The Warrior's Path by Catherine M. Wilson
Tamras dreams of being apprenticed to a warrior, but she is viewed as too weak to be anything more than a companion. Assigned to a stubborn, anti-social warrior, Tamras grows into herself in this coming-of-age tale set in a fictional world rich with culture.
Tamras arrives in Merin's house to begin her apprenticeship as a warrior, but her small stature causes many, including Tamras herself, to doubt that she will ever become a competent swordswoman. To make matters worse, the Lady Merin assigns her the position of companion, little more than a personal servant, to a woman who came to Merin's house, seemingly out of nowhere, the previous winter, and this stranger wants nothing to do with Tamras.
Despite the title, this is not a book filled with epic battles and combat. There’s hardly any fighting at all, nor a strict plot. The focus of the book is on internal character development and the relationships the characters have with each other. That’s not for everyone, but I found this a very calming read, like sitting in a forest and stopping to listen to the sounds of nature rather than plunging ahead to get to the end of the path. The writing style envelops you in the setting, and it ends up feeling like this was a true place and a real time period.
Expect long, intimate conversations, reflections, and stories. The central relationship is that between Tamras and her warrior Maara, as the two grow to trust and prove loyal to each other beyond any authority they are sworn to.
Tamras learns to hunt, be a diplomat, hears and tells the stories of her land, and deal with the power dynamics of a hierarchy of warriors.
This is a wonderful book infused with the tones of folklore and legend, and a calming coming-of-age story written with masterful prose.