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The Lost Steersman

(The Steerswoman #3)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,578 ratings  ·  162 reviews

How do you find someone?

How, if you have never seen him, never heard him described, did not know where he lived? How, if he wished not to be found?

And how, most especially, if he were the most powerful wizard in the world?

The steerswoman Rowan has discovered that the fall of the Guidestar and the massacre of Outskirter tribes were caused by one man: the sec
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published March 24th 2014 by Rosemary Kirstein (first published August 26th 2003)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  1,578 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Allison Hurd
Jan 06, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fem-author, scifi
I had to sit and think about this one. The more I think, the more clever and also more frustrating I think it becomes.

CONTENT WARNING:(view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The steerswomen. Oh yes! Plural! You meet more! And it was good that we did, because I was beginning to feel that Rowan was an author stand-in, and then we met another and she was so different but also still t
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was up until 0445 reading this. Oblivious to everything including the birds singing not far from my window. A highly immersive reading experience.

Kirstein sets standards in the genre with the Steerswoman series that deserves much more attention and acclaim.

More of my thoughts about this book and series can be found here
Katie Bee
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books-read
Okay, so, wow. This book is still percolating in my brain - it's amazing. I'm going to be mulling it over for a while.

The first half of this book is in line with the first and second books in the Steerswoman series. Rowan returns from her Outskirter adventure and is doing research in a small town, making haphazard attempts at fitting in while she goes through an appallingly neglected archive. I liked this part of the book perfectly well; the townspeople are interesting, particularly Steffie, the
I had read this book once before. I must have been about ten years old; I owned and loved The Steerswoman's Road, and borrowed this third book in the series from the library. For some reason, it made little impression on me. I remembered the emotional contours of the story - the tension and nostalgia between Rowan and Janus, the warmth of Steffie's arc, the steadily building frustration (very much like that of The Outskirter's Secret) and then the dramatic upset of the ending. But I remembered i ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just....wow.

This was a tour de force - in the best way.
Kirstein once again manages to expand her world, to make it strange and then make it make sense.

At the same time, her ability to draw complex, layered, and interesting characters and trace their development is not diminished one bit.
Nov 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
3 to 3.5 stars. For me this third book of the series was a little slow-paced and drawn out. At the end, I was left feeling as if not a lot of progress had been made towards the solving of the overall mystery running through the books (of the origin of the ‘wizards’ and their ‘magic’).

This may well prove to be a mistaken impression as I read the next book, but that’s how I felt. There was some groundwork laid for future revelations no doubt, but I still felt a little as if I was marking time. I
If my praise of Rosemary Kirstein is growing tedious, that is most likely because you haven't read her books yet and you don't understand why it is so well-deserved. Unfettered by common tropes, spectacularly expressive in her prose, talented wielder of the slow reveal, Kirstein is not messing around. This is her story; she was meant to tell it.

Reasons to like this third installment:
* New character, Steffie, whose brain works so much faster than his ability to get his thoughts out that he ends
Dec 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is my favorite book in the Steerswoman series so far. 4 1/2 stars
Very much ahead of it's time, published a year before facebook, 3 years before twitter is even founded. We already see a description of fake news.

See, one by one, none of them's smart as a Steerswoman; but if you put them all together, then the really stupid ideas sort of fall out the bottom, and the ideas that make sense sort of clump in the middle where everyone can look at ’em. So, the wrong thing would have to look like t
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is almost two books: the first depicting broken people's struggles. Rowan struggles with the trauma of living in the Outskirts, constantly in danger, and returning to civilization. Struggling with safety. Struggling with townspeople who are soft, slow and do not understand danger and the trust it brings. Rowan's character comes out in detail as a medieval geek, dedicated to knowledge, always thinking logically, unable to connect with the people around her, unable to understand the society s ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I love these books so much! I read the first two (compiled into one book) about a year ago. They're a celebration of science and exploration, in such a Star Trek meets fantasy novel meets mystery novel kind of way. The suspense centres on solving the mystery with our hero Rowan, while she tries stubbornly to do everything on her own while meeting awesome friends along the way who want to help. I can't reveal my favourite thing about this book without totally spoiling it, but if you liked the fir ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
The one where Rowan works with other steerswomen (absent, present, past, and future), makes a long journey and an amazing discovery, but doesn't get one step closer to the wizard she's looking for.

The pacing of this book was very strange -- the section in the Demon Lands would have worked perfectly fine if it had been in the early part of the story, but in the last third, where we're conditioned to expect the pace to pick up, it was agonizingly slow.

I also couldn't buy the leaps of logic that
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our steerswoman Rowan returns from the outskirts to the 'frontier' town of Alemeth to search the Steerswomen's archives there for clues to the wizard Slado. Bel remains in the outskirts to alert other tribes of the coming problems. In Alemeth, Rowan finds Janus-- a former steersman who quit a few years ago and who is now banned due to his refusal to answer why he quit. The former keeper of the archives in Alemeth recently passed away and Rowan assumes her role, albeit disquieted about the state ...more
Brittany Guilbert
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED the Steerswoman and I literally cannot understand how every new book in this series keeps getting BETTER! THIS BOOK ABSOLUTELY BLEW ME AWAY! READ IT!!
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up the first in the Steerswoman series after reading a review in Eyrie.org (this is a site I don't see mentioned much at all, probably since it's pretty low-key, but I've been following it for many years it's led me to quite a lot of wonderful books, mostly in the fantasy/sci-fi and non-fiction genres). I had never heard of Rosemary Kirstein and never heard of this series before reading the review. Having finished all 4 available books now, I can tell you they should be much better know ...more
The Captain
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there mateys!  A long while back in 2017, Matey Sarah @ brainfluff reminded me that this series existed.  I had the two books in omnibus form and they were five stars reads.  Then Matey Sarah told me there were two more books in the series!  So I recently I re-read the omnibus and then moved into new territory with book three.  While I try to post no spoilers, proceed at your own peril . . .

