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13 October 2011

Claudia J(ane) Edwards was born in 1943 and died (so at least one site claims) six months after the release of her fourth book. I can find almost nothing on her either as a person or an author save that she was married to Tex Hill. What I do know is that she produced a very small body of work over a handful of years, four books, no short stories I can trace, and she wrote no more after the fourth book, which had been intended/announced as the first in a series.
But the books she did produce were quality. I can well believe that she did die after the fourth. All four books received a large number of very favorable reviews, all four, considering that, should have sold very well, and it is unlikely that any publisher with an author who is selling well, would have arbitrarily cancelled a new series that readers were buying in numbers.
I purchased Edwards’ first book, TAMING THE FOREST KING, at the time it appeared in 1986. This is Military fantasy, a very solid story of Tevra, Colonel in the Light Cavalry, and her Second-in-Command, Hetwith. They are sent to the Forest province of their kingdom to sort out the depredations of the Governor there. Tevra finds that he’s been bleeding the province dry through huge and illegal taxation, half the population is starving, and the other half, weakened by hunger, has died of plagues over the previous winter.
Tevra hangs the governor, sets out to settle the bandit problem, the attacks by supernaturals, and deal with the Lords who don’t like soldiers in their province, don’t like being ruled from afar, don’t like women soldiers, and would rather be left alone. To help her she finds a secretary, Dard, originally heir to the province, trained to be its king, and possibly the basis of provincial rebellion against the kingdom. How Tevra handles everything is a great read. I’ve had the book for over twenty years, read it six or seven times, the most recent time being April last year, and it holds up as well as ever.
Edwards did have a basic theme. All of her books show a woman in a world where for one reason or another she has problems, some of which are based on a woman’s problems differing from those of the average male, yet these aren’t ‘feminist’ books. The thread through FOREST KING is not that she is resented because she is female, but that as a woman who is also a ranking soldier, she is determined not use her rank to obtain personal desires – and that she is, through most of the book, uncertain of what those desires are. In the third book, BRIGHT AND SHINING TIGER, the thread is that Runa, who has lived alone so long, has now found herself responsible for a small castle full of people, and must learn to cohabit with them and the stranger she has married for their sake, to accept love, and to deal with her enemies rather than simply moving on again as she has always done before.
In all of the books the heroine is skilled with, and knowledgeable about, horses. It was clear to me that Edwards really knew what she was talking about there – something that, as someone who rode for much of my own life, I increasingly notice isn’t always so in fantasy books. Again it’s a great pity that this author didn’t write more, she had the plots, the characters, and the background knowledge to produce terrific work, and judging from reviews, a very large number of readers were looking forward to her new series continuing. Secondhand copies of Edwards’ book are readily available and I recommend the first and third on the list below in particular.

Bibliography
Novels:

Taming the Forest King [Warner Books, 1986; Headline, 1987;
Popular Library/Questar, 1986]

A Horsewoman in Godsland [Warner Books, 1987; Headline, 1988;
Popular Library/Questar, 1987]

Bright and Shining Tiger [Warner Books, 1988; Headline, 1988;
Popular Library/Questar, 1988]

the “Bastard Princess” series:
* Eldrie the Healer [Pageant Books, 1989]

3 Comments »

  1. Hi Lyn, thanks so much for writing this. There’s so little out there about this author that it’s been difficult to track down reliable information.

    Could you tell me whether the first three books you mention are part of a series? I am almost finished with the first book now and there’s some debate among some of my friends about whether or not Horsewoman and Tiger are meant to be a series, or if they’re even set in the same universe. Any help you could give is greatly appreciated so that we can pass that onto other readers who are interested in reading her books.

    You can see the discussion here if you’re interested.

    Best,

    Wendy

    Comment by Wendy Darling — 11 March 2012 @ 21:11

  2. Hi Wendy, your question is difficult, but I would say that there’s nothing definite to say that the first three books were set in the same world, however all three backgrounds do have a similar feel and it’s possible they were set in the different countries or areas of a generic world that the author created. They certainly don’t seem to have been written as a series since that implies some fairly solid amount of crossover either in characters or background.
    However I discarded my copy of A HORSEWOMAN IN GODSLAND years ago, it was well-written but I disliked the theme, and it’s possible, since I haven’t read that one for about 20 years, that it may have had minor items in common with one or the other of the books that bracketed it.
    Lyn

    Comment by lyn — 12 March 2012 @ 16:30

  3. Thanks very much, Lyn! I appreciate the speedy response. I think that clears it up quite satisfactorily.

    Comment by Wendy Darling — 12 March 2012 @ 22:27

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