Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sword and Sorceress XXI

Marion Zimmer Bradley started the series, but she's dead now, so Diana L. Paxson edited this one.

Usually I have trouble reading anthologies straight through; the constant ending of stories and the need to meet a new set of circumstances and characters makes it rough to go straight from one story to the next. For some reason, I found this anthology easier in that respect than many others: either the editor did a marvelous job of selecting stories that fit together thematically and otherwise, or the ideas and worldbuilding are bland and don't require any great effort to adjust to: perhaps it's nothing I haven't seen before...

Since I am inclined to check out further works by some of the authors in here, I'd like to think it's the first, but there is some truth to the claim that readers want to read what they're familiar with.

Some of these stories ended sadly, and some were horrifying ("Red Caramae" blatantly so, "Oulu" more subtly). They are almost all set in historical or pseudo-historical milieus, many of them vague. (Admittedly, it's hard to describe an entire world in 15 pages or less.) The resolutions were often very sudden or seemingly too simplistic. Others made me want to check out further works by the author ("Kazhe's Blade", "Necessity and The Mother", "Step By Step", "Favor of the Goddess", possibly "Rose in Winter", "Ursa", and "Journey's End").

Conclusion: Good place to look for new authors if the particular type of story you like happens to involve women and the supernatural in a non-modern setting. (The magic involved was often very different and wasn't always due to the agency of the protagonist.)

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