Last year, there was a student who sat outside the prep room reading. She read Michelle West, but she had yet to read this series. This is a shame because while the Sun Sword series is sprawling, it is a beautiful work.This book is the first volume in the Sun Sword series and focuses on the shifts of power in a country that resembles an Arabia from the 1001 Nights (yes, I know the Nights are really from India). One of the central characters, Dio, is the most beautiful woman in the world. She also is the favored child of her father and eventually marries the prince of the kingdom, who doesn't deserve her or the kingdom. Her father and his friends have something to say about the kingdom bit.What makes this series worth reading is the type of women that inhabit it. Dio is not a fighter in the traditional sense of the word. She does have a magic, think of it as a siren voice, but does she know how to use a sword, no. Yet, Dio is more of a fighter because of this. She plays the long game, if I may borrow a phrase.This series deserves more popularity than it garners. It is better than any of those big sprawling male written series such as those by Jordon, Goodkind, or Martin. Her books are close to those in length, yet the focus is different. It is not "female" fantasy, whatever that is, but more of, in a part, of difference in heroes and heroism. In the fantasy books that make the New York Times Bestseller list and become television, there are big epic betters with swords. West has those, but in sharp contrast to those battles, the most heart-wrenching scene in the series occurs in this book when Dio must keep still. She cannot speak. She cannot movie. She must do this because it is the only way for her to win in the end.West's series might be more traditional and genre based, but she presents one of the few books where people, women in particular, are strong in different ways.