AUGUST 2017: WOMAN OF THE WOODS

If the Sword-and-Soul sub-genre were a relay race, I would be the  starting  runner. The person to whom I would hand the baton for the next  leg  is  Milton Davis. This is not the most appropriate analogy,  though. I  haven't handed off any baton. Milton and I are running this  race  together, side-by-side. And ... there's no finish line. My hope is  that  Sword-and-Soul will go on indefinitely, with more and more  authors  creating more and more novels and short stories, as well as  visual art.
One of Milton's novels, published in 2013, has already become a classic. Its title is Woman of the Woods,   The story unfolds in Milton's alternate-world version of Africa known   as Uhuru, which is also the setting for his ground-breaking Meji novels.
The  title character is a warrior-woman named Sadatina. Adopted as an  infant  by a farming family, Sadatina grows up unaware of her destiny.  One  indication that she is not like other girls is her instinctual  command  of combat skills. Another is the bond she establishes with a  pair of  orphaned female lion cubs, who soon become her four-footed  "sisters."
Beyond  the boundaries of Sadatina's home community,dire events are  occurring.  An unholy alliance of humans, called the Mosele, and demonic  beasts,  called the nyoka, is   seeking to dominate all of Uhuru. This conflict directly impacts   Sadatina when she returns from a trip to find her home destroyed and  her  parents dead at the hands (and claws) of the nyoka.
With  the help of her ferocious "sisters," Sadatina avenges the deaths  of her  parents. Then she becomes the "Woman of the woods," a reclusive  slayer  of nyokas and protector of her people.
One  day, a mysterious stranger comes to her people's country: A warrior   woman who is a member of the Shosa, an order of female soldiers who  from  the distant city of Wangara. Her name is Hazeeta, and it turns out  that  she is Sadatina's natural mother, who had been forced by  unbending  custom to give her daughter up soon after birth. 
After  a bittersweet reunion, Hazeeta takes Sadatina to Wangara, where  it is  expected that the young woman will undergo training to become a  Shosa.  But the free-spirited Sadatina balks at that prospect, and  leaves  Wangara to return to her role as "Woman of the Woods."
Years  later, Sadatina has a change of heart, and she makes a second  journey  to Wangara, this time to stay. Not only does she become a  Shosa, she  rises to the top of the order, reaching the position of   Nana -- a  combination of commander and priestess.
In  the meantime, ominous and momentous events continue to occur  throughout  the land. Two god-like entities, Karan and Rashadu, are  fomenting  mayhem and destruction. Humans and nyokas alike are locked in a dance of death, and Wangara itself is in peril.
With  her lioness sisters at her side, and a talismanic magical sword  named  Judgment in her hand, Sadatina plays a pivotal role in this  cataclysmic  conflict. Before it ends, lives are lost, ancient wrongs  are righted,  and new beginnings rise from painful endings. 
Although Woman of the Woods weighs   in at 275 pages, those pages are packed with enough action, color, and   spectacle to do justice to a novel twice its length. sometimes, it  reads  like an African counterpart to the Norse Ragnarok, the Twilight  of the  Gods. when Rashadu and Karan, along with Cha, the deity of  deities, are  in the house?
Woman of the Woods is   not only one of the best Sword-and-Soul novels I've ever read; it's  one  of the best fantasy novels, period. If you haven't read it yet, do   yourself a favor and order a copy at MVmedia Publishing The Best in Black Speculative Fiction! You'll be glad you did.