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Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore
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Jirel of Joiry (1969)

by C. L. Moore

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4691033,339 (3.52)26
  1. 20
    Sword and Sorceress I by Marion Zimmer Bradley (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry is one of the original sword and sorcery heroines. This Sword and Sorceress anthology is dedicated to Moore and Joiry, and follows in the tradition of woman-fronted sword and sorcery.
  2. 20
    The sword woman by Robert E. Howard (kroseman)
    kroseman: Dark Agnes de Chastillon draws inspiration from Jirel of Joiry. Howard corresponded with C.L. Moore, who responded enthusiastically about the Dark Agnes character.
  3. 31
    Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock (thesmellofbooks)
    thesmellofbooks: Two unusual heroes. Elric, an albino, Jirel, a woman. Lively and exciting tales of sword and sorcery.
  4. 00
    Swordsmistress of Chaos by Richard Kirk (SV1XV)
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» See also 26 mentions

English (9)  French (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Jirel could be considered the foundation for all 'strong female characters' in genre fiction today, but only in the most shallow sense of the term.

I appreciate that C.L. Moore broke ground in 1930s sword and sorcery, a hyper-masculine genre full of hyper-masculine (shitty) men, but any attempt to combat the intense sexism of the genre only goes as far as: C.L. Moore was objectively a woman, and Jirel objectively a female character who sometimes swung a sword and killed things.

That Jirel was 'strong' is negated by her characterization and the obnoxiously-purple writing style. She was still written to excite pubescent boys, after all. Jirel's main features are that she has piercing eyes and flame-red hair -- two descriptions that seem to crop up on every page at least once, sometimes together ("Yellow fury blazed in her eyes"). She also falls in love with whatever crosses her path for no reason at all.

I don't care if Jirel paved the way for more female sci-fi and fantasy writers in the '50s and beyond: These stories are terrible. The plots are terrible; the writing is terrible; the characters are empty and lifeless and, of course, terrible. Each succeeding story is simply a repeat of the first terrible story with little-to-no variation. This book was fucking excruciating.

"Yes," he said at last, "you have traveled too often in forbidden lands, Jirel of Joiry, to be ignored by us who live in them. And there is in you a hot and savage strength which no other woman in any land I know possesses. A force to match my own, Lady Jirel. None but you is fit to be my queen. So I have taken you for my own."

Congratulations, you've just read every page of the Jirel stories in one paragraph. ( )
1 vote alaskayo | Nov 27, 2017 |
I found Jirel fascinating as a heroine of 1930s pulp fantasy. Throughout her adventures, Jirel's opponents constantly seek to victimize her, use her as bait, lure her in, or overpower her. Often she can't escape witnessing or even being part of horrific things, but she takes these impossible situations and confronts them on her own terms. I thought this was a nice alternative to always evading danger or using feminine wiles to get out of tight corners. Jirel is physically and emotionally capable without being a know-it-all or preternaturally lucky.

Moore paints incredibly vivid pictures of fantastical realms and creatures. I think this collection would translate well into a graphic novel. However, some of the descriptions got a little clunky and repetitive. This seems like it might be a byproduct of being published originally as pulp scifi/fantasy, and if they were published today an editor would have smoothed out some of the problems in the prose.
(Review also posted on Goodreads) ( )
  junerain | Aug 27, 2014 |
That cover is not my favorite choice for Jirel; on the other hand, the art itself was so lovely I went off and found a cover that showed front and back.

These stories had enormous influence on me as a child. The imagery, and the strong female character, provided an alternative world to the reality of those long ago times. When I realized that I'd found all the possible stories of Jirel (and of Northwest Smith), I actually wept.

Wherever you are, Catherine Moore, thank you. ( )
1 vote Lyndatrue | Dec 9, 2013 |
The stories are brilliant if you love dense, nearly tangible imagery. Even if you don't, they're classics that deserve any honours bestowed upon them. This particular edition boasts gorgeous illustrations, the closest I've seen to what Jirel actually looks like in my head as I read. It's a beautiful book and well worth the purchase if you come across it secondhand. ( )
  akerwis | Jan 7, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. L. Mooreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Austin, AliciaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hickman, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leonard, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They brought in Joiry's tall commander, struggling between two men-at-arms who tightly gripped the ropes which bound their captive's mailed arms. ("Black god's kiss")
Through Jirel's dreams a faraway voice went wailing. ("Black god's shadow")
Over Guischard's fallen drawbridge thundered Joiry's warrior lady, sword swinging, voice shouting hoarsely inside her helmet. ("Jirel meets magic")
In her great bed in the tower room of Joiry Castle, Jirel of Joiry lay very near to death. ("The dark land")
Jirel of Joiry drew rein at the edge of the hill and sat awhile in silence, looking out and down. ("Hellsgarde")
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441385702, Mass Market Paperback)

C. L. Moore created Jirel, ruler of Joiry, in reaction to the beefy total-testosterone blood-and-thunder tales of '30s pulp magazines, but Jirel is no anti-Conan. She's a good Catholic girl, stubbornly purposeful, relentless in pursuit of enemies or vengeance, hard-boiled and a little stupid, and cannot be distracted by mere physical attractiveness. Indeed, in Jirel's world, beauty = decadence = corruption. Were these stories written today, inevitably Jirel would have a lot of hot sex, but as they were first published in Weird Tales between 1934-1939, sexual attraction is mostly only vividly implied. No loss. Jirel's journeys through unnatural landscapes and her battles with supernatural opponents are still wonderful to read, and though newcomers Red Sonja and Xena are more famous now, Jirel rules as the archetypal, indomitable redheaded swordswoman in chain mail and greaves, swinging her "great two-edged sword."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:10 -0400)

The 1930's heralded the arrival of C.L. Moore, one of the pioneering women writers of speculative fiction, and the appearance of fantasy's landmark female hero: Jirel of Joiry. With her red hair flowing, her yellow eyes glinting like embers, and her face streaked with blood, Jirel is strong, fearless, and driven by honor. Her legendary debut, BLACK GOD'S KISS, begins as her castle, Joiry, is overrun by invaders, but knowing that this is one battle she cannot fight, she summons her courage and cunning and descends into the castle's hidden reaches, where she crosses through a doorway into Hell itself... JIREL OF JOIRY collects the classic tales of blood and vengeance that secured C.L. Moore's place among legendary authors of sword and sorcery like Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Originally published in the magazine Weird Tales, Moore's fantastic tales of warriors, gods, and magic are defined by a fierce, romantic vision that helped define the genre, earning her the title of Grand Master for lifetime achievement by the World Fantasy Convention. Includes BLACK GOD'S KISS, BLACK GOD'S SHADOW, JIREL MEETS MAGIC, THE DARK LAND, and HELLSGARDE.… (more)

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