I'd been hearing for years about The Steerswoman as a thoughtful fantasy book deeply beloved by a lot of people whose taste I respect. I finally got around to reading it, and I wasn't disappointed in the least. Rowan and Bel are fascinating, three-dimensional characters, and so is everyone else, even the minor characters. More than that, I deeply respect Rosemary Kirstein's worldbuilding here. There's genuine culture clash, and genuine culture variation
-- not only do different individuals view things differently, but no culture is a monolith. Every adult character actually acts like an adult, pausing to think things through and weighing duty versus emotion versus morality in responsible ways. It makes me sad in a way that that's so rare in fiction, but it was so refreshing here. And, of course, Rosemary Kirstein is excellent at giving you sudden gutpunches of plot reveals that are, in hindsight, very much built upon groundwork she laid when you weren't looking.
This is actually a compilation of the first two books of this series: The Steerswoman, and The Outskirter's Secret. I'm glad of that, because I devoured both, and was delighted to get to do so sequentially! Now, of course, I need to get my hands on the next two.