Book Review: “Black God’s Kiss” by C. L. Moore (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Black God’s Kiss by C. L. Moore

(Four Stars)

“The soul can be lost but once.”

This story introduces the one tor.com calls, “the first lady of sword-and-sorcery, Jirel of Joiry … in all her ferocious mailed glory and defiance.” Very dark, almost horror. Not my kind of reading, but exceptionally well done, especially considering it was first published in 1934. Stories like this established Moore among the top tier of science fiction/fantasy writers.

“Shrive me, I say! I go into hell tonight to pray to the devil for a weapon, and it may be I shall not return.” “I will give you God’s blessing, but it will not avail you–there.”

Unlike later fantasy, the Jirel stories are firmly planted in this world. References to the former Roman empire and French wine, while slightly anachronistic, set Joiry somewhere in medieval Europe. Moore also takes the church as it would have been then as a given to Jirel’s culture.

“The pull of gravity of the place must have been less than she was accustomed to, but she only knew that she was skimming over the ground with amazing speed.” “She was soon skimming over the grass.”

A third of a century before men walked on the moon, Moore correctly posits the dance-like gait of one moving in low gravity. Prescient? No, smart and observant.

“She was coming to know that death lay in wait for her if she bore this burden long, that it was a two-edged weapon which could strike at its wielder if the blow was delayed too long.”

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