Poke the Publisher: Patricia C. Wrede

As a girl child, I had something of a conflicted relationship with fantasy novels. On the one hand, I loved the fantasy and the fighting and the magical creatures, but on the other hand, it was somehow hard to imagine where someone like me would fit into these wondrous stories. When my own small local library was almost entirely populated by "Dragonlance" novels and the complete works of Piers Anthony, it was hard to see myself as one of the scantily-clad fantasy women, alternating as they did between vacuous stupidity (so that the male protagonist could save them) and impossible badassness, mowing down legions of Satan in a chainmail bikini, natch.

And then I discovered Patricia C. Wrede's "Enchanted Forest Chronicles". The "Enchanted Forest Chronicles" are, without exaggeration, the greatest work of artistic endeavor in the history of anything ever. Or, at least, that's how I felt as a kid. They feature the life and story of Princess Cimorene, a young princess who perfectly fails to be anything a princess should be. When she gets bored with embroidery classes and etiquette lectures, she bullies her father's advisers into teaching her how to fence, how to work magic, or how to cook cherries jubilee. Each time her parents find her out, and each time she is sternly ordered back to her princessly lessons. She puts up with this as best she can, but when her parents finally decide to marry her off to a rich, idiotic prince, Cimorene decides it would be best to just run away.

From the first page, I loved Cimorene. She wasn't a Mary Sue - her few years of magic lessons and sword lessons and cooking lessons hadn't left her a competent jack-of-all-trades; they'd just left her frustrated and unsure of what, exactly she wanted to do with her life. At the same time, she wasn't a traditional, obedient daughter - as much as she loves her parents and as much as they love her, she is very much at odds with them over what path her life will take. Cimorene has wit and verve and determination; as various foolish princes and knights show up one after another to "rescue" her and take her back to live with them happily ever after, she patiently (and then NOT-so-patiently) explains to them that she's perfectly happy where she is at the moment, thank you very much.

From the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, I branched out and read anything of Wrede's that I could get my hands on. She is a delightful writer, whether she is writing traditional fantasy or humorous fantasy: all her characters are real and genuine and so very well-characterized. She even writes those unstoppable badass women so well that it's easy to sink into the story and feel like you're a part of it, instead of just a silent observer.

Some of Wrede's books have been converted to ebook form for sale, but several of her best novels are still languishing in paperback form. As such, I've dug out links for what I consider to be some of her best work for your poking pleasure:

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
The Raven Ring
Caught in Crystal
Daughter of Witches

Barnes and Noble
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
The Raven Ring
Caught in Crystal
Daughter of Witches

Bonus points will be awarded for contacting Patricia Wrede directly to tell her that she deserves at least four Nobel Peace Prizes and maybe an Emmy or an Oscar too. And while you have that email open, you can ask her if she knows of a timeline for converting her older works into modern ebook formats.

Remember: Readers who post in the comments that they've poked the publisher via any or all of these links will be mentioned in a subsequent "Poke the Publisher" entry, which is far better than becoming a vampire and only getting a lousy +6 bonus to Motherhood.

Also remember: By poking the publisher, you are not indicating that YOU are waiting to buy this book in e-Book format, but rather that your dear friend Ana is waiting to buy this book in e-Book format to review, dissect, deconstruct, and otherwise desecrate for your reading pleasure. And buy it I shall, just as soon as it comes available in the U.S. of A., presuming, of course, that the nuclear holocaust hasn't wiped us all out by then.

Credit for last week's Poke the Publisher feature must go to Brin Bellway, Matt Smyczynski, hapax, Marie Brennan, Cupcakedoll, Nenya, Charleen Merced, and Gela. I don't mean to point out the obvious, but each of these awesome readers have all the preternatural beauty and rippling six-pack abdominal muscles of a Wolfrider elf, but with at least 50% more height. Keep on rocking those soul names, guys!


Matt Smyczynski said...

Poked! On Amazon... couldn't find the poke button on B&N today.

