DOSSOYUE: BOOK ONE By Charles Saunders (2010, Sword and Soul)
Dossouye is a great book from Black writer Charles Saunders. Not exactly a novel, it’s a collection of short stories and novellas, some of which have been published before. Saunders is best known for his books and tales about Imaro, the African hero who wonders across the mythical land of Cush. Most of his stories are based on actual ancient civilizations, much as were Robert E. Howard’s. Of course there is a difference: magic and sorcery work.
The stories are about Dossuye, a woman warrior in The Abomey Leopard King’s army. Since all the women in this branch of the military are concubines of the king, they are full-time soldiers. No man may touch one of his ahosi, or female soldiers. The steed of the ahosi is a water Buffalo which has been specially bred for this role. Most of Dossoyue’s adventures are in the company of Gbo, her war bull.
In the first story, “Agbewe’s Sword”, Abomey is attacked by the kingdom of Abanti, who defeat the army using lighting called down from the sky by a sorcerer. It’s up toDossouye to locate the legendary sword of the spider goddess Agbewe and send the invaders back. Dossouye eventually prevails, but the cost of her victory is exile from her homeland.
The remainder of the stories involve a cursed musician, demons who inflict horrid demands from villagers, and a journey into the forest of death. Dossouye triumphs every time, but not by herself. The image of the lone Amazon, wondering the earth on the back of her war bull, is powerful, but not invincible. She may travel armed only with a sword and leather loin protector, but Dossouye always finds people to help her.
This is an excellent book of short stories. Any one would fit well in Weird Tales.
(First published 4/09)