This is a collection of ten short stories set in Dread Empire universe with short comments by the author for each one. Some familiar faces appear: I counted five characters from the main series with two more mentioned briefly. Actually one of the stories explains what happened to a fairly important guy who disappeared without a trace in the last trilogy of Dread Empire. On the other hand, there are several stories which relate to the universe only in the loosest sense; in fact a couple of stories can be qualified as fairy tales as opposed to fantasy (dragons kidnapping maidens - this kind of things).
Of the special note there are three stories about a pirate ship called Vengeful Dragon with a bloodthirsty crew. Once again these have practically no connections to the main story, but they can be considered as a retelling of Pirates of the Caribbean for grown-ups. Considering the author, you might expect this to be quite dark, and they deliver. The author mentioned that he intended to create at least a full novel out of these, but he could not find a publisher. I suspect it would be much easier now after the success of the movie I mentioned, but it is most probable Glen Cook moved on to other projects. Too bad about this as I see the stories as inspiration for the movie: they contain quite a few common themes, but without any sugar-coating and cheesy acting.
About the reading order: the collection might even be considered as a standalone, but it might be better to read it after the main series as there are some details which can be overlooked without knowing the background. The rating is higher than 3 stars, but it does not quite reach 4; this makes 3.5 stars overall.
This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/818822/a-collection-of-short-stories-in-dread-empire-universe