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The Language of Power

(The Steerswoman #4)

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,415 ratings  ·  151 reviews

The steerswoman Rowan has learned much about the master-wizard Slado: how his spells are devastating the distant lands known as the Outskirts, and how they will ultimately threaten even the Inner Lands. But she knows nothing else about him, not even why he is hiding his actions from the other wizards.

He must be found, and stopped.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published April 20th 2014 by Rosemary Kirstein (first published August 2004)
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🤡 It's been 15 years... if the author can't be bothered to write it then I can certainly write off the author. It's authors like this that made me (and …moreIt's been 15 years... if the author can't be bothered to write it then I can certainly write off the author. It's authors like this that made me (and most other people I know) refuse to start reading a series until it's finished. And, guess what, that's not really a problem... there are THOUSANDS of great, complete series out there just waiting to be read.(less)

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Average rating 4.36  · 
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 ·  1,415 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Mar 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No review. Saving my comments for the thread in the SFFBC group. ...more
Nick Fagerlund
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Impossibly, incandescently good. More barbarian action! More Scientifick Adventuring! More UNIX geeks with grenades! Wait, pretend I didn't say that.

UNFORTUNATELY, it's the last book currently available in the series, so now I get to grind my teeth and wait for the next one. I'd say something about wishing Kirstein would hurry up, but frankly the results of her current process are so perfect that I'm loathe to even suggest messing with it.
So. People. If you like speculative fiction, you need to go purchase these books, preferably new on Kindle so that Rosemary Kirstein is rewarded for her amazing work and can support herself while she continues creating it. Then you need to go tell all your speculative-fiction-loving friends to do the same. This is me doing that now.

Oh, reasons? You want reasons. I already gave you reasons three times in my previous reviews. And once you follow my advice and read these first four installments, y
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just.....continue to be blown away by how amazing Kirstein's books are. From the expertly layered, slowly unfolding mysteries to the sharply drawn characters, and the tightly plotted suspense, this was once again just excellent.

I can't wait for the next book to come out!
Oct 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Strong 4.5
This is my favorite so far: I barked out surprised laughter (startling cats), I cried, and I have become *deeply* attached to these characters. I cannot wait for there to be more of these books.
Gosh, this was good.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
The one where Rowan reunites with Bel and Will, tracking wizards through the past while confronting them in the present.

These books continue to be not like anything else I have ever read. In particular the author is doing some perfectly amazing things with point of view as we see the exercise of wizardly power, which might be quite familiar to us, through the eyes of someone to whom it's not familiar at all, so that its strangeness is revealed to us.

These books also continue to be the best port
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unfinished series whose last book was published in 2004? Why didn't anyone warn me!

*Update* The author is currently working on 2 more books!!
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing

You guys, this series. I’ve so far recommended it to at least 6 people, and I’m not slowing down. I’m bummed there’s no true culmination, but I can only figure that it’ll just give me an opportunity to reread the series before the next comes out.


For an actual reflection on the content of the series, see Robin.
Dec 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed all four books in this series, the worldbuilding is fantastic the characters are really engaging and in this book all three of the main characters from book one are reunited. The only complaint I have is that it's December 18 years later that this book was published and we haven't gotten another book in the series. I want to see what happens to these characters and world.
This book has a note that the author is working on books five and six, but I don't know if that was in the 2
This will certainly be percolating through my brain in however long the wait is for the next book. Like before, however many questions are answered lead to more questions by the end of the book. Like before, details and encounters in past books come into play, making the world feel real and complicated and genuine.

For the first time, Slado, the mysterious, shadowy figure behind so much of the previous books, is brought more into focus, as Rowan and Bell focus on piercing together what they can a
Dec 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can not wait for more books!! Good luck to Rosemary
This is book four of a series about the Steerswoman, Rowan. This amazing series might have one or two more books, if and when they get published. This fourth book is similar to the previous books in the series. We follow Rowan in her search to uncover the mysteries with the wizards and the guidestars.

Rowan comes to Donner and does what Steerswomen do. She questions people who might have known the wizard at the time 4 decades earlier when the guidestar was brought down. She finds the Donner conne
Nov 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
As expected, The Language of Power was just as entertaining as the previous books in the series.

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


It's the end of the available road for me when it comes to the Steerswoman series. But, I'll easily say that Rosemary Kirstein earned herself one more lifelong fan for her phenomenal series.

I don't believe that there is anything yet to be said about the brilliant intricacy and attention
Apr 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Another solid volume in the series, but unfortunately, it does not wrap up much and it looks to be the last one Kirstein wrote. Rowan, our Steerswoman, is back in a big city looking for clues to the rogue 'wizard' that is destroying the outskirts and the people therein. She hooks up with Bel again, and tries to find some information about what happened 50 or so years ago to the last wizard stationed in town. Fun read, but it leaves you wanting more. ...more
Holly Deitz
Jun 04, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I swear to all that's unholy that I cannot believe writing is not Rosemary Kirstein's full-time job. I think I may have hit the end of the road of her published works. If that's the case, I'm going to be very, very sad. ...more
May 13, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Phipps
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
This was book 4 of 6 of the Steerswoman series. Much like the previous volumes for the most part. Rowan and her friends are still investigating things while trying to avoid the wizards' attention. Discoveries come very slowly.

