In Book Appreciation with Heather Rose Jones (Episode 40c) we talk about favorite books with queer female characters in a historic setting.
Listen to this episode here.
In this episode we talk about:
The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher
A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell
The Hounds of Justice by Claire O’Dell
A Jewel-Bright Sea by Claire O’Dell
Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff
A transcript of this podcast is pending.
Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online
Transcript for Today’s Show
Please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.
the lesbian historic motif podcast is brought to you by Heather Rose Jones under the tilt podcast group we look at lesbian relevant themes in history and literature and talked about current historical fiction with queer female characters including fantastic versions of the past we feature interviews with authors and readers and in months when we have a fifth show we’re proud to present new original historical fiction for your enjoyment so this week heavy rose Jones returns to talk about some of her favorite historical fiction novels featuring with strong women characters I want to talk about two specific books that fall in the historic fantasy genre in general like my own series one of them is a book I mentioned in last week’s show which is Ellen Kushner’s the privilege of the sword book I that book rocked my world when it first came out I read it I was blown away I had my heart broken I was so blown away by it that I needed to not read it for a while again it took me I think about a decade before I went back and reread it so for those who don’t know the privilege of the sword is set in Ellen Kushner’s Riverside world which is it’s entirely secondary world fantasy but the world is very evocative of old world Europe I always got a feel that it’s sort of 18th century ish and very French ish but the names are kind of all over the map and it’s not specifically tied to any particular time in place but is full of scheming aristocrats and political intrigues and daring sword swordsmen and the specific book I’m talking about the privilege of the sword is about the man Duke’s niece who he invites to the city to as a reconciliation with her grant to the family and she thinks she’s going in to be presented to society and you know balls and dresses and and parties and all that and instead he puts her in boys clothing and makes her learn to be a duelist you can see certain echoing themes that ended up in my own work here and she really falls into the whole romance of being someone’s champion idea she makes friends with another young woman who is you know assaulted by her fiancee by the other woman’s fiancé and our heroine calls out the the assaulter and has his champion you know it’s all it’s wonderful and adventurous and there is a theme running through it that she is discovering her attraction to women both in terms of this very passionate friendship with this other young woman and she definitely lusts after an actress that she meets at some point and then just caught at my my imagination my heart my soul other parts of my body and I so wanted it to be the story of the daring girls who save each other and fall in love and at the end of the book they haven’t at the end of the book the heroine is comes into her own she is close friends with a woman that she fought the duel for but they are not obviously romantically involved there is one erotic scene in the book but it’s with boy and and I came out of it saying it’s like you came so close you came so close you were almost the book of my heart and that’s why it took me a long time to come back to rereading it and part of that was I needed the distance to be able to read the book for what it was and not for what I wanted it to be and that is always so hard and it’s so unfair to the author yes and the other thing was during that decade I wrote daughter of mystery and I needed to not go back and read the privilege of the sword until daughter misty was done finished signed sealed and delivered not because I was worried about being influenced or anything but because I needed that closure I needed to have written the book that I wanted it to have been so I could go back and appreciate privilege of the sword for what it was and I did this thing in my blog where before I did the reread I wrote the review of the book I remembered in the I wanted it to be hmm and then I reread it and then I wrote the review from that point of view uh it’s you know I was able to see it a lot more clearly and on the reread you know it was much more clear to me that that Katherine the protagonist was in fact solidly bisexual and that this was not a betrayal of who she was meant to be it was you know this is the character that she is this is the story that should have been told about her and and it’s okay that’s also okay because I couldn’t have done that well it’s been a while since I’ve read I read it and then the other one swords point yeah source point is the one about Alec and they’re gay yes so there’s a gay element too yes so that was Ken it was fun to hear that too and that’s when I get the impression that the wild success of that book was why she felt able to write a book you know with a queer female character because I mean when did George Point come out this was back in it’s gotta be fifteen years at least yeah a while ago and and it was very much a new thing back then right not that queer people were new but you know getting getting mainstream book contracts for writing fantasy about gay men was new so the the other book I wanted to talk about also has a not not so much a real world historical setting but a historically inspired setting and that is taking fishers the Raven and the reindeer which is so Tiki Fisher is Ursula Vernon when she’s not writing children’s books what is it what’s the book the Raven Raven and the reindeer it is a retelling to some extent of Anderson’s The Snow Queen okay except in this one Goethe and the robber girl fall in love and there’s this wonderful line somewhere in it where Goethe is thinking to herself it’s like nobody told me that you can kiss girls no this was a thing it’s like oh it’s so wonderful but it’s the reason I love that book is not simply that the central story involves two girls going on adventures and falling in love in the process but because okay Ursula Vernon writes oddball characters and she writes animal characters so well and the titular Raven and the reindeer our characters are the major characters in the book the Raven is a talking Raven and it is so raven like that you believe their fragrance could talk this is exactly what they’d say and the sorts of things that they talk about and the reindeer comes into it there’s a sort of a spoiler to think about the reindeer but but again there is a reindeer character