In my own writing, I try to remember this quote I’ve seen regularly on Tumblr:
Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people.
–via MadLori on Tumblr
In Elizabeth Hunter’s fantastic Elemental Mysteries series, my favorite character (sorry B) is Tenzin. And part of what I adore about this character is that she’s a legend, even, strangely enough, to those characters who know her. She’s larger than life. Feared. When Tenzin walks (or flies, as the case may be) into a scene, every character stands up and takes notice.
And I find myself doing the same.
It would be easy for someone like Tenzin to become a cardboard cutout, <insert asskicking female here> type of character. But she never feels that way. Her relationship with B (the main character in the series), as well as her actions in books three and four make it very clear that Tenzin is a multi-faceted, complicated woman, that as terrifying as she is, there’s tenderness there. It’s often buried so deeply it seems non-existent. But it’s there, and that, more than her strength and ferocity, is why I love Tenzin.
So when Elizabeth Hunter announced that she was working on writing Tenzin’s origin story, I was honestly beside myself with excitement. I knew already (based on the bit of backstory we already knew about her) that Tenzin’s history was a dark one. And through the writing, Hunter mentioned several times that it was dark, depressing. Draining.
It was all of that, for me as a reader. And it was exactly what it needed to be.
My Review of The Bronze Blade
If you are already a fan of Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries, you will develop more of an appreciation for Tenzin, without a doubt. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself angry, maybe on the verge of tears. I had such a visceral reaction to this book, and I don’t know if it’s because I feel such a connection to Tenzin’s character, or if it’s just because Hunter is that damn good at creating a world that draws you into its depths. I have the feeling it’s both.
The Bronze Blade is not an easy read. It’s not a fast read. I’m someone who can sit and read happily for hours, but I had to take a few breaks in the reading of this book.
That is not a bad thing.
This book is full of darkness and violence. Abuse. Loss. Desperation. It stays with you. I found myself envisioning a few of the scenes long after I had finished reading. And, knowing what I know now, I know I’ll now look at every action Tenzin takes, as well as the ones she doesn’t take, in a new light.
I was lucky to receive an ARC of this book from Hunter, so it just made it into my 2013 reading list. As such, I can easily say that The Bronze Blade is one of my favorite books of 2013. Elemental Mysteries fans: this is a definite must-read.
The Bronze Blade is currently exclusively available as part of a fantastic bundled deal, which includes all four Elemental Mysteries books, as well as The Bronze Blade novella. You can buy it now on Amazon ~ Smashwords ~ Barnes and Noble