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The Steerswoman's Road
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The Steerswoman's Road (The Steerswoman #1-2)

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  271 ratings  ·  51 reviews
If you ask, she will answer. If she asks, you must reply. A steerswoman will speak only the truth to you, as long as she knows it—and you must do the same for her. And so, across the centuries, the Steerswomen— questioning, searching, investigating—have slowly learned more and more about the world through which they wander. All knowledge the Steerswomen possess is given fr...more
Paperback, Omnibus, 668 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Del Rey
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(showing 1-30 of 661)
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Nick Fagerlund
Low-tech scientist-adventurer kicks ass, takes names, takes extensive notes (with diagrams), and gets shot at by ancient ecocidal weapons systems. Fucking absolutely amazing. I recommend this book series without a single reservation. Could go on and on and on, but a: I'll save it for LJ, and b: must be careful not to screw up the reveals, which are myriad and totally sweet.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Great novel! I love how Kirstein dresses a science fiction book into perfect fantasy clothes. It will be a great journey of discovery for me and for Rowan in the second volume, because every tiny bit of this apparently fantasy world has a science-fictional explanation. I can't wait!
Ethan
Fantasy and I have had a tepid relationship as of late. I've always been more of a science fiction fan, anyway, but I've been thoroughly unable to get into the last few fantasy books I've attempted to read. The Steerswoman was thus unexpectedly awesome. As many reviewers have noted, this is basically a science fiction story in the guise of fantasy, which probably explains my reaction. The main characters (who are awesome, by the way) use critical thinking in their search for knowledge whereas a...more
Lis Carey
This is an omnibus edition of The Steerswoman and The Outskirter's Secret, originally published in 1989 and 1992. They're books with the outward form of fantasy, and the underlying structure of science fiction.

Rowan is a steerswoman, an initiate of a privileged group of knowledge-gatherers who travel assigned routes through the world, filling in missing details and sharing their gathered knowledge with anyone who asks--provided that they also answer any questions the steerswomen have. Individual...more
April
I enjoyed this book to pieces. It is very difficult to describe. At heart the story is of one woman, interested in ferreting out information on a curiosity and it blows up into a world in danger. Sort of without the reader even being aware until you get there.

I find the concept of the steerswomen fascinating, a group of people dedicated to knowledge, gathering it and sharing it freely like human libraries wandering the earth. I did find a bit of a logical flaw in their makeup but I got over it....more
Liz Henry
I love the Steerswoman books! Rowan is a steerswoman, part of a guild of travelling librarian/archivist/researchers who swear to answer any question truthfully. She meets up with a fabulous sword wielding barbarian. When they investigate the mystery of some weird jewels, wizards start trying to kill them. Except it's actually all science fiction, with computers and satellites and radioactive weapons and blacksmith's children inventing gunpowder!

The Steerswoman books are awesome for showing cult...more
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MB
Okay, that was interesting!

The first book "The Steerwoman" felt like a standard fantasy, if fairly slow going. But Kirstein gives you the clues bit by bit and you the reader as well as the characters build up them up piece by piece.

The second book "The Outskirters Secret" was more interesting to me and I really liked the world buildup of the Outskirts including the flora and fauna, the tribal life and customs, and the way they all interacted. I also especially enjoyed the friendship between th...more
Diane Baker
This series looks like fantasy, but behind it is real science, and the mind of a scientist: Rowan, the Steerswoman. Ask her a question, and she'll answer you, but you must answer her questions truthfully, or she (and any other Steerswoman) will never answer your questions again. Ever. (Makes you wish you were a Steerswoman yourself.)

Rowan seeks knowledge as avidly as a thirsty person seeks water in a desert. The story stays in the mind a long time, and one must pay attention to small details to...more
Janet
Jul 22, 2014 Janet added it
Shelves: fiction, sff, 2014
I picked this up based on Jo Walton's recommendation: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2008/10/not-...