BrinBellway said...

 couldn't find the poke button on B&N today.

Neither could I. It seems they've changed the page layout. Now I can't poke either of them. (I tried signing up for an account. Didn't help.)

Ana Mardoll said...

How odd! I took the screenshots this morning, but you're right - the page layout is completely different now! Weirdness.

Amaryllis said...

Poked (I think, anyway) on Amazon.

And while I quite liked Princess Cimorene, in those books my heart belongs to Kazul.

Cupcakedoll said...

Poked.  I loved Caught in Crystal, it was one of the first things I found on the climb from the childrens' section to adult SF&F, a journey I took via my mother's fantasy novels.  She was well supplied with Wrede, Anne McCaffrey, Sword And Sorceress, and some Barbara Hambly.  Early Hambly, before those awful sequals to Dragonslayer. *shudder*

*grin* my friends read so much ElfQuest some of us actually HAD soul names.  And maybe some of us still do but are too deep undercover as adults to admit it.  Maybe!

Charleen Merced said...


Kristy Griffin said...

*grins* I see Cupcakedoll beat me to it - I was totally going to suggest Barbara Hambly's "The Ladies of Mandrigyn" and "The Witches of Wenshar" as fantasy that, despite being told from a male protagonist's POV, is (in my opinion) exceptionally good at portraying women as complex, realistic characters.  It's not even just that they have smart, strong women - they do - but that the female characters, even the flawed ones, seem real and unstereotyped.  (I'd actually read the books several times before I realized this - it seemed so normal because that's what I expect women to be, that's who they are in real life, but so few fantasy books actually show this.)

Anyway. when you were talking about a fantasy series with a strong female protagonist, I wanted to suggest these also, so here ya go. :)

Gela said...

Poking accomplished!  I love the Enchanted Forest Chronicles - in fact, I've been reading them out loud to my husband as a chill-out time in the evenings.  Cimorene has been one of my favorite heroines since I was 11.  I would be very happy to see them come out for Kindle!

Dav said...

Oh, I love Patricia Wrede, and still check her name in the bookstore to see if I can find anything new by her.  For my money, my favorite was Mareilon the Magician.  (The second one was . . . not as good.  Mentor/mentee romance squicks me something fierce.)

sarah said...

I discovered The Enchanted Forest Chronicles when I was probably 12 or
13. Loved them to death. I still have battered old copies somewhere... 

Loredena Frisealach said...

I have long loved these, and was looking for them for the kindle to give to my young nieces (who live overseas) when I saw your blog post.  I have poked the publisher on amazon, now if only they would listen!

Fluffy_goddess said...

I've been reviewing old Twilight deconstructions, found this, and just had to say I seriously love finding another Enchanted Forest Chronicles fan. It's the series I hand out like candy to relatives who just gave their daughters Twilight, and I have loved it to pieces since I was a little girl.

(Possibly because I always figured growing up to be Morwen would be totally awesome and very doable. I just needed more cats!)

Ana Mardoll said...

I know! I maxed out at 2, but I feel like I could handle more, if only I could understand them talk like Morwen can hers. :D

Brenda said...

I want to add a few recommendations. Patricia Wrede has done several fantasy books in a Regency setting:

Mairelon the Magician
Magician's Ward
(Omnibus of these two is called Magic and Malice)

Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country)
- Epistolary novel cowritten with Caroline Stevermer. There are two sequels.

Snow White and Rose Red - a delightful adaptation in Elizabethan times.

Frontier Magic - one of the few historical fantasy series that takes place on the American Frontier. I can't actually think of any other besides Orson Scott Card's "Alvin Maker" series. These are narrated by a girl who is an "unlucky" thirteenth child with a twin brother who is the seventh son of a seventh son, and whose family moves out to a town on the edge of the growing western frontier. Very practical character, very good example of a somewhat unreliable narrator, and fascinating tidbits of alternate history and new types of magic.

Thirteenth Child
Across the Great Barrier
The Far West

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