Wilson & Alroy on High Fantasy Novels  

C. L. Moore

C. L. Moore was a pioneer, if nothing else: she was probably the first woman to publish sword & sorcery stories, and her character Jirel of Joiry was the first sword & sorcery heroine that anyone remembers (a forerunner of Howard's similarly tressed Red Sonja, for example). As a pulp writer, though, she's not much. Moore's writing is flat, with endless yet vague descriptions of a succession of gloomy fantasy worlds, no regard for characterization, and a depressingly functional approach to plotting... She's got the superficiality and stylelessness of pulp, without the raw thrills that make it readable. (DBW)

Jirel Of Joiry (1977)
The red-haired, yellow-eyed warrior-noble Jirel was the scourge of medieval France. Or so Moore keeps telling us: in each of these five stories - first published in the '30s, but collected in book form much later - Jirel seems in way over her head, hopelessly overmatched by dread supernatural forces, usually escaping with her life only because of blind luck. She kills exactly one guy in the whole book, and as soon as he's dead, she regrets it! In addition, Jirel doesn't appear to be very bright, which necessitates mysterious characters popping in from various dimensions to tell her what to do every step of the way, and has next to no personality. But if you persist past the first four tales, the last one is a beaut: "Hellsgarde" is an unpredictable haunted house tale with some startling images, and an eerie atmosphere which the earlier stories try but dismally fail to conjure. (DBW)