines is how some women used their magic and created some life-altering spells, aimed at reducing men’s power. The characters are very well done, especially as it’s such a long book, and they have enough time to develop. The plot is masterful, given how man protagonist and story lines are running, and converging. The language is not exceptionally beautiful, but I wouldn’t expect it to be with this kind of story. I highly recommend this book, if you have the time to invest in reading it. It is a grand adventure in a fascinating world. 5 Stars! Thank you to Random House for giving me an early book at this wonderful book. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. #netgalley #thewomenswar #jennaglass #randomhouse

  26. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    This is a very three star book, and that's in no way a bad thing. It's an amazingly detailed epic with a feminist bent. It's heavy on political maneuvering on all sides. It doesn't pull its punches in any way. The magic, the worldbuilding, the characters, are all extremely well drawn. It's a dense book, and a smart book, and it's not something that can just be torn through. I enjoyed it. Some people will like it a lot more than I did, some will hate it, but I would be very surprised if anyone cl This is a very three star book, and that's in no way a bad thing. It's an amazingly detailed epic with a feminist bent. It's heavy on political maneuvering on all sides. It doesn't pull its punches in any way. The magic, the worldbuilding, the characters, are all extremely well drawn. It's a dense book, and a smart book, and it's not something that can just be torn through. I enjoyed it. Some people will like it a lot more than I did, some will hate it, but I would be very surprised if anyone claimed it was poorly written, boring, or a misfire. Jenna Glass has written a masterpiece for both the feminist and fantasy genres, and it will no doubt find an audience who has been desperate for it. I received an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nichole

    The Women's War is set in a time when a woman's only importance is to produce an heir. Men are the magic users. Men have all the power. Three women decide to change that. Even if means their deaths. I loved this book. I went back and forth between 4 and 5 stars, but even if I'm in the minority, I felt it deserved the 5. A fantasy where the women rise up and take a stand? I'm in! I love political intrigue in fantasy, and this book has plenty. I thought the magic system was unique and interesting. A The Women's War is set in a time when a woman's only importance is to produce an heir. Men are the magic users. Men have all the power. Three women decide to change that. Even if means their deaths. I loved this book. I went back and forth between 4 and 5 stars, but even if I'm in the minority, I felt it deserved the 5. A fantasy where the women rise up and take a stand? I'm in! I love political intrigue in fantasy, and this book has plenty. I thought the magic system was unique and interesting. And I loved the characters! Quite a few trigger warnings, but it makes their fight even more important. I am excited to read more in this series. I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Beautifully written book, great idea, but it's a case of... lopsided execution, maybe? I will write a longer review later... Beautifully written book, great idea, but it's a case of... lopsided execution, maybe? I will write a longer review later...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Desireé

    4.5 stars. This is a book I really needed. It starts with the extreme oppression of women, but the GROWTH of the female characters in this story was phenomenal! They all begin very much accepting of their lots in life - whether that be as nothing but baby-makers for their husbands, devices of pleasure of men, or just second-class citizens - but once the spell hits and its affects are felt, they all slowly break out of the roles they are put into and begin to rebel. Watching them come into their o 4.5 stars. This is a book I really needed. It starts with the extreme oppression of women, but the GROWTH of the female characters in this story was phenomenal! They all begin very much accepting of their lots in life - whether that be as nothing but baby-makers for their husbands, devices of pleasure of men, or just second-class citizens - but once the spell hits and its affects are felt, they all slowly break out of the roles they are put into and begin to rebel. Watching them come into their own and develop was wonderful. I also loved the unique magic system and I can't wait to read more about it in the sequel. The story is quite slow but I actually enjoyed the pace. There is very little action and it mostly centers around relationships between characters and their individual growth, and there is very little romance (which was the best!). The only reason I didn't give The Women's War 5 stars was because of the writing. A lot of it was quite repetitive and seemed like one more round of editing would have done it some good. Like, I get trying to emphasize a point, but telling the reader again and again over the next few pages seems redundant. Overall though, I really enjoyed it and will be waiting anxiously for the sequel because that ending...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    This book took me a while to get through. It’s over 500 pages and while I really enjoyed it, it was rather slow pace. Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt this book because you really should. It just sets this up for an epic sequel that I can’t wait to get my hands on. This was such a unique take on fantasy magic and the typical patriarchy of the Victorian/Renaissance Era. I developed such a great respect for some of the characters and enjoyed how powerful they can be (or will become This book took me a while to get through. It’s over 500 pages and while I really enjoyed it, it was rather slow pace. Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt this book because you really should. It just sets this up for an epic sequel that I can’t wait to get my hands on. This was such a unique take on fantasy magic and the typical patriarchy of the Victorian/Renaissance Era. I developed such a great respect for some of the characters and enjoyed how powerful they can be (or will become!) There were some very realistic features that make you not like some characters but also fall in love with others. This book was not a romantic fantasy. This book set very much emphasis on the political and magical takes that created this novel. Women are taking a stand and not putting up with the crap anymore and that’s what I love. It’s dangerous thing to do but with magic on their side they are fearless! Okay, I shouldn’t say fearless because there is always something or someone you fear for but those relations make them stronger and fight harder for the right things in their life. Women are finally having a choice in their own destiny and what makes this more epic is that it is set farther back in the past where women had ultimately no choice or say in anything. The Women’s War truly can empower women. It was provocative, invigorating, inspirational, and daunting. Each character is so well developed they practically jump off the page. I can’t wait for the next book. I feel like the slow pace of this really sets it up for an epic sequel. I mean the ending of this one had me at the edge of my seat. Thank you to Netgalley and Del Rey books for allowing me this amazing adventure to review! Until Next Time, DauntlessReading

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