Your question brings this series to mind - a great set of books BTW. I just clipped this out of another discussion and review and copied it here. This series does begin like a S & S Fantasy, then they discover artifacts from a crashed ship/satellite and begin to track down the clues that will tell them their world is not at all what they thought. Great books!!
From a discussion on SF-Books.com
Quoted material starts here:
Started yesterday, The Language of Power, by Rosemary Kirstein. It is the latest in the Steerswoman series. And it's great, wonderful stuff just like the preceding three books.
I cannot recommend these books highly enough. The characters are so well developed and the concept is unique in my reading experience. These are books that look like fantasy, but are actually sf set in a long lost colony world that has so completely lost its technology that chemistry and electricity are 'magic' that wizards do.
Here is a review that says it better than I can that I grabbed from Amazon. The book reviewed is the omnibus The Steerswoman's Road that contains the original two books, The Steerswoman and The Outskirter's Secret.
Living for Knowledge, September 19, 2003
Reviewer: James D. DeWitt (Fairbanks, AK United States) - See all my reviews
Rowan is a Steerswoman. If you ask her a question, she has to answer with the truth; if she asks you a question, you, too, have to answer. If you don't, no steerswoman anywhere will answer your questions. Under these simple rules, steerswomen have become the navigators, cartographers, explorers and researchers of their world. Knowledge is a steerswoman's life.
There is another group that holds knowledge on this world: the wizards. They can work magic. But they don't share their knowledge, they won't answer any questions, and they are under the steerwomen's ban. Early on, a reader will recognize the wizards' "magic" as simply technology, a technology that the wizards deny to the rest of the world.
"The Steerwoman's Road" is a compendium of two earlier books set in this world, "The Steerswoman" and "The Outskirter's Secret." In "The Steerswoman," Rowan is investigating bluish-black jewels that she has found in odd places along a long line across the Inner Lands of her world. For some reason, this simple investigation causes the wizards to attempt to kill her. Allied with Bel, a barbarian from the "Outskirts," the primitive part of the world, she narrowly escapes repeated attempts on her life. Finally, with the help of her sister steerswomen, Bel and an unlikely, even unwanted ally, she tries to solve the mystery of the wizards and their magic.
In "The Outskirter's Secret," Rowan and Bel journey beyond the edge of the known world, to and beyond the Outskirts in their quest to solve the mystery of the blue-black jewels and a possible fallen guidestar. But it is the journey that is important, because in the course of that journey Rowan learns more about her world; she begins to understand the truth about the world she and her sister steerwomen have taken for granted. And she begins to understand just how serious a threat the wizards, and one wizard in particular, may be.
These are brilliant stories. Exceptional plotting, vivid characters, a well-imagined, consistent world and important themes. Because the reader understands technology, Rowan's struggles to come to grips with wizards and their "magic" are particularly delightful. A reader will recognize the "blue-black jewels" at once as integrated circuits, and the "fallen guidestar" as a fallen geosynchronous satellite. Watching Rowan use principles of logic to comprehend technology is simply delightful. And in the Outskirters and the Outskirts Kirstein has created a beautifully realized culture and environment.
It's wonderful to have these stories back in print; it's even better to have a sequel, "The Lost Steersman," after eleven years of waiting. Very highly recommended.
Great stuff indeed. Though I have to say that I was sure the 'blue-black jewels' are pieces of solar panels.
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