Sunday, December 18, 2016

Book Review: Jirel of Joiry

Book Review: 'Jirel of Joiry' by C. L. Moore

2 / 5 Stars

'Jirel of Joiry' (212 pp) was published by Ace Books in November 1982. The cover artist is Stephen Hickman.

This paperback compiles five Jirel stories that first were published in 1934 - 1939 in Weird Tales.

Joirel of Joiry was arguably the forerunner for the female sword and sorcery heroine genre, although none of these stories introduce anything like the 'chick in chain mail bikini' imagery that defines the modern version of the genre.

The stories are set in Medieval France, where Jirel is a kind of secular Joan of Arc, albeit a Joan of Arc with an aggressive streak; Jirel has no hesitation about hacking away at those petty princelings and warlords infesting her country.

In these stories, author Moore focuses less on furious action, and more on elaborate phantasmagorical and supernatural encounters. The lead character often finds herself traversing other dimensions, where she has life-or-death contests with various malevolent sorcerers and mages. While not disclosing any spoilers, I will reveal that some of these locales and adversaries are of a Lovecraftian flavor.

Moore's prose style is very pulp-centered; although her prose can be quite atmospheric, many passages overdose on adjectives and adverbs, and can be tedious to read. 

Summing up, while the Jirel stories have their historical value in terms of the Pulp canon, I doubt that modern readers will find these stories to be as entertaining as those of Robert E. Howard.

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