Helen Lowe, is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013 and Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night Series, Book Three) is recently published. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we.
by Helen Lowe
In “Fantasy Heroines That Rock My World” I’m shining a spotlight on my favorite Fantasy heroines, not only revealing who they are but why I believe they kick butt and take names as characters.
I am breaking the mold a little this time around, though, because usually I reread the book and provide quotes as part of the post. This time, however, I have been unable to unearth my copy of A Shadow in Summer, or beg or borrow the book from otherwhere, so I am relying entirely on memory to extol the merits of Amat Kyaan. That’s the downside.
The upside is that even though I read the book in 2011, the character of Amat Kyaan is still fresh in my memory – and when it comes to kicking butt and taking names, I don’t think you can go past her. In fact, in my humble opine, she totally rocks the A Shadow in Summer story – even if, despite being a leading character, she is not the book’s main protagonist.
When I tell you that Amat Kyaan is an ageing bean-counter in a mercantile establishment (think a pre-modern Shanghai of shipping, commerce, and go-downs to grasp the basic milieu), you may well ask how that can be, particularly when you learn that she has no superpowers (although I suspect mastery of double-entry book-keeping may be a superpower to most of us.)
At face value, none of this sounds like the stuff of which Fantasy heroines are made. But here’s the thing: Amat Kyaan is not just smart – and she is very smart – but she also has integrity. Combine that with tenacity and not inconsiderable courage, as well as nerves of steel and a certain amount of cool daring – as she book-keeps her way into a takeover of the city’s criminal establishment – and I hope you may start to understand why Amat Kyaan rocks my world.
Another aspect of her character that I really like is the “no whining” part. During the course of the book she faces considerable adversity, more than enough to daunt the young, strong, and powerful, let alone an ageing, single woman of uncertain means and with no superpowers (in a world where superpowers are a very real and potent force.)
But Amat Kyaan , although often daunted and even outright terrified at times, never falls into self-pity or self-indulgence. Her character, like her life, is “spare” – and she has an abundance of spinal fortitude (aka backbone.) In this sense, although Daniel Abraham has created another heroine with an aptitude for commerce in Cithrin, from his Coin and Dagger series, in my view Amat Kyaan totally outplays Cithrin in almost every way. (Just sayin’… : ).
If you haven’t read A Shadow in Summer already then I think you should for many reasons – not least to meet Amat Kyaan. For now though, I hope I’ve convinced you that she is not only a rocking Fantasy heroine generally, but more than merits her place in my Fantasy Hall of Fame.