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The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War
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The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War (Medieval Women Boxset)

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,934 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Antonia Fraser's Warrior Queens are those women who have both ruled and led in war. They include Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I, Isabella of Spain, the Rani of Jhansi, and the formidable Queen Jinga of Angola. With Boadicea as the definitive example, her female champions from other ages and civilisations make a fascinating and awesome assembly. Yet if Boadicea's apocryph ...more
Hardcover, 383 pages
Published March 4th 1989 by Knopf (first published January 1st 1988)
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Jul 22, 2015 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I stopped reading this book after 233 pages (about 2/3 finished) because life is too short to read bad books. This is only the second book in the last 8 years I have failed to finish without plans to try again.

The first few chapters are dry analysis of what it means to be a "Warrior Queen", and it doesn't pick up pace until 1/3 of the way into the book. Then it tries to tell the stories of these Warrior Queens with a chapter apiece, but the author insists on comparing everybody to Boadicea (bot
Athena Ninlil
An account of all the warrior women who left their mark on history and why some were successful and others weren't. The warrior queens who earned their reputation as fearsome and holy were only because they evoked popular sentiment of unity and religion, and perpetuated the stereotype of the "weak and feeble woman" (Elizabeth) and feminine virtues of chastity, homeliness (Golda Meyer, Louise of Prussia, Queen Tamara of Georgia,etc) and religious fervor (Isabel before she was married and after sh ...more
Carol Storm
WARRIOR QUEENS is okay, but Lady Antonia obviously likes the modern queens more than the ancient ones. She spends as much time on parades and pageantry in the 19th century, where "symbolic" warrior queens just bless the troops and appear in very becoming but only sort-of military poses, as she does on actual fighting women in the ancient world, like Boudica of England.

It's also noticeable that with Boudica Lady Antonia plays down the bloody war and butchery and plays up the Roman era that came
I finished this book and exhaled loudly while screaming FINALLY! Finally it is over. I am stubborn and when I hit the halfway point, I refused to quit. But, good God, this book is dry. And long. My brain felt like a glazed donut when I read more than 30 pages in a sitting. Maybe I am just not bright enough to appreciate it.

But I'm giving it three stars for a few reasons: 1) I now know about Caterina Sforza taunting soldiers who were about to kill her children by lifting her skirt to show her pre
Rebecca Grace
Couldn't resist this one, what with all the gender & power issues swirling around Hillary Clinton's bid for President. Also must read anything given a thumbs-up by Margaret Atwood because she is an absolute literary goddess a mon avis... But in the end I felt that Fraser attempted to cover too much ground between the covers of this book. I would have appreciated reading about fewer subject but in greater depth. Also, as a non-Brit, I was not previously familiar with the story of Boadiccea an ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Yasmin rated it it was ok
It was an okay book but I have to say the author's continous usage of "syndrome" did make one think that there was something wrong with the women! Also a little too much of "warrior" women in the European world and not so much with other countries. I guess in the 80s her research was limited but even so there must have been other women known then like Nurjahan during the Mughual period of India and I can't believe there was only one queen to cite in Africa! And I didn't have that much interest i ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book but not enough detail for me. I wanted more information on each woman, but at least it gives an overview of several women from history.
Sarah Finch
Mar 22, 2012 Sarah Finch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful books I have read in a long while. Using Boudica (Boadicea) as her starting point, Antonia Fraser traces a loose chronology of "warrior queens" from Zenobia to Queen Isabella to Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi. The final chapter or two on Margaret Thatcher is particularly insightful. Along the way she discusses how sexuality, maternity, and religion have shaped the conversations surrounding these women for generations, as well as the Appendage Synd ...more
Kelly Grossmann
Sep 07, 2010 Kelly Grossmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The beginning was terribly slow for me, but once it picked up I couldn't put it down. I think I was thrown off in the beginning because she kept saying that this book was a study of Warrior Queens. The first 3 chapters read like a text book to me. Boring! But once the book started flowing, and each chapter was a different Warrior Queen, I really enjoyed it. It also gave me lots of women to try to find books on and maybe learn even more about these remarkable Warrior Q ...more
I really enjoyed reading this. It examined how the tropes and misogynistic criticisms that were applied to women in power in the past, even the very distant past, are still applied to women in power today. I'd always wanted to know more about Boudica and Fraser used her as a model to compare the other Warrior Queens to, mostly to compare how they were perceived and described, and the situations in which they came to power. She also made sure to note how Boudica herself was perceived, or forgotte ...more
Rather esoteric and scholarly for those who might be more used to a more accessible and popular form of writing about historical figures as has become the prevalent style more recently. To be fair, the title should be more along the lines of "A history of Boudica and the legend of Boadicea (and some subsequent Warrior Queens and how they relate to her)". The title gives the impression of a series of profiles, probably with comparisons drawn, but to have the whole book revolve around one woman's ...more
Claire Haeg
Mar 12, 2011 Claire Haeg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Women warriors from Boadicea to Margaret Thatcher. Entertainingly written hiistory of various female rulers in various countries. Boadicea is used to draw feminist themes regarding the difficulty of acting militarily in a feminine way. Well worth the read.

