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Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery (The Chronicles of the Black Company #1.2)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  952 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
A truly breathtaking new anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, Swords & Dark Magic offers stunning new tales of sword and sorcery action, romance, and dark adventure written by some of the most respected, bestselling fantasy writers working today—from Joe Abercrombie to Gene Wolfe. An all-new Elric novella from the legendary Michael Moorcock and a new vi ...more
ebook, 544 pages
Published June 22nd 2010 by HarperCollins e-books
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A decidedly non-Tolkienesque collection of sorcery, swords and morally challenged heroes characters roughly moving through bleak, dreary landscapes and encountering death, violence and other sordid nastiness.This is MY kind of fantasy (i.e., the unkind variety).

Within these unhallowed pages, you will find no hairy-footed hobbits smoking pipe-weed; no pompous, effeminate Elves residing in trees and baking bread; and no melancholy kings proclaiming in Shakespearean patois.

You must look elsewhere
Jun 01, 2016 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
At 517 pages, Swords & Dark Magic is quite a load, even as an anthology. I confess, there were a number of these that I grew impatient with and just skipped. I either didn't like the tone or approach, and/or felt that I'd been there and done that story-wise. It's interesting looking at the reviews for this book, since a number of reviewers, ones I really respect, are all over the place as far as what they like. So maybe this collection is more a success than I thought, since folks did find w ...more
Jan 24, 2011 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the back of the cover says ‘Seventeen Original Tales of Sword and Sorcery penned by Masters Old and New’ and then goes on to mention Glen Cook and the Black Company, Michael Moorcock and Elric, Steven Erikson and Malazan, Gene Wolfe, Robert Silverberg and Majipoor, KJ Parker, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and others, most readers would need little persuading to pick this one up.

Furthermore, when the two editors are known as a couple of the best in the business currently, you would expect a h
I've reviewed each section of this anthology on it's own merits, then gave my thoughts of the whole at the end.

Introduction: Check Your Dark Lord at the Door by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan: An intro this anthology that purports (as the title suggests) that this is a collection of new Sword & Sorcery, with a mix some classics. A claim I found highly dubious, though commendable. Nonetheless with names like Moorcock, Cook, Erikson and Abercrombie amongst the list I was really looking forwar
Jul 31, 2010 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy readers wanting a good anthology
Recommended to Terence by: GR Friend's review (Stefan)
Overall a very solid anthology. Only two stories would I consider not worth my time - Silverberg's "Dark Times at the Midnight Market" and Willingham's "Thieves of Daring" - and some were very good.

"Goats of Glory," Steven Erikson. I'm an Erikson groupie so he'd have to stumble pretty badly to get a bad review from me. The story revolves around the moral compromises a village makes to survive, and the demon-fighting skills of Captain Skint and her company. Nothing profound but an entertaining st
Aug 23, 2010 Felicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy sword and sorcery, and some of my favorite authors contributed to this anthology, so it's win all over.
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery is an excellent new anthology of original short fantasy fiction, featuring an impressive mixture of established genre masters and newer, highly talented authors. The book’s introduction, by editors Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan, does an excellent job defining the sword & sorcery sub-genre and placing it in its historical context. This is an interesting read for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the genre and doesn’t have ...more
Oct 18, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A collection of sword and sorcery stories. Mostly written by dudes, and mostly uninspired or poorly written. They're all quite stylized: these are clearly authors who have either developed their authorial voices or are aping other, very distinct voices.

I kinda enjoyed:
Steven Erikson, "Goats of Glory": A pitiful village is excited by the approach of a ragtag band of soldiers, but fully expects them all to die when they announce they'll be sleeping in the nearby haunted ruins. The combat writing
May 25, 2016 Sorcered rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I only finished this book because I had nothing else to read during my hospital stint. Yes, it was THAT average. Actually, I loved three of the stories (Scott Lynch's In The Stacks, James Enge's The Singing Spear and K.J.Parker's A Rich Full Week), but there were oh so many humdrum efforts (and a few just plain bad ones) that i just can't recommend it.

