Traditional male fantasy from the 70s

Raven – A Time of Ghosts by Richard Kirk
Corgi, 1978, 203 pages.

I picked this up at a second hand store for $1 and I was willing to overlook the cover of a woman wearing only a helmet carrying a sword jumping into battle. I have purchased fantasy books from the 70’s where the marketing was displaying females in fantasy novels as nothing more than naked sex goddess. I had found that did not really represent the story between the covers. On this occasion it does.
This is the second book in the series and I have not read the first one, nor do I intend to. Raven and her band of warriors are out chasing some evil wizard and seeking some personal justice.
The world Kirk has created is not that bad, there is some interesting elements to it and the story is not that bad. What you really need here are strong characters and this is where things become difficult.
Raven is your golden-haired beauty, wielder of a sword, a body every man lusts after and Kirk has created her as a woman who knows her own sexual desires. Raven’s backstory includes her having been raped and rather savagely by a weapon masters she is seeking revenge on. What bugged me was having been violated in such a way she allows several men to make unwarranted advances. One character Silver decides to cop a feel of her breast and behind, she lets him and jokes about it.  However if a male attempted the same gesture and was not part of Raven’s gang then he cops a beating for being awful to women. Sorry Richard Kirk you just cannot have it both ways.
I did struggle with the writing style as I found it a bit stilted, formal and repetitive  well here is an example “A golden haired warrior who bides her time, riding the vortices of wind and rain and war and peace, bides her time until the time is right and then she strikes.” Now I do not know how many times I read characters extolling the virtues of Raven.
This is a novel of its time and it is interesting to see how much fantasy writing has changed over the last couple of decades.

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