Sword and Sorceress Analysis

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Each anthology in the Sword and Sorceress series contains approximately fifteen to twenty separate stories, each featuring a swordswoman paired with a sorceress, sometimes by accident and sometimes by plan. The women may be lovers, friends, kin, business partners, employees of the same master/mistress, unwilling companions, or chance-met acquaintances. Both usually manifest courage, determination, self-direction, high ethical standards, endurance, and quick thinking. The challenges they face and overcome may be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or magical; the challengers/ antagonists may be forces of nature, animals, monsters, demons, humans, magicians, or characters’ own inner weaknesses.

Most often, the swordswoman earns her living by her martial skills as a mercenary, although she may be a paladin of sorts. Her weaponry often includes implements other than her sword, such as knives and daggers, throwing stars, bows and arrows, garrotes, staffs, and crossbows, as well as a shield and various sorts of armor. Occasionally she carries a talisman for protection against evil magic. Many swordswomen in the series possess steeds of their own; a few own hawks, hounds, or other animals that travel with them. A swordswoman may operate freelance, serve a liege lord/lady, belong to a mercenary company, work to pay off a debt or fulfill a vow, roam by choice, or live in enforced or self-chosen exile.

The sorceress in each duo may be an apprentice testing her skills, a journeywoman fulfilling part of her magical training, or a traveling professional whose ethics prohibit her from using magic to counter those sorts of dangers that a swordswoman could handle. Like the swords-woman, the sorceress may serve a master/mistress, work as an...

(The entire section is 720 words.)