24 Following


Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery - Tanith Lee, Garth Nix, Robert Silverberg, Bill Willingham, C.J. Cherryh, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Gene Wolfe, Glen Cook, Greg Keyes, Michael Moorcock, Tim Lebbon, Jonathan Strahan, Steven Erikson, Michael   Shea, Lou Anders, Scott Lynch, K.J. Parker, Joe Abercrombie, James Enge Please note: this review will be updated as I read more stories from the anthology.

So as I mentioned this is an anthology of short fantasy (presumably sword and sorcery, but you really have to stretch the definition) stories. While we are here let us give a tribute to the grandfather of the genre who is still the unsurpassed badass:
The collection consists of the following:

Goats of Glory by Steven Erikson.
Five surviving soldiers came to a quiet backwater village to have a restful sleep. It turns out, something is not quite right in there and poor guys got every fun imaginable - including desperate fights for their lives - except for rest and relaxation.

This does not have anything to do with Malazan. I finished his magnum opus and it left me relatively cold. It turns out when Erikson is severely limited by the length of the story he writes (these are not called short stories for nothing) he can be great. No people whining non-stop about the miseries of life for 900+ pages, no endless wanderings in a handy desert, but good action. It is still typical Erikson which means I could predict even the last line of the tale had I thought about it, but it is still worth 4 stars.

Tides Elba: A Tale of the Black Company by Glen Cook.
The tale takes part between the first and the second books of the main series. A whole lot of familiar faces are back, including Captain, Lieutenant, Elmo, Silent, Otto, Hagop, Goblin, and One-Eye. It turns out the last two had an apprentice called Third! Poor guy. Croaker often mentioned that the Company is not nice, but he rarely shows really nasty parts. This one is one of such rare moments.

This was the reason I got my hands on this anthology. People familiar with my reviews know I love the series. The only catch is you need to be already familiar with the characters to fully enjoy the story. One-Eye winning in cards alone worth the whole book. Add to this great dialog and Croaker narration and you have 4 stars - if you have read at least the first book of the main series.

Red Pearls: An Elric Story by Michael Moorcock.
Elric travels to the other side of the world (make it whatever you want from this description) in search of something. The other side turned out to be quite strange. There are some people/creatures to kill and some souls to drink with the fabled Stormbringer.

This one was a mild disappointment. On one hand, it was too weird even for an Elrik story. On the other hand, it is too ordinary for an Elrik story. Sounds confusing, but this is exactly my impression. Oh, and the final resolution was way too simplistic. 3 stars on the weak side of 3.

The Fool Jobs by Joe Abercrombie.
A band of ragtag northern barbarians led by a guy named Craw who appears in Heroes (the best book of the series, in my opinion) is about to commit a heist. What could possibly go wrong? Let me give you a hint: everything.

This could have been excellent, but it does have a big problem: the story itself cannot decide whether it is humorous, or grimdark. It started kind of funny, but quickly developed into a good old massacre. As a result it does not quite succeed in either. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 just because Craw is my favorite character of the favorite book of the series.

So the final rating for now is 4 stars which I will update later with review of more stories.