cover image The Warrior Who Carried Life

The Warrior Who Carried Life

Geoff Ryman. ChiZine (Diamond, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-927469-38-5

A fantasy revenge quest develops into a mythic exploration of life and death in Ryman’s vivid debut, originally published in 1985. Cal Cara Kerig was five-years-old when her mother was brutally killed for unlawfully prophesying horrors to come. Fifteen years later, those horrors arrive in the form of the Galu, a vicious people whose leader tortures Cara and her remaining relatives. Cara uses a secret magic that grants her the body of a male warrior for a year—but revenge turns out to be the least of what she is fated to accomplish. The first third of Cara’s adventure is sharp, engaging, and unflinching in its portrayal of the cruelties of war, and it features a nuanced and fascinating exploration of gender roles and identity. Unfortunately, what seems at first like an original mythology turns out to be a retelling of Genesis (albeit an effectively subversive one), and the narrative makes a poor trade of character development and cohesion for overdramatized mythic resonance and epic scope. (Apr.)