Wednesday, March 18, 2009


By Charles R. Saunders

Charles Saunders
has a knack for creating unusual Sword & Sorcery heroes. How many African Amazons who are simultaneously sword-swinging brawlers and spiritual warriors are there?

Collected for the first time Dossouye brings together all the adventures of this unlikely heroine. We first meet her in an epic battle to save both her nation and her soul from demonic forces. It’s a classic good v. evil tale with lots of action. But from there Dossouye’s style takes a sharp turn.

Most of the Dossouye stories are set in an African-Gothic jungle. Dossouye battles not so much demons, but the part of the human heart that craves them. She does not engage in the wild-and-wooly intrigues of mercenaries and wizards among the mighty. Saunders even alludes to his unusual choice of setting and its effect on the hero he has created:

Her initial intention to sell the services of her sword in the other kingdoms that ringed the Gulf of Ubengi after she had departed Abomey had proved short-lived; it was as though the forest had entangled her like a spider’s web refusing to let her go.

Dossouye might easily be read as feminist-fantasy, throwing off the shackles of oppressive tradition. What gives these stories a depth that sets them apart from simplistic PC moralizing. Tradition exists for a reason Saunders reminds us and do-gooders must be sure they are truly doing good. If you like Sword & Sorcery, you may want to try out Saunders’ unique Sword & Soul.

-Dave Hardy

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