Author's attitude on women
The author has women used and raped every which way in this book. While I found much of what he portrayed realistic, this always struck me as a bit over the top and some prejudicial thinking on the author's part.
The idea that rapes, along with other violence, will go up when society blacks out seems to me to be a logical one. However, you notice no men were raped, no other sexual taboos were left at the wayside (men with multiple wives, homosexuality, the only thing close to a harem was held by chains and violence, and so on) and he, in fact, stringently held to the one man-one woman ratio unless people were getting hurt.
And I swear I never once read about the female victims fighting back or making escape attempts, or of victimized and non-victimized women banding together in the wild either for protection or in an attempt to protect other women and/or "get back" at the men who hurt them, nothing. Women were either protected or victimized all the way through.
Well, except for one, but she was special because she might just be magic.
Was I the ONLY one who found his scenarios involving women one sided, often short sighted, and sometimes even implausible? (And I say this even though I very much enjoyed the book, mind.)
i have to disagree. i found the women to be strong, central characters who get stronger and more empowered as the series goes on. by book #4 all of the rulers are women, and most of them don't just fight alongside their men - they lead them into battle.
if anything, there are a lot of comments on society throughout this book of women having to take charge and stop being victims. the point of this whole series is what happens when society breaks down? there is no law to protect people. people had to learn to live and die by their own hands.
I won't disagree with this. I will say, though, that Stirling's aware of this criticism, and his writing is developing a self awareness that is both ironic and insightful. I recommend you read "In The Courts of the Crimson Kings" when it comes out. Very interesting what he does with a straight up adventure sf plot. The men aren't always men in that one.
I am very much looking forward to _In The Court..._. Just finished _The Sunrise Lands_, just recieved _Iron and Gold_. Stirling's writing started to 'break out', IMO, in the late 90s. Prior to that, with the notable exception of his collaborations with Pournelle, I have 'tested' his earlier works, found them unremarkable, and not followed through. However, I have read literally everything he has published in the last 10 years, and hopes he continues to develop his 'self awareness', as you describe it.
Never even thought about it, but as you bring it up I tried to do a little research into if there has been any historical references to women banding together either as victims or for protection without having support from men. The only things I could think of offhand are Nuns & the mythical Amazons and the Greek isle of Lesbos of course (after reading about it more is Just the birthplace of the poet Sappho and really has nothing to do with women banding together in defence!). There are many occurences of single women or a couple of women in history at times leading men in battle, but never just groups of women together. Could it happen today? I don't know, that is just how Stirling envisioned it and has Historical backing.
I would look to medieval times maybe somewhere around or before the 30 years war in Europe around 1630's to see how women were treated then for a reference if I was writing this book. It seems to me that Stirling went above and beyond to make women powerful figures in this book. And the book is better for it.
Women in history have mostly worked behind the scenes except in extraordinary circumstances. Only recently (shoot, the 19th amendment wasn't signed until 1920) in the last 80 years have women claimed more independence from men. Guns have also become a great equalizer, in this book strength of arm is the major player. Although ingenuity and skill (mostly provided by women if you remember) play a major factor.