And, wow, was Jo ever right! (I know. Such a surprise.) When you start reading it, the protagonist is at an inn, with other travelers. It looks like the standard medievalish fantasy setting -- there's even a reference to a wizard -- but you couldn't be more wrong. This is science fiction, and the working out of the science is deliciously revealed in the course of a suspenseful story. I loved the charact...more
Deanna
I really enjoyed this book, and the whole series. This edition contains the first two books, there are two more published, and a fifth is in progress. There are two strong female protagonists with very different personalities that are very enjoyable. This is smart fantasy.
Rob
Nov 04, 2013 Rob rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf-f
Not the book for me. Not being able to bring myself to care about what was going on, plus some annoying authorial tics conspired to end the book early for me.
Valerie
Sep 10, 2008 Valerie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Debbie
Recommended to Valerie by: free
Shelves: math, fantasy-sf
I really enjoy the concept of Steerswomen. It drives the book and sets up strings of events that follow logically and impeccably.
Stephanie
I stopped at 80 or so pages - it just wasn't holding my interest.
Genarti
I'd been hearing for years about The Steerswoman as a thoughtful fantasy book deeply beloved by a lot of people whose taste I respect. I finally got around to reading it, and I wasn't disappointed in the least. Rowan and Bel are fascinating, three-dimensional characters, and so is everyone else, even the minor characters. More than that, I deeply respect Rosemary Kirstein's worldbuilding here. There's genuine culture clash, and genuine culture variation -- not only do different individuals view...more
Althea Ann
This is an omnibus edition of "The Steerswoman" and "The Outskirter's Secret."

Kirstein's 'Steerswoman' series had been highly recommended to me - and did not disappoint in the slightest. It's fun, well-crafted, well-characterized adventure with an original set-up and believable culture(s). Rowan is a Steerswoman. As the title might indicate, she is adept at nautical navigation, but the main goal of Steerswomen is to collect (and dissemintate) knowledge and information, write it down, and deliver...more
M—
Beach Vacation Read #2: One of two carefully selected proper paper books brought along to supplement my ereader and read on the plane. This one, snagged used through a bookswap site, had the misfortune to reek of smoke and my effort to remove the odor had met with minimal success. I had intended at the beginning to abandon it at the beach house — but it was so good, I passed it to my dad instead.

It is rare, rare, rare that I find a book that's lived up to its hype, but this one did, and then som...more
Mark
Jan 19, 2012 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sci-fi
If you ask a Steerswoman (and some Steersmen) a question, any question, she will answer. If a Steerswoman asks you a question, any question, you must reply. A Steerswoman will speak only the truth to you (provided she knows the truth) and you must do the same for her. If you refuse to answer her question, you will be placed under the Steerswomen's Ban and no Steerswoman will answer your questions - ever. So for centuries, the Steerswomen - questioning, searching, investigating - have slowly lear...more
Deidre
I've had this series for awhile, but had a hard time getting book 3 (ended up with a proof edition, but I'm reading this series anyway!).

This is really a great read. Seems like fantasy, epic type, but one can tell right off that it is also science fiction. (view spoiler)

I have a zillion things to do, but read this combo of book 1 & 2 instead. I lov...more
Michelle
wavering between 3-4 stars, the lush prose beats out the slow pacing.

on a far off world, Rosemary Kierstein has come up with an entirely novel version of honor. her main character, Rowan, is a steerswoman: one of a college of wandering scribes who gathers as much knowledge of the world as possible, and redistributes this knowledge freely to anyone. you see, if you ask a steerswoman a question, she must respond, and you are likewise bound to truthfully and fully answer her questions as well. lyi...more
Beth (moonivy)
Jun 30, 2007 Beth (moonivy) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fantasy/sci-fi readers.
Read 5/28-6/1/07.

The Steerswoman is the first book in a series of elegantly drawn fantasy/
science fiction novels about Rowan, a steerswoman. On Rowan's world, a
medieval culture reigns, where a select few are steerswomen - a combination
of historian, adventurer, law-giver, healer and teacher. Rowan's investigation
into the mysterious blue jewels that are scattered about the Inner Lands will
lead her into danger and conflict with the wizards that rule the land.

