I received this shared world anthology after lending my support via Kickstarter and was very pleased right away by the quality and production value. TI received this shared world anthology after lending my support via Kickstarter and was very pleased right away by the quality and production value. The concept focuses on Taux, a fantasy city with an ancient and mysterious Mesoamerican vibe where the very stones are haunted by the spirits of a vanished people. The city has been reclaimed by the current inhabitants, a mixture of Mesoamerican types, European types, and humanoids. It's a city replete with perils and intrigue, with sin and vice, with denizens, some roguish, some dark, plying their wares, scheming, or just trying to eke out an honest living. And let's not forget the ambiguous Black Gate, the seeming nexus point where the lost souls are amassed in great numbers. Or the Star Tower, where unseen Wizards repose in a dark and sibylline solitude.
This is a very slick, professional-looking title with a very cool painted cover by the always-popular Todd Lockwood and several pieces of interior art by Jeff Laubenstein and Janet Aulisio. Editor Scott Taylor has compiled an impressive roster of authors, as well. Here's a quick rundown, with my star ratings:
“Namesake” by Lynn Flewelling (3 stars) “The One Thing You Can Never Trust” by Harry Connolly (3 stars) “Between” by Todd Lockwood (4 stars) “Venture” by Juliet McKenna (3 stars) “Three Souls for Sale” by Mike Tousignant (3 stars) “Revenants” by Martha Wells (4 stars) “Water Remembers” by Julie Czerneda (5 stars - awesome story!) “Charlatan” by Scott Taylor (4 stars) “Footsteps of Blood” by Rob Mancebo (4 stars)
So if I do the math here, we have nine short stories and a total of 33 stars for an average of 3.7. That earns Scott Taylor's anthology a four-star rating, and even more, it earns him my continued patronage of The Nameless Realms (the fantasy world where Taux exists). I now plan to pick up another Art of the Genre offering, The Cursed Legion: Volume One of The Five Year War, and I intend to continue to follow the development of this shared world effort (in the vein of the '80s antho Thieves' World compiled by Robert Asprin -- remember those? I still have a boxed set around here somewhere! Hmmm...maybe I'll go look for it while I wait for Scott to put the next Nameless Realms book on Kickstarter...)
-- Tales of the Emerald Serpent is a highly recommended read, especially to fans of heroic fantasy, dark fantasy, swords & sorcery, gaming-fantasy, and anthology enthusiasts! Four (out of five) stars!