There is no telling when books 5 and 6 will be released so I will provide some thoughts on the series as a whole thus far. This series is well-written and the characters feel real/believable. I like that romantic angst is pretty much non-existent and that gender equality se
Much of this book is about how to make sense of past events through personal stories. Rowan interviews many people connected to someone she's hunting down, sifting through their impressions from decades before. Despite this focus on a distant event, tension is building in the world around her. Kirstein's pacing is slow compared to the world-falling-down model employed by so many fantasy authors, and I appreciate the difference.

After reading more Kirstein I'm looking forward to what Alaya Dawn Jo
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like fantasy (that's really not fantasy, just fiction set in a non-magical land that is not our own) then get yourself down to the bookstore and order everything they've got by Ms. Kirstein. The woman can tell a story, and the fourth installment in the Steerswoman series doesn't disappoint. Characters who disappeared back in books one and three show up again, changed by their various experiences. Bad guys, new friends, dragons, and Rowan and Bel trying to figure out what that Slago is up ...more
Beth (moonivy)
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy/sci-fi readers.
Read 6/30-7/1/07
The Language of Power is the fourth book in the Steerswoman series. Old friends reunite and adventures ensue as Rowan continues to slowly unfurl the mysteries surrounding the wizards. Part rollicking adventure,
part philosophical treatise on the nature of mathematics, this odd fantasy/sci-fi hybrid is a very enjoyable set of stories. Recommended
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up the first in the Steerswoman series after reading a review in (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
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi
In this one, Rowan comes to Donner, after reading about a sudden personality change in its former wizard Kieran, right around the time of the Guidestar falling.

(view spoiler)
S.J. Higbee
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My firm advice with this particular slice of the adventure is not to read it. First, go back to the first in the series, The Steerwoman, and start the narrative there. While I’m sure you could follow this slice of the unfolding story without too much trouble, this is such a cracking series with so many clever twists and scenarios that starting here right at the end would be a real shame. Far better to begin at the start to fully appreciate this adventure.

Rowan visits Donner on the trail of the w
D.F. Haley
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stalled out on this book when I suddenly realized that it was the middle of the series and wouldn't conclude the cycle. In truth, I didn't want it to end! I love these characters and the lyrical storytelling which perfectly matches the pace of the story to a low-technology travelogue.

The Language of Power, and the knowledge of power are the essential mysteries of the "wizards" who rule these lands. The Steerswomen are dedicated to truth and universal knowledge. Thus, a built-in conflict exist
Jay Brantner
Apr 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Steerswoman series has hit the point where I can no longer be objective about it—which is itself a glowing recommendation. Kirstein has drawn me in so deeply with her characters and the central theme of the series that it’s going to take a major misstep to break my immersion. And there are none here. Does Rowan’s mind work incredibly fast in difficult situations? Sure. Is that harming how much I love this series? Nope.

After spending most of book three apart, we see the dynamic duo of Rowan
Cheryl struggles to catch up
Ongoing discussion in SFFBC group.

I'm disappointed in Rowan for the choice to not interview Nid promptly.
Kirstein is so good at consciously avoiding cliches and contrivances, but this felt like a big flaw to me.

Love the ending w/ the ppl of Donner.

Found the bit that reminded me of the Power of Labyrinths to be the most powerful meditative or 'spiritual practice' for this atheist. I wish there was a labyrinth around here... I used to live near Reno and even the simple one at the arboretum was an
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The excellent series continues; it is now some six years after Rowan and Bel first met and at least a few months past the ending of the The Lost Steersman.

The fact that Bel is back again with more than a cameo instantly makes this satisfying; the relationship of the wandering Outskirter and Steerswoman, and the way they complement each other, being a highlight of the ongoing story.

The action happens in Donner, close to the center of civilization. This was a town that appeared early in the first
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent installment. This is the last one that was published, and while I certainly want the rest of the series, I'm content enough with where this wrapped up.

Overall, this series has been fascinating to read. The science fiction remains diamond hard, while the story remains thoroughly wrapped up in a fantasy costume. I just love reading the scenes where I, avid consumer of sci fi that I am, understand what is going on at a wholly different level from Rowan.

I also find I'm appreciating
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook, scifi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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11 likes · 4 comments
“Rowan sighed. “Yes.” She folded her hands before her on the table, sat gazing at them a moment. “But.” She looked up at the Outskirter. “Bel, no matter how clever we are, no matter how much we can discover, I believe that the common folk will, at the end of this, need magic. Even if we defeat Slado, or kill him, Routine Bioform Clearance will have to be reestablished according to its proper use, and maintained, and intelligently so.” 2 likes
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