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Jirel of Joiry (1969)

by C. L. Moore

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Jirel von Joiry (1-4, 6)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6671535,398 (3.55)37
Fantasy. Fiction. Short Stories. HTML:

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)
  1. 40
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 00
    Swordsmistress of Chaos by Richard Kirk (SV1XV)
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» See also 37 mentions

English (13)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Criticisms of this book seem to revolve around a degree of repetativeness and of being too slowly-paced for the Sword and Sorcery genre of the classic Conan era of Robert E. Howard. I certainly did notice a reuse of themes and plot-elements between the stories:
• Interdimensional travel
• Sexually aggressive male antagonists intent on rape (which, ickily, there is some suggestion from the author that despite her protestations, Jirel is not always averse to)

Actually, that's all I can really think of, because other reused devices feel more like genre conventions and authorial style. Certainly, the first two stories repeat but then they are really two episodes in a story arc, and either one read in isolation diminishes the stength of the two together.

"Black Gods Kiss" ends with one of those icky moments in which Jirel's anger at a would-be rapist turns to passion for him, but "Black God's Shadow" goes some way to explaining the rather different emotions Jirel is feeling. Together, the two stories have Jungian anima/animus/ hero's- quest flavour, which I enjoyed, and which feels like it might have influenced Moorcock's Elric stories.

"Jirel Meets Magic" is more typical fantasy fare, similar device of travel to an Otherworld, but the tone and antagonist are different.

"The Dark Land" has another of those sexually aggressive males, but of an altogether different order, and the otherworldly landscape here is decidedly surreal rather than simply alien.

These four stories have less of the hack-and-slay about them than might commonly be expected of a Conan tale (though, actually, I think Howard does more than that with Conan, anyway), but they are closer to Howard's more reflective King Kull tales. In her rich descriptions of landscape, which does slow the action, I think a better comparison for Moore's style would be with her contemporary pulp author, Clark Ashton Smith, though without his abstruse vocabulary.

The final story, "Hellsgarde", seems to me a solid weird Sword and Sorcery story, and I thought had a good twist to it.

So, High Literature? No. Fun, atmospheric Weird storytelling? Yes. ( )
1 vote Michael.Rimmer | Mar 10, 2021 |
Echoing what some others have said: I found the descriptions worked well, Jirel herself not terribly interesting, and the plots godawful dull. The climax was almost always some variation of Jirel thinks/endures/waits/focuses/looks/imagines/stands/concentrates, which is about a dull a climax as you can wish for. The author appears not to care for multiple characters and/or dialogue very much, and eschews them as much as possible. It's mostly Jirel standing somewhere, with description of what she sees.

She also has an apparent obsession with blackness (story 1: the black god, story 2: the black god again, story 3: black stones, black stump, black hair, black-robed wizard, black sky (despite it being daytime), black mountains, black blob at the doorway, story 4: entire black dimension, black villain with black beard, black mountains, black ocean, black black black black black etc. ...

If she had written some variant of William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land it might have been amazing. But as far as sword and sorcery goes, yowzer, this is tiresome meat. So 5 stars for description, 1 star for plot/character, kind of a low 3.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). I feel a lot of readers automatically render any book they enjoy 5, but I grade on a curve! ( )
1 vote ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
Long, long ago, I wrote a master's paper about women in fantasy fiction. This book was one of the 40 I analyzed. Would it hold up to my memories? The answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Written for the classic pulp magazine "Weird Tales" during the 1930s, these stories were groundbreaking in some ways and a product of their times in others. The lush prose certainly is reminiscent of the fantasy of the time and hints at Lovecraftian horror. The descriptions are evocative of the places Jirel travels.

Jirel is amazing for the time. A true sword-and-sorcery character, she is a formidable warrior in what seems to be a fantasy France, holds her own keep and leads her warriors in battle, and is no man's play toy. Yet she is sensitive enough to realize that she makes mistakes and will work, even risking her life, to correct those errors. She is truly unique.

This collection contains Moore's stories: Black God’s Kiss, Black God's Shadow, Jirel meets magic, The dark land, and Hellsgarde.

This book is highly recommended for its historical significance. Sword and sorcery fans should give it a whirl as long as they don't mind that many of Jirel's adventures are more of a swordswoman facing sorcery. If you like sword and sorcery and Lovecraft, then this is a "must read" collection. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Sep 5, 2020 |
Statuesque ginger
so horned up she can't think straight
murderous hotpants. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
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 tootstorm | Nov 27, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (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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Fantasy. Fiction. Short Stories. HTML:

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.

.

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