Swords and Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, Eds., EOS, ISBN 978-0-06-172381-0, 544 pgs., $15.99

English fantasy and science fiction writer Mic...

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Anthologies are great places to learn about new authors without having to lay out a lot of cash first. For example, if you are a lover of sword and sorcery fiction this book provides you with 17 short stories from 17 different writers. So, if you’ve been wondering who might be writing stories similar to Fritz Leiber‘s or Robert Howard’s or Lin Carter’s, then this is the place to start looking. Editors Strahan and Anders have gathered a good mix of veteran authors and sorted in a number of up and comers to balance things out. Steven Erikson is there alongside Robert Silverberg. Tim Lebbon and Michael Moorcock are there. Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook have stories in the book. And not just stories but Cook provides a new Black Company tale, Silverberg a new Majipoor story and Moorcock a new Elric tale.

Fantasy has included the sub-genre of sword and sorcery for almost as long as fantasy has been around. Statements like this, though, can become long, boring academic arguments and I have always been more interested in how entertaining the fiction is and not whether it fits in any particular niche or not. Suffice it to say that sword and sorcery stories have been around for a while and this book is an excellent representation of that type of work in its many forms. I should also note that this is not a reprint anthology so don’t expect to find these tales anywhere else. All of the stories contained within were written specifically for this book.

Besides those authors listed above, the anthology also contains work by Tanith Lee, Garth Nix, Michael Shea, Gene Wolfe, C. J. Cherryh, and Caitlin R. Kiernan as well as another half a dozen or so.

One of the big issues with anthologies is that sometimes they are like record albums or CDs (this may be a bad reference because it assumes that there are still some of you out there who remember vinyl or still buy CDs) where you buy the thing only to find that there are only one, maybe two, tracks really worth listening two. That’s not the case here. As you finish one great tale you immediately find that the next one is equally as entertaining.

Sword and sorcery is one of my guilty pleasures and I was very happy to have the chance to read through this book. Now I am suggesting that it would be a wise choice on your part to go out and get a copy. Highly recommended. This is a well constructed anthology that provides hit after hit.

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About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

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