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Delaney desperately wants the admiration of her mother, “Blood Queen” Eilat, even if recognition means beheading a man. Now of age, she must assume her role as heiress of Clan Dodatrad, thrust into a world of fragile alliances. Clan Glitrós sees this warmongering family as a filthy spot on the patchwork quilt of clans that knits the land of Ashby in a tentative peace. They warn Delaney that many mysteries surround her birth, and druids had a hand in it.

With the help of her friends, Delaney digs into her clan’s dark secrets, Eilat’s bloody past, her brother’s mysterious coven of sorcerer druids, avaricious schemers at every turn, and a “ghost” in the dungeon who apparently knows the truth. She falls in love despite the tradition of arranged marriages, tries to balance explosive clan politics, battles forest bandits, competes in archery contests, and deals with the trials of womanhood in a medieval world.

The idea of a medieval matriarchy came to mind whilst daydreaming in History of the British Isles class, thinking of Boadicea and clans, how the Isles would have been different if women were running things, and whether that would result in fiercer battle raging with hormonal fury, or a deeper need to protect the next generation. As Frank Herbert wrote, “While they can be violent and vicious, women are profoundly different from men in their dedication to battle. The cradle of genesis ultimately predisposes them to behavior more protective of life.

In the end, I felt gender was not the secret recipe for peace. Instead, it would be the same meal with a different seasoning. We would simply not see a patriarchy, but an oppressive matriarchy. Delaney struggles with social expectations of strength for women, one could say “toxic femininity” where people expect her to fight and kill and be tough.

Daughters of Ashby and the rest of the Ashby Chronicles looks at gender and how ridiculous gender roles are, all whilst defending clan honor, working out marriage alliances, and stopping the occasional forest bandit attack.