The first novella, We, the Women
, is just incredibly, incredibly, bad. I know Norton wasn't really involved in the Witch World, The Turning
series, but I cannot imagine how she could permit her name to be attached to this.
We have a village of Falconer women, at the time of the Turning, caring for a group of exiles (presumably from Karsten, except that that appears to be geographically impossible) and finding themselves completely incapable of understanding the gender dynamics of a patriarchal society. Nevermind that the women of the Falconer race live apart from the men, filling all the roles — except as warriors — that men in the surrounding societies would take: Falconer women must, of necessity, understand that men are not just "he-women" because they know (if only from their worst excesses) Falconer men. It's simply not at all believable.
As well, apparently the Falconer women have had secret villages as long as the Falconers have lived on the Estcarp border, so that the Falconer men only ever see the women in Potemkin villages. Does a herder not know when 90% of his herd is missing? Everything we've been told of Falconers, in previous Witch World stories, suggests that however despicable some (possibly even most) Falconers may be, they're not stupid — they treat their women as chattel, even routinely referring to them as "mares", and it is inconceivable that they're only seeing a small number of the women.
Then a group of Estcarp Borderers finds the Potemkin village after the Turning, offering to help rebuild it. One of the Borderer troop wonders what has happened to destroy the village so thoroughly, and only belatedly realizes "Oh. The Turning." Duh? [He was, in fact, wrong, but in a cataclysm that could raise new mountain ranges, how did he expect buildings to survive?]
The one glimmer of light in the story is the clear depiction of the Goddess Jonkara as the protector of women — where the Falconer men believe she was the Dark One who almost destroyed their race. Unfortunately, at no time is this resolved. Even in the Afterword (which I think was written by Norton), we're given just one more tiny clue, and left hanging.
Awful, awful, offal!