As usual, I decided to procrastinate from packing and decided to read Steel (Young Adult Fantasy, 294 pages) by Carrie Vaughn instead of packing for my upcoming extended research trip. I enjoyed this book, as I tend to with most of Vaughn‘s work and I’m glad I had a chance to pick it up before I left.
I think this story is a fascinating look at the difference between sword fighting for fun and sword fighting when real injuries are likely. There probably aren’t that many people who could vouch either way for whether this is an accurate representation of the differences, but I think it as done quite well. You always get those who absolutely insist that they know how things work because they’re part of clubs or they take lessons, but I think it’s truer by far to say that there are very few who would know for sure, and those that would know probably wouldn’t say anything about it.
There were a couple places in the story where I felt like there might be an ending similar to the Scyfy Channel’s newest rendition of Alice in Wonderland where everything revolved around the Mad Hatter and then Alice leaves Wonderland only to find that she loves him and he followed her. But thankfully, that’s not done here. We only get a small taste of the potential feelings developing between Jill and Henry and Henry, or a Henry-esque character, doesn’t show up at the end of the story. Instead, we get more of a sense that Jill has found a focus for her life and it doesn’t revolve around a guy that she met. I think that’s rare in a lot of books that have romantic elements. Most romance stories that I’ve encountered end with the female protagonist completely forgetting that they are a person all by themselves without being dependent on the boyfriend or other male in their life. Don’t get me wrong – the romantic element in this story was remarkably short and not really the main focus of the story, but it was there and I felt like commenting about it.
I also think this did a great job of showing how spoiled we’ve become in our society today and how I believe many of us could do with a bit of a perspective change. I especially like the portion involving the ships for slave trade and how deeply that affected Jill. That’s a very humbling lesson to learn. Jill holds up very well with her changed situation in life and I was happy to see that nothing too horrific like rape happened to her, but you would think that in that era, it would have been a very real threat.
Overall, this was a good story and I’m glad I bought it, even though I enjoyed Voices of Dragons better, but that’s mostly just because I like dragons 🙂