In publication order:

1. Goats of Glory (Steven Erikson) - Feels like the beginning of a novel, not a standalone story. Standard "group of veteran
Feb 10, 2015 Dušan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isprva sam hteo da procitam samo Aberkrombijevu pricu, The Fool Jobs. Onda videh neka od imena u antologiji (Glen Cook, Steven Erickson, Scott Lynch, Michael Moorcock), i posto volim kratku formu, odlucih da procitam sve. I da li sam se pokajao? Ne bih rekao, ali nisam nesto ni odusevljen zbirkom. Dosta prica mi nije ostavilo neki utisak. Prve dve, od Eriksona i Cooka, koje volim da citam, nisu nista posebno. Cookova je zapravo solidna, ali za nekog ko je citao Black Company ne donosi nista novo ...more
Feb 05, 2011 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who've liked these authors previous works
A couple good stories (Enge and Parker stand out) but overall disappointing. In some cases, such as Ericson, whom I've not read prior, it may be that the author is simply not to my taste, but several I had liked before and didn't enjoy here.
Alex Ristea
As is the case with most short story anthologies, not all of the stories will blow you away. But from reading other reviews I've found it's really a matter of personal preference. Here, Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan present a collection of tales of "small stakes and high action" with a morally ambiguous protagonist. It's been the trend in Fantasy to blur the lines between good and evil, and I relished the opportunity to read about good guys who do questionable things, and villans who can have ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Overall this had some decent stories. I'd say the ones I enjoyed the most were the ones by Scott Lynch and Tanith Lee.

Stephen Erikson, "Goats of Glory" - couldn't get into it, skipped.

Glen Cook, "Tides Elba" - not bad although I felt like not ever having read any of the Black Company books was a slight hindrance. Very testosterone-oriented.

Gene Wolfe, "Bloodsport" - interesting concept, the writing was kind of ... heavy, bordering on turgid?

James Enge, "The Singing Spear" - was okay. The story i
Sep 14, 2011 Traci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I feel for the most part that the sword and sorcery genre is dead and has been replaced by dark fantasy. Although there are moments in this collection to find hope.
How do you rate an anthology? As a whole? By average? On the best? There are always great, good, bad, and horrible in such collections. Do you punish the good? Reward the bad?

Okay enough. The stories I really enjoyed:

James Enge's The Singing Spear might not be great but it came the closest in my opinion of capturing the s&s spirit
Matthew Daniels
It's more difficult to give a fair numerical rating for a collection of works by different authors than for a book penned entirely by the same person(s). On the whole, Swords & Dark Magic was a bit disappointing.

That said, there were several stories that stood out as particularly strong. Ultimately, Anders and Strahan set out to celebrate and spark some interest in the sword & sorcery genre, and I would not be opposed to exploring the genre further -- though it's clear even from this col
Pepper Thorn
Aug 29, 2010 Pepper Thorn rated it it was amazing
If you love Sword and Sorcery then you MUST have this book. If you like Sword and Sorcery then you will love this book. If you sometimes enjoy Sword and Sorcery then you will enjoy this book. There is a story in this volume for anyone who reads genre fiction, from a magical library to iconic Elric from the master himself, Michael Moorcock. Swords and Dark Magic contains some of the most beautiful, lyrical writing I have read. It easily keeps company with the giants of the genere, especially sinc ...more
Mia Darien
Feb 29, 2012 Mia Darien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rated this as a five because I love the genre, and even if I liked some of these stories more than others, they were all good examples of the genre.

The standout stories for me were the ones from Erikson, Cherryh, Parker, Lynch and Abercrombie. I could have done without the stories from Lebbon, Keyes, and Willingham - not because they were bad, but they were just kind of blase for me. The rest were good, though not as exceptional as the first five authors I listed though Enge, Silverberg and Sh
Feb 12, 2015 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading this book, for some reason, this book seemed like it took me forever to read. I picked out this book, because it was called the new Sword and Sorcery. To me, Robert E. Howard is the master of Sword and Sorcery and any story calling itself Sword and Sorcery must be written in the spirit of Howard. With that in mind here's a run down of the stories.

Goats of Glory by Steven Erikson: Awesome battles with demons. This story delivers, but reads too much like an excerpt from a l
Michael Drakich
May 30, 2014 Michael Drakich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went through and rated each story and came out with a combined average of 3.4 stars. There are, in my mind, four pieces that I gave 5 stars to and a number of stories where I was hard on them because they relied on the reader already knowing the characters. I decided to rate things on the basis of having never read any previous works by any of the authors. For example, having read everything featuring Elric of Melnibone, I understood the premise of his character. A novice reader would have non ...more
Apr 02, 2011 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is what you would expect from a collection of different authors -- some good, some average, some disappointments.

