Sword Woman (1977)

by Robert E. Howard

Agnes de Chastillon escapes a life of drudgery, abuse, and crushing poverty when she kills the fat slob to whom she has been betrothed and flees her village into the woods, armed only with a knife provided by her sister to kill herself with.

 And so this promising character embarks on a career of adventure that is sadly truncated by the fact that author Robert E. Howard wrote only two stories about her, which were published after his death.


Robert E. Howard

Dark Agnes is a natural sword-wielder whose talents are honed by the tutelage of accomplished companions.


Her innate courage makes her the equal of any other Howard adventurer.


This is an interesting departure for him; he even writes these stories from the first-person perspective of this female character.


The two stories, “Sword Woman” and “Blades for France,” are pretty standard historical adventures, but standard Howard makes for entertaining reading. A third story, “Mistress of Death,” existed only in draft form before it was completed by Gerald W. Page, who carries on the proud tradition of inadequate posthumous collaborations established by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp in the Conan collections. 

Page can’t seem to wrap his mind around the powerful female Howard had envisioned. Page has her “whimpering like a child” and learning that “there is no shame to act as a woman” while wrapped in the “protecting arms” of a man. 

A couple of non-Agnes trifles fill out the collection to book-length.


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