I do like Lady Toni.
Karen Cox
Feb 21, 2014 Karen Cox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books ever. Fraser is an engaging writer even on dry subjects. In this book, she has some of the most interesting people in history to work with. Read it!
Apr 19, 2009 Cari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Simply could not get into this book. I loved Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette, and the subject matter for Warrior Queens is an instant hook for me. But, as my mother said when she tried to read it, this book reads like a textbook. Such a shame.
Sep 25, 2010 Vicki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very pro female. I enjoyed it very much. It is a nonfiction work describing nearly a dozen warring female leaders globally and throughout history. I checked it out of the ship's library and read it while touring Alaska.
Jun 19, 2009 Luci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good general history of women warrior queens. My only complaint is really Fraser should have clarified her archetypes in the beginning so when she referenced them within the text, it would have been clear.
Apr 05, 2011 Lily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
A look at some brave women in history.
I barely got to the end of this book - which was surprising as I'm a great fan of Fraser's work ordinarily. However, I found the structure of this book somewhat convoluted and confusing, and it didn't really give the insight I was expecting on key female historical figures.

Fraser has based the book around the history of Iceni Queen Boadicea/Boudica - a fascinating story, however almost half of the book is about her - which is surprising as so little is known of the 1st century AD queen. This mea
Mar 11, 2010 Danien rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book explores the history, role, and images of several women in history who, while not all were sword-wielding battlefield warrior Amazons, came to positions of great influence and power, some by their great abilities and others by inheritance or association. This includes the popular British Boudica, Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great (Russia), and lesser known ones (at least, outside their own cultural lineage) such as Mathilda of Tuscany, Rani of Jhansi (India), etc.

More interestingl
When it comes to history about people who didn't necessarily write down their stories or legends, it can be very difficult separating myth from fact. But thanks to the diligence of modern historians and accidental discoveries brought about by excavation (or simply someone diving or fishing in the right spot), we can learn a lot about our ancestors. Ms. Fraser is one of those historians, blessed by an avid curiosity, a rigid adherence to facts and the luck attending those various startled civilia ...more
I am trying to be a bit better about dropping books that I don't want to finish. I'm a little disappointed in this one since I generally enjoy Antonia Fraser's work.

As other reviews note, this book is very fractured and poorly organized. It is also quite dated and relies on being British? Or at least the first chunk of the book, constantly aluding to a historical heroine I had never heard of, assumes knowledge of Celtic heroines. I won't judge an author for writing to a specific audience, and it
Dec 02, 2014 JodiP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I read by Frasier, the more I appreciate her. She writes with wit but never sacrifices research. this book covered about a dozen women who lead their nations in war. I will admit I didn't read all the last chapter, when she delved into theory once again. I thought she was re-hashing much of what she'd stated in individual chapters. I did learn quite a bit about women I'd never heard of: Zenobia, Tamara of Georgia, and Jinga of Angola.
One of my favorite topics, powerful women throughout history who led their countries or their people in battle. Probably the dullest of Antonia Fraser's novels that I have read, although the subject matter was of particular interest to me. I found the book dry, as well as somewhat fractured and poorly organized. It is also quite dated and reads as such, with frequent non sequitors and tangents as well.

Not her best work, but readable. I was introduced to women I had never heard of before, which
Jul 04, 2014 Kirsten rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was deeply disappointed by this book. The women who are the subjects are fascinating, but Antonia Fraser was so determined to connect them and present a theory of warrior queens that she lost sight of storytelling. The book jumos from one female leader (not all are queens) to the next, providing too little detail to understand the context and circumstances each faced or how each handled their authority. The theory she sacrificed storytelling to is also unsatisfying. I'm unconvinced that all th ...more
Dec 16, 2012 Sonya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very dense book which would be good for the scholar and not so much for general audience. Her overall theme is based on an ancient British queen named Boudica, which is unexpected when one reads the title of the book. She digresses a bit in each chapter but does seem to wind the story back to the character she's supposed to be talking about. In general it seems as though there is not a lot of historical fact for many of the characters and therefore, she (the warrior queen) is talked a ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An informative overview of powerful, influential warrior queens throughout the ages. Fraser does not shy away from presenting information in a pedantic light, so it may not be the most exciting bedtime reading; however, certain chapters, such as Boudicea and the Amazons, are exciting enough in their own right.
Annette McIntyre
Not what I expected, but a very well written book. I have given it so few stars as it wasn't what I wanted to read - namely biographies on women who were/are considered to be warrior queens. This book was more of a treatise on what makes women who rule in a time of war different. A very scholarly book.
Mar 21, 2016 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kewwar, kew-nf
A fascinating historical survey spanning wide swathes of time, situation and geographical location. The stories of these fascinating women warriors have a lot to teach us about the strange but deeply entrenched link between masculinity and power throughout history. As usual, we learn more from the exceptions to the historical norm.
Raul Ortega
Jan 19, 2015 Raul Ortega rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I may not finish this one. Too bogged down with geneology of too many European royal famiies. May be enjoyable if you are an anglophile or a product of British education. Info on Boudicca informed but Frasier writing declines afterward. Most queens sketchy. Seem like notes for a later book. A disappointment for me. Had high expectations after twice reading her life of Marie Antoinette.
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
More about Antonia Fraser...

Other Books in the Series

Medieval Women Boxset (6 books)
  • Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
  • Elizabeth I
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • The Weaker Vessel

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