Many of Tamora Pierce’s books have strong female characters on the covers because that’s what she writes about, but The Woman Who Rides Like a Man from the “Song of the Lioness” series stood out for me. This cover image is by David Wyatt who has done at least one of the other pieces of art that will appear in this series. I love this piece for a lot of reasons. What makes this image special isn’t just that the girl is dressed in the armor of a knight or that she’s astride a barded horse, although those are remarkable enough in their way. What I noticed first was that she was looking right at the viewer, not off to one side or down. That’s actually remarkably rare (although extremely common for men in fantasy art). I also love her pose! The horse is clearly in motion, but the rider is still in full command, she’s not even thinking about it. Riding comes second nature to her at this point. That’s important, especially if she plans to ride into battle. The other thing I love is the upraised sword being struck by lightning. It’s very much a sign of power and control, since she is completely unconcerned by the lightning and clearly in control of her weapon. Her expression is serious because she’s dealing with a serious situation (most situations involving barded horses, armor, swords and lightning are). A smile would have seemed quite out of place. She’s even able to handle a cat being on her saddle, although that can’t be entirely convenient. This is clearly a competent warrior woman who is well practiced and knows exactly what she’s doing. She will protect those behind her and is prepared for what’s ahead, whatever that may be. I definitely want to play her!