I really dislike that a few of the "stories" were obviously incomplete outtakes from a series. I mean, I'm fine that these stories act as advertisements to entice us into reading more by the author, but I still expect that all the stories should be fully self-contained stories.
May 25, 2010 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All in all, reading Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery was time well spent, and I can’t thank Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan enough for making this anthology happen. Enthusiastically recommended to anybody who reads fantasy...
2.5 "Two Lions, A Witch, and A War-robe" Very well done pastiche, but, as a quibble, it seemed more like a stereotypical "mediaeval" fantasy than a sword and sorcery, if that matters. The story utilizes her typically sly humor, but I think parodies of this style are done far too often for me to be amused. Sadly, even as I appreciated the jokes, the humor fell flat.

Other stories I attempted also had a parodic quality, which comes across as the authors feeling superior to the genre and by extensio
Feb 04, 2016 Martin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Now this was a huge disappointment for me. There's a Howard story and a Moorcock story because they have to, but with most of the entries I was really wondering how they made it into a Sword & Sorcery anthology in the first place. Because as far as I am concerned, most of them are severely lacking in both swords and in sorcery. Sword & Sorcery means action and adventure and dangerous beasts and evil sorcerers. Which are hardly found anywhere in this book.
If you judge the individual stori
Kai Mundwiler
Aug 26, 2012 Kai Mundwiler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me preface something. I didn't read every short story in the book.

I read Scott Lynch's "In the Stacks" and only read that. I don't feel bad about it at all. I'm going to read more at a later date but at this point I just needed to get some unread Scott Lynch into my system (that and I needed a quick story after my last book took way too long).

This shouldn't come as any surprise but Scott Lynch is good. Whether it's in novel form with the Gentleman Bastard, science fiction with the Queen of t
Sep 01, 2010 Mieneke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2010
Normally I’m not much of an anthology reader, I own the Legends collection published around 2000 and I have all the Valdemar anthologies, but that’s pretty much it. Why? I don’t know really. I had so many full-length novels I wanted to read, that I never really made an effort to explore anthologies and short stories. But when I read about Swords & Dark Magic edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders and its star-studded line up of authors, I knew I wanted to read it. With some of my favourit ...more
Apr 01, 2012 Paweł rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Nigdy nie czytałem żadnej antologii, ogólnie rzadko sięgam po opowiadania preferując dłuższe formy. "Miecze i mroczna magia" przedstawiana jest jako zbiór dojrzałych i mrocznych opowieści fantasy, czyli takich jakie lubię. W praktyce mamy do czynienia z kupą słabych tekstów napisanych przez zdziadziałych autorów o średniej wieku 60, którzy może kiedyś i byli tuzami gatunku, ale dzisiaj powinni już przejść na emeryturę. Tzw. "gritu" za dużo tu nie ma, niby czasem ktoś tam ginie, ale to taka racze ...more
Jun 23, 2013 Morgan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Do not read or buy this book! No unless you want to read about body fluids including urine, pus, open sores, and feces. I was excited to hear this past spring that there would be a new sword-and-sorcery fiction anthology from the big press. I really enjoyed Andrew Offutt’s Swords Against Darkness and Page & Reinhardt’s Heroic Fantasy back in the day and was hoping this would be the start of a new era.
The first warning sign was the cover. The cover painting for the trade paperback edition is
Bruce Nordstrom
Jul 31, 2013 Bruce Nordstrom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: S&S fans, young and old
I've been a fan of S&S for about 30 years now, and this is the best anthology I've read in many a year. Many an old favorite author and a few new ones who I now am dying to read more of their works.

A quick review of some of the stories herein, in no special order:

"Hew the Tintmaster," by Michael Shea: Hands down, the best, most literate story in the book. Funny, very gripping story in a Jack Vance vein. Special guest appearance by Cugel the Clever. Loved it. Why isn't this author more widely
Karen Ireland-Phillips
I admit that I bought this book last year for the C. J. Cherryh story, which I promptly read and enjoyed before setting the volume on my “to be read” shelf. Since I enjoyed “Naked City” so much, I thought I’d pull this out to see what I made of it. [return]The stories partake of a much older form of science fiction, but don’t lack for invention. Some use humor – “Goats of Glory”, Steven Erickson and a light entry by Tanith Lee , “Two Lions, A Witch, and the War-Robe”. The sad consequences of con ...more
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Other Books in the Series

The Chronicles of the Black Company (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #1)
  • Shadows Linger (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #2)
  • The White Rose (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #3)
  • Shadow Games (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #4)
  • Dreams of Steel (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #5)
  • Bleak Seasons (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #6)
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