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5.0 out of 5 stars First Action Heroin?!, 8 July 2011
This review is from: Black Gods Kiss (Planet Stories Library) (Paperback)
At the very outset it needs to be stated that I don't agree with all those who had thought that they were doing C.L.Moore and her fantastic creation a service by mentally comparing her with Conan the Cimmerian. No, Jirel of Joiry is not a "Gal Conan", she is a lot more than that or any other Red Sonja types currently flooding the fantasy market. She is closer to Kull of Atlantis in sombriety and credibility. Her physical strength has limits, she knows fear and acknowledges its presence in the periphery of her landscape, but most importantly: she neither tries to hide her feminine identity, nor does she try to exploit it unnecessarily. She is haughty, vengeful, impulsive, but she is a human being who tries to be the sole determinant of her own destiny. These stories, written at least 70 years ago, are documentary evidence of the presence of such a realistic heroine in the pulps at a time when they were despised as little more than "boyish" fantasies.

Jirel is the ruler of the medieval French principality of Joiry at a time dominated by warlords and wizards. Six of her adventures (unfortunately that's all) are collected in this slim volume publoshed by Paizo Books in a nice format. These stories are:

1. "Black God's Kiss": After her kingdom is overran by a cruel antagonist, Jirel explores a land of evil & sorrow (accessible through a forbidden route under her castle) in search of a weapon that would avenge her humiliation at the hands of the antagonist.
2. "Black God's Shadow": Jirel's remorse for the extreme punishment effected upon the antagonist in the 1st tale forces her to return to her unique hell where she breaks an evil spell for ever.
3. "Jirel Meets Magic": After the dark and forebodingly Freudian descriptions in the first two stoies, this tale is simply Tolkienesque as Jirel crosses over to another state in search of a fugitive wizard and comes across a witch with ultimate powers.
4. "The Dark Land": This hauntingly beautiful and yet terrifying tale forces Jirel as well us to question ourselves about love.
5. "Hellsgarde": This straight-forward horror story (as well as Gothic romance) was a fun read after the oppressive first stories.
6. "Quest of the Starstone": This is obviously a product of popular choice as the author brings together two of her most famous creations in a simple plot leading to Jirel being relegated to the second-best position by North Wset Smith.

All-in-all, I heartly recommend this book to not only the readers of rip-roaring adventures, pulps, horror stories, etc. but also to those interested in the female heroines and their role-models.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jiriel of Joiry stories, 20 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Black Gods Kiss (Planet Stories Library) (Paperback)
Always lovely to re-visit old favourites! A female hero in a world of chest-beating male heros - definitely challenged my thought processes as a teenager!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric pulp fantasy, 20 Oct 2011
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John Middleton (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Gods Kiss (Planet Stories Library) (Paperback)
C.L. Moore was perhaps the first female writer of "sword and sorcery", with her 1930's tales of heroine Jirel of Joiry. They are better classifed as "weird tales" - the name of the magazine in which they were published - full of evocative description rather than brutal action. This collection is the 6 Jirel tales, plus a crossover adventure in which Jirel meets Northwest Smith, Moore's other protagonist of 1930's weird tales, which was co-written with husband to be Henry Kuttner.

Jirel is a warrior woman, a redhead striking rather than beautiful, capable with a sword and strong willed. To an extent however, the adventures happen around Jirel rather than to her: Moore's lush prose swirls around the reader and drags one in, and it is the descriptions and locations rather than the characters that truly drive the story.

Like Northwest of Earth, this book is not best read in a single sitting, but instead simply reading one tale at a time. Take a week or a month to finish the book. Moore's writing is rich enough to require a little time to settle in for best effect. Some of the visuals here are unforgettable, and the prose - while purple - is superbly polished.
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Black Gods Kiss (Planet Stories Library)
Black Gods Kiss (Planet Stories Library) by C.L. Moore (Paperback - 13 Nov 2007)
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