She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much
Book One of the War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters
A historical fantasy by S. R. Cronin
Do you know what your problem is?
Ryalgar knows hers. People have been telling this overeducated 13th-century woman for years. So when an equally intellectual prince decides he loves her, it looks like everyone was wrong and her dreams have come true.
Except, this prince is already betrothed to another. He’s leading the army training to defend their tiny realm against an expected Mongol invasion and he is considering sacrificing Ryalgar’s home nichna of Vinx by abandoning it’s rich farmlands to their foes.
Another woman would flee to safety. Maybe she would seek another lover. But not Ryalgar. Living in a world where witchcraft has been allowed to flourish and problematic powers remain, she devises her own strategy to keep the invaders from destroying her home.
This is just the sort of thing that happens when a woman thinks too much.
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After a couple of anks, I decided to ask about seeing Nevik. I’d noticed the other women came and went, missing classes and chores on occasion, and it didn’t seem to bother anyone.
We were in the kitchen, and our instructor, a chubby and friendly woman from Lev, was going over how the Velka traded our skills and products for most of our food and drinks, as few edible products grew in the shade of the forest.
“Uh, I know I can’t, shouldn’t, leave the forest yet, but I was told …. well … that I could ….. um …”
The other four girls in my morning acclimation session all giggled and our instructor slapped the table with mirth. “Spit it out, Ryalgar. You’re getting horny? What’s your pleasure?”
“Um. There’s a man. We were lovers before I came here. I’d like to get word to him. To find a way to see him.”
“To see him. Right. Well, orientation instructors like me assist with all such requests for seeing. So, we’ve got Velka going out to markets in each nichna in the realm. Where would this man of yours be found?”
“He’s in Pilk.”
“Plenty going that direction. Must be a dozen markets there. Can you be more specific?”
“Uh, I think you’d find him at the palace.”
“Ah. You’re hooking up with a Svadlu, are you? Those military types can be sexy. I’ve had a few myself.”
I looked down at my hands.
“Not to worry,” she added, trying to guess why I hesitated to say more. “When I said we Velka value discretion, I meant it. Word of your soldier friend will not leave the forest. You can count on it.”
“Actually, he’s a prince.”
“You’re sleeping with a member of the Pilk royal family? Seriously?”
I had everyone’s full attention now.
“His name is Nevik.”
She slammed her hand down a second time and laughed out loud. “You’re telling me the golden granddaughter we recruited is also secretly sleeping with the guy who just got betrothed to some fancy princess from another realm?”
I nodded. “That sounds like Nevik.”
“Well, you do know how to make things difficult, don’t you?”
S.R. Cronin writes some of the most thought-provoking and fascinating speculative fiction I’ve read. After thoroughly enjoying the 46 Ascending series, I was thrilled to see more books coming from Cronin’s writing lair. She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much takes place in a part of history I haven’t read much fiction about, so I was doubly excited to dive in, learn, and be entertained.
I wasn’t disappointed on any of these fronts. Now, if you’re looking for lots of action or explosions, you won’t get that here. What you will get is an intricate and interesting look at the planning that precedes war. So many details and pieces of the proverbial machine at work. This could have very easily fallen into the “too much detail” trap, but the realistic characters and relationships gave the story a balance of info and humanity. I loved the seven sisters and how they relate to one another. The romance leaves me wondering. Not in a bad way, more in a what’s-going-to-happen-there way. Love is tough enough when there isn’t politics involved, and there’s lots of politics involved.
The magic is subtle but incredible. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done. The enclave of women living in the forest offered both a not-overwhelming sense of “girl power” and a right-amount of sisterhood. Despite being historical, the dialogue has a contemporary feel while still capturing the essence of history.
All in all, lots of good stuff in here. The series contains seven books, each focusing on a different sister’s contribution to an impending conflict, and I’m excited to read more.
About S. R. Cronin
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.
She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how odd she is.
All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.
S. R. Cronin will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.