This is an excellent fantasy novel, gro...more
Suz
"If you ask, she will answer. If she asks, you must reply. A steerswoman will speak only the truth to you, as long as she knows it—and you must do the same for her" - it's an interesting premise, and it brings a lot of great questions out about the truth, the nature of truth, and what it means.

The best part of the steerswomen is their search for truth and information for the sake of truth and information. They are purists, they are true scientists, and they are open.

In this world they're pitted...more
Miramira Endevall
Feb 25, 2010 Miramira Endevall rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: JFi, Morgan
Recommended to Miramira by: Valerie
Valerie, Valerie. How did I ever doubt you?

"The Steerswoman's Road" is actually an omnibus edition of the first two books published in this series, "The Steerswoman" and "The Outskirter's Secret." I was not horribly crazy about "The Steerswoman." I liked Rowan no end, but the storytelling was stale and frankly boring. I left "The Lost Steersman" and "The Language of Power" in my car to pick up in April, figuring that it might take me a month to finish slogging through the last 500+ pages of "The...more
zjakkelien
Wow, this book is amazing! Or these books I should say, since it is a combination of book 1 and 2 of the steerswoman books. Both worlds described in the books, the steerwoman's world, and the Outskirts are great. The two main characters, Rowan and Bel, are engaging and interesting. And I really like how Rowan manages to achieve so much purely by using her powers of deduction and without any magic at all. But what makes the books brilliant is that it's world is not what it seems at first. As a re...more
Beth
Kirstein has created an interesting world here, and her plot twists are quite well handled. Her feminist take is a nice bonus, although I found the assumed heterosexism in a few places a little annoying. But the strong, three-dimensional women were appealing, and the clash of cultures was an interesting exploration. Her one reference to a man with dark skin seemed like a token sop to multiculturalism unfortunately. I also thought it was a little embarrassing that she gave him blue eyes with near...more
Melissa
I am not a lover of science fiction, and that's where many readers would pigeon hole these novels. But I think they sit firmly in the science-fantasy genre.

There is magic. Wizards, goblins, and swords. Also, technology that orbits the planet and looks like a star.

Kirstien is incredible. Her story is so intricate, and the complexity of the mystery grows.

The main character, a woman, journeys from her familiar land into the far reaches of a surreal wilderness. The wilds are fierce with nasty plan...more
Christine
Kirstein's fantasy world-building is refreshingly different. She advances the plot through rich interpersonal interactions and Rowan's intellectual discipline as an investigator/scholar. When there's action, it's all the more immediate because of the lengthy pauses between violent or sudden events. Bel and Rowan's friendship is really satisfying and develops believably.

I love the concept of steerswomen. They're versed in esoteric knowledge, but their purpose is to exist in, learn from and be us...more
Sean
I heard about this series from a review/recommendation on Tor.com, and judging by certain elements that I will not reveal (because they are spoilers, Jo Walton), I assumed I wouldn't like it very much. I was wrong.

Kirstein has created an interesting and puzzling world that I really can't talk about because of the aforementioned spoilers. Suffice it to say she has taken what could have been a completely clichéd premise and made it almost unrecognizable by a) not giving all the secrets away in the...more
Pancha
This book is fantastic, and I was really sad when I finished because I was under the impression that the author was still working on the next book. Not true, both #3 and #4 are available, and I only until the library request to come in.

I don't want to drop any spoilers here, because I think the twists and turns are worth discovering as you read. So to be vague but recommendatory, this book has a really well-crafted world, solid characters, and really great relationships (especially friendships...more
Carolyn
An omnibus containing The Steerswoman and The Outskirter's Secret.
An enjoyable world, with very interesting cultures.
However, from the first book I kept having flashbacks to Sharon Shinn's Samaria series, and so I am not surprised at the things that the Steerswoman keeps discovering.
Looking forward to the next two though. = )

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