Genre: fantasy – sword and sorcery
Queer Representation: cis lesbian
Warnings: implied rape threats
Kyri is a journey(wo)man fletcher, trained by her master father in the ways of making and using archery equipment. Her skill is unmatched, not that anyone in the kingdom cares, since Kyri is just a woman. When her father falls ill, Kyri sets out to gain her own mastership, since she legally cannot inherit her father’s holdings.
The start of her journey ends badly. She stumbles upon a lone woman being attacked by the king’s men.
“I told you, my name is Shana. I’m a member of the Telequire Amazon tribe, and I’m traveling to visit another tribe in order to pass news of our new queen.”
The patrol leader laughed, joined by his comrades. “Amazon, huh? There are no such things as Amazons! All I see is a woman alone, carrying a sword. Women are not allowed to carry weapons of war in our kingdom.”
She is outmatched, so Kyri helps defend her. In doing so she marks herself as an outcast from her kingdom, but is welcomed with open arms to the Amazons. (trope! take a drink!)
The rest of the book follows Kyri as she learns about her uncanny skills and rises through the ranks of the Amazons, finding love, and a bit of magic, along the way.
If you’re in the mood for a straightforward trope fantasy ala Xena Warrior Princess, THE FLETCHER will satisfy your craving. The cover is gorgeous (thank god, as lesfic is known for its terrible covers), the prose straightforward, and the story, stock. Kyri is a likably naive protagonist, with the standard Chosen One trope and the ‘too good to be true’ skill set (archery). Her journey is worn but comforting, her love interest apparent, good-natured, and the romance pacing appropriate for the length of the book. The secondary characters are surprisingly round and engaging, and while Kyri’s journey felt a bit wandery to me, her time with the Amazons more than made up for it with the various hot tub scenes(!).
It’s a trope-filled, comfortable book. I had very few quibbles, the main one being the description of the bow with the multicolored wood grain, but I realize my background in woodworking makes me far more nitpicking about this than most.
“The only thing to it is patience. You have to paint each grain with a different dye and keep repeating until enough soaks in to make it bright. Then I have to go over the entire thing with olive oil, and lastly, a layer of wax.”
For the record, this would not make a colorfast bow. A bit later a bow is mentioned to be ‘springy’ and made from Madagascar rosewood, which a good wood choice and well explained, so I’m willing to let the wood dye thing go. Though I really hope the cedar chip joke was done deliberately, because it is ~chef’s kiss~
(in this scene, they’re talking about a small animal having fallen asleep on a bed of cedar shavings. The smell of cedar is a toxic aromatic extractive that causes sleepiness and, in some small mammals, death)
I smiled. “No, those are chips of cedars wood. My man always used it on our bedding to keep pests away. I sprinkle some all around my hut and on my bedding. It seems to be working so far.”
So, come for the cover and the tropes, stay for the hot tub romance and mostly accurate wood portrayals. THE FLETCHER is an easy, quick read that will give you that Xena flavor, without all the maddening subtext that never goes anywhere. Also, hot springs.
Grab your bow and arrow and try to beat Kyri in a duel by purchasing the book here.