that is just very reindeer II and does it also talk and then there are some other animal characters in the process but they they go on this adventure they go on this quest Derrida goes on a quest to rescue her childhood sweetheart what’s-his-face he’s forgettable problem because Snow Queen and discovers in the end of it maybe she didn’t need to do that you know maybe maybe she was mistaken about him all along and then she was happily ever after with with her rubber girl in the end it’s a fairy tale it’s a quest adventure it’s sort of young adult ish and feel but but not in a not in a genre way but just in the in a sort of a look and feel way and it is one of the core set of books that convinced me that I am willing to try anything that Ursula Vernon writes and I have not always liked all of her books but that one when when I tweeted immediately after finishing reading the Raven and the reindeer I believe the phrase was I love this book with the blazing fire of a thousand suns and that had been my model ever since you know that is what even if I am losing some of the details what I loved about it what I remember it hit me that hard yeah and hey queer girls having adventures in wetland fasting right and with raindeers rhythms so TK t kingfisher TK it is also ursula yes awesome and she writes fabulous mythos stories you can answer own sort of American folk tale mythos that she has a number of books set in and and it’s just she’s wonderful you know it’s always really dangerous to spend any time with you other because I always come away with at least three books that I need to read and now you’ve given me a whole podcast group relies on support the support of you our listeners the support of those who like and review our show on their favorite podcast app the support of our patrons on patreon and the support of our sponsors we hope you’ll continue to enjoy and support tilt how did you how did you find how did you discover the Raven in the reindeer I think by then I was already following Ursula on Twitter which her Twitter she does a thing of joy and a delight and chickens chickens and recently some yaks and it just she’s laughing hmm is she live in Lapland oh she lives in the American South oh yeah she is a character in her own story and you just need to like awesome ki ki an awesome but yeah and how did you discover um privilege of the sword I think I had red swords point first and that was back in the days when you heard about books by going to science fiction conventions rather than by hearing about them through social media it’s so I mean I read swordspoint when it first came out and I snapped up privilege of the sword you know the moment it hit the other change of Hobbit shelves not mine – for sure so that was back in the days when you know book discoverability was he walked in the door of a bookstore and you said hey Tom what’s the new books that I would like and he tells you and you do what a day Tom Tom turned us on to we’re talking about Tom Whitmore who was one of the co-owners of the other change of Hobbit which was a wonderful bookstore in Berkeley but yeah he turned Peggy and I on to Mercedes Lackey mm-hm her oath bound yep you know series which I was convinced we slurped those three books up and loved them and then one day scrolling through the television we see these two characters ride by and we’re like oh look at its term and Caffrey no it was Xena and Gabrielle [Laughter] yeah rest is history with that but yeah I think he probably put privilege of the sword in my hand or if not caught my eye because it was a girl with the sword on the cover yeah and that was how I used to discover books I would you know wandering the bookstore about once every couple of weeks and look at the rack of you know recent releases and and buy more books than I could possibly read absolutely are there um so this is an author that you follow this T King Fisher and Ursula Vernon do you have any other authors that whose books you might buy sight unseen just because they wrote the book oh absolutely I am a major fan of Beth burr no bitches fantasy stories she’s writing now under Claire O’Dell and I have reviewed a lot of her books on my blog so just check them out her current series is definitely not my usual thing it’s a near-future post-apocalyptic thrillers inspired by Sherlock Holmes and dr. Watson oh they turned into queer black women Wow yeah that’s a lot Wow that’s the hit a little bit too close to home she had to rewrite bits of the first book after Trump got elected because suddenly indeed to be more fictional right but she also has a series from when when she was writing under her her actual name previously that is said in this alternate world the the titles are coming to me out of order but Queens font is one and and there’s a new one from that series that is just about to come out the jewel bright sea which these are all linked together because in this world you reincarnate um and you sort of follow people you have connections to through time oh except you’re not always synchronized with each other but then on top of that it’s like you know politics and intrigue and adventures and and fun and that and pretty much anything she writes I will buy because even when they are in John Roos that I’m not usually a fan of I know I will enjoy it who else another author that I have really been enjoying queer books from is catherine lund off who only has sold two stories to my audio fiction series I don’t read everything of hers because she writes she writes horror she writes erotica and some other things that that are just not my thing I think I grabbed by one or two of her books because you gave them rave reviews yes sounds familiar when she hits the genres that I like I love what she does yes and of course you know of course you could tell I love her writing because I buy it for my god right you know I worry that I am gonna forget somebody because I’m not really good at coming up with people off the top of mine now yeah I kind of threw that but it’s I’m always curious yeah but when I actually want to make lists of authors I love I go through my reviews and my database database of course so I’ll leave it at that and say and there are many and other authors that I desperately love and will buy immediately it sight unseen I just well so Heather thank you so much for taking the time to share your tap historical books with us well thank you so much for inviting me to be on my own show it was a delight [Music] I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the lesbian historic motif podcast see the show notes for links to people and topics most shows will have a transcript linked as well if you have a book announcement a topic suggestion or might like to appear on the show please drop me an email if you enjoyed this podcast please rate it and subscribe on your favorite podcast app and consider supporting our patreon