The main character of these books is a steerswoman named Rowan who is the member of "an order dedicat
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. Third book in the series. So I loved the first and second books because they were a fresh new way of doing things that I hadn't read before. With this one, there were times when I was wondering if there might be a reason that people don't write this way. Not all the time, mind you, but on occasion.

These books are the most realistic in such a fascinating way. For example, in the second book (this is a spoiler for the second book, if you haven't read it, by the way), Rowan went on an epic jou
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All kinds of twists and turns that I wasn't expecting! Also, unlike many middle of series books, this wasn't dull, even if there was quite a bit of traveling. ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much like the concept of exploration and learning, the more I read about this world, the more questions and mystery there are to explore. There are so many things to love about this series and the writing and what the author has created and one which helps build all the others is how the classic story expectations are constantly flipped and reworked into something new, unexpected and exciting.

Just when you think you know how a thread will go, it takes you somewhere you hadn't imagined. The gradu
Jun 02, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022-reads
Someone called me out and said that I was stingy, so these lines serve as the half-star that I can't give on GR because it (👎😁)

I'm still thinking about how much I loved Zenna, a character written from joy, driven by it.

How she beautifully offers a nice counterpoint to Rowan's extreme self-absorption, and how that exactly is one of the many points of this part 3.

And book sorting party!
S.J. Higbee
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book absolutely filled the brief of completely absorbing me from the first page to the last, which I finished once more blown away by where Kirstein has taken this amazing series.

I love Rowan. She is a strong, capable protagonist who is consumed with curiosity about the world around her – which is why she trained to be a Steerswoman in the first place. Steerwomen undertake long, arduous journeys mapping and logging the landscape and are bound to answer any questions put to them by the local
Jun 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like logic puzzles, lifetime students at heart, observers, fantasy lovers
I have to say that I do miss the Outskirts in this book, but in Inner Lands town of Alemeth takes on it's own unique personality with many amusing moments characteristic of a small gossipy community. I also miss Bel, but Alemeth comes through again with a local young man called Steffie, a new and endearing character. Steffie's though process and articulation can be slow and awkward, but his mind is steady and persistent to compensate. I have a particular fondness for him because my thought proce ...more
Book 3 in the series sees Rowan leaving the Outskirters to take up residence in a small town in the Inner Lands. She and I miss Bel. She takes over the previous Steerswoman's cottage and tries to a) put things to rights in the town, doing her job-wise, and b) scour the local records for clues as to where the Big Bad, the wizard Slado, might have his headquarters. I greatly appreciated the slice-of-life world-building of this section, and the new sidekick character, Steffie.

About halfway through
Mar 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not as good as the first two. Part of the reason was the scale was much smaller (plot and setting), and the other part was it just...wasn't very interesting. For a while the (view spoiler) was interesting. You could wonder, what's causing this? Is it her? Or him? Or something else?

But then we get dragged into small town small-mindedness, and related crap. It's boring. If I wanted that, I'd go to town meetings. Then when there's *fina
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One can say Rosemary Kirstein is an excellent author - but not a particularly fast one. There was an 11-year gap between the publication of the last book in this series (The Outskirter's Secret) and this one (1992 - 2003). However, this book is just as good as its predecessors - and that's quite good!
The Steerswoman Rowan continues her dangerous investigations into the plots of wizards, and how they may threaten the life of her people. What might be the motivation to disrupt weather and cause a
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
D.F. Haley
I was quite disappointed in this book mostly because the first two books in this series were so great. While time and trudging are a critical element of this story, the pacing of the story seemed dreadfully slow. I barely had the patience to hang on while the primary characters are struggling through the vicissitudes of an alien environment. As the nature of the quadrilateral aliens is slowly revealed, this story lacks the sense of discovery, connection, and wonder we found in The Outskirters Se ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book badly disturbed me. A lot of it was kind of a Gorillas in the Mist deep dive into the anatomy and behavior of a particular fantasy species, which... not entirely sure where she's going with that, to be honest, but it seems like it's going to be relevant to the overall plot. Anyway, there's a lot of mythical-creature-gore that poked me in bad places, and betrayal of close relationships that poked me in different bad places, and a lot of it was about trying to get me to like a new charac ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book five stars, as this was the strongest book of the what has been a very good series so far. But I feel like 4.5 stars is more appropriate, as this seemed to wander a bit afield. This could certainly get amended to the full 5 stars, depending on how things tie back together in book 4.

Which is, for the moment, the last book available. I'll say it again, Rosemary Kirstein: if you could move ahead with publishing 5&6, that'd be appreciated.
Nov 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I always thought that The Steerswoman series was a cut above most series I read. And The Lost Steersman did nothing, but reaffirm that.

I have my own blog now, so please do pay it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :)


I had a few horrible horrible days in the end of October, and I couldn’t quite sit as much as I wanted to get through this book before that month ended. However, every time I opened it again, it was incredible. While I was halfway or so away from the
May 27, 2022 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how to rate this one.

on the one hand, there were incredible movements forward into this utterly strange world. On the other, certain parts are underdeveloped or just don't quite click.

The book is oddly divided into two discrete sections, and they don't really work that well together as a single narrative. The ending is also a bit rushed.

but, for all of that, it's a fantastic journey and another book that relies on learning and empathy to move forward in the face of senseless viole
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“The whole bathhouse had been given over to laundry, which never struck Steffie as a good idea, what with who knows who having been in there after having been who knows where and having been in he didn't want to think what.” 2 likes
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