Ruth Berman's books

Bradamant's Quest

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It sounded like such a straightforward quest when Oberon proposed it—just gather up the magical talismans the fairies had given her family and give them back, now that King Charlemagne's war with Spain was over. But when Bradamant took on the quest, she didn't know that her brother would think it was trafficking with devils. Her cousins the magicians didn't want to give up their carefully indexed books of magic (much less the hippogriff—a useful steed and a loyal companion). Her sister-in-law was willing to give up the spear of Galafrone, but not until she'd finished using it. And her cousin Roland seemed to be haunting his grave, where his magically enduring sword was buried with him, and dead set against being disturbed. What's a warrior to do when valiance alone is not enough for her to complete a quest?

Midwest Book Review

"Bradamant's Quest" is a youthful fantasy from Ruth Berman who presents a story of Bradamant, who is charged in recovering her family's magical talismans after Charlemagne's wars are over. But faced with the forces of magic . . . Bradamant's task is anything but easily done. "Bradamant's Quest" is an excellent pick that shouldn't be overlooked.

Phyllis Ann Karr, author of Frostflower and Thorn, The Idylls of the Queen, and Amberleaf Fair

Prose by a poet. I look forward to rereading this many times

Paul McComas, award-winning author of Unforgettable, Planet of the Dates, and Unplugged.

The titular quest of Bradamant, Ruth Berman's formidable yet quite flesh-and-blood heroine, is to reclaim a series of talismans from various parties and return them to the Faerie realm whence they came. It is at once fitting and ironic that the author, in so beautifully chronicling the End of Magic, herself works a kind of literary spell. Then again, as the fairy Logistilla observes near the book's end, "spells" are related to "spelling," and "Speech was always at the heart of magic." In Bradamant's Quest, Berman "speaks" volumes, deploying deft descritpion, stunning set pieces, an unerring evocation of era (the reign of Charlemagne), and a freewheeling imagination to conjure the most elegant, authentic historical fantasy novel this author has ever read. Magic, indeed...and—in every sense—charming.

Eleanor Arnason, author of A Woman of the Iron People, winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award and Mythopoeic Society Award; and Ring of Swords, winner of the Minnesota Book Award.

Bradamant’s Quest is set in a rarely used fantasy world, that of romances about Charlemagne. It starts after the battle of Ronseval, where the emperor’s nephew Roland has died, along with many peers and knights. Among those who died with Roland is Bradamant’s husband; she is mourning him and the others when Berman’s novel begins.

Bradamant is not an ordinary medieval housewife, but a woman knight, borrowed from Orlando Furioso, a romance about Charlemagne’s knights by the Italian Renaissance poet Ariosto. In Berman’s version. she is an admirable character; intelligent, tough, stoic, resourceful, ambitious for honor and loyal. While she is still grieving for her husband, she is given a quest by Oberon, the king of the fairies. She must recover the magical tools that have belonged to members of her extended family and return them to Oberon. (It’s a large family, full of knights and magicians, and a lot of magical tools have come into the family’s hands.) The world of magic is drawing away from the world of humans; and magic must go back to its original home.

Here is another loss, added to the loss at Ronseval. Magic is leaving the world, as it does at the end of The Lord of the Rings. But before it goes, we meet it, as Bradamant carries out Oberon’s quest. There are gargoyles, a dragon, a sea-orc, mermaids, a hippogryff, a highly unfriendly ox-headed man and a couple of magicians. Recovering each magical tool is an adventure, often risky; and Bradamant has a truly interesting family.

It’s an entertaining journey through a France described in loving, realistic detail. Although Berman is drawing on medieval and Renaissance romance, she gives us real landscapes, real food, and the real problems of dealing with menstrual periods while on a quest. This realism is one of the charms of the novel. Berman anchors her romance in everyday pleasure and discomfort, in the grit and beauty of ordinary life.

I’m not going to tell you the end of the story, except to say it ends happily. It’s a novel about loss and recovering from loss. Though magic is gone or going, ordinary life remains; and ordinary life is pretty darn fine.

Think of the Shire at the end of The Lord of the Rings, when Sam comes home.

What else is there to say? The book is has images that stay in my mind: the marsh filled with gargoyles, the stony waste where the mad Saracen hides out, and Bradamant’s journey roped to a sea-orc, like Ahab to Moby Dick, though with a better ending.

Read it!

Autumn World

Autumn World cover

Original cover, artwork by
Terry Miller and Rita Miller at ImagiMation 3D

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Leah came to Autumn World only to observe. But when her survey ship crashes, and the other survivors, traumatized, run away, she finds herself in the midst of a political and religious struggle on an alien world she barely knows.

Midwest Book Review (Philip E. Kaveny)

The novel is well-crafted and a very good read with lots sf world-building detail which takes place on a heavier-than-earth-gravity planet with some really neat aliens. It is a lot better than 90% of the stuff that you can find on a rack at...the big chain bookstores.

Mythprint (Laura Krentz)

This is a complex and fascinating science fiction story with a well-developed but very alien world. ... Some of the aliens are extremely alien compared to humans, though they usually have understandable motivations. The book would appeal to young readers as well as adult readers.

Autumn World cover

Current cover

Autumn World authors

Autumn World authors.
Left: Ruth Berman, Right: Joan Marie Verba, Back: Deborah K. Jones, Front: Margaret Howes. Not shown: Tess Meara

Something has fallen from the sky. Could it be the Sky Dwellers, as the Old Religion foretold? If so, bloodletting is at hand: the Veen, the New Religion, will destroy anyone and anything that threatens their hold on the capital.

Something has fallen from the sky. Could it be sentients from another world? The Knowledge Brokers have recovered lost technology and used it to send signals, but it could be a Veen trap.

Something has fallen from the sky. Does it matter what it is? The local Veen prelate wants it and everyone who’'s seen it destroyed-except that Knowledge Broker Thiele and her beautiful, beautiful feet.

Their ship has fallen from the sky. Was it sabotage? A human survivor faces an alien world, combating religions, rival philosophies, telepathy between twins, a lost alien race, and an impossible connection with a soldier terribly, horribly orphaned by being a single.

Other Books

Dear Poppa:
The World War II Berman Family Letters


St Paul MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1997.


Sissajig and Other Surprises by Ruth Plumly Thompson

Antioch CA: International Wizard of Oz Club, 2003.

Sherlock Homes in Oz and Others cover
"Sherlock Holmes in Oz" and Others


Order directly from Norwegian Explorers, c/o Phillip Bergem, 3829 172 Ave NW, Andover, MN 55304-1820, $11 (price includes U.S. postage)

Tales of King Cambrinus cover
Tales of King Cambrinus by Charles Deulin


(Tarzana CA: Black Coat Press, 2023)

Bibliography (books)

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