Great collection of anecdotes about paganism in England, life in Glastonbury, and everything you always wanted to ask about running a witchcraft shopGreat collection of anecdotes about paganism in England, life in Glastonbury, and everything you always wanted to ask about running a witchcraft shop but didn't asked because you were afraid you'd get cursed. Recommended to everyone who has any interest in paganism and/or witchcraft, and those that just enjoy getting and interesting and often funny insight into a different side of life in the UK....more
This is an anthology of short stories and flash fiction. I'll do aThe following review was otiginally posted on my blog: http://weirdmage.blogpot.com
This is an anthology of short stories and flash fiction. I'll do a quick, spoiler free, rundown of the individual stories before giving my overall impression.
BECALMED by Den Patrick
A story about the dangers of handling one type of stolen goods. This is a good story. It evokes a great sense of empathy, and I think on some level everyone can relate to it.
THE TROUBLE WITH DAYDREAMS by Catherine Hill
High sea piracy may not be for everyone we learn in this very short story. I really liked this. It's short, to the point, and it has a very nice ending.
BLACK ETHEL'S BEAST by Kit Marlowe
In this story a captain duels a stowaway. This is a good story, but one that felt too much of an episode of something bigger to me. Something bigger that I would very much like to read, I hasten to add.
NO QUARTER by Rahne Sinclair
A raging sea battle is the setting for this story, where magic plays a part. This is full of action. Despite its short length it doesn't stand behind many longer pirate adventures in its invocation of the smell of gunpowder and the sound of breaking timber. An excellent little tale with an epic feel.
LEAVE THE PISTOL BEHIND by Chloë Yates
A visit from an old acquaintance comes as a surprise in this tale. Very good story whose last sentence brought a grin to this readers face.
PAST LIVES by Jenny Barber
The catch fights back in this story. A story that gives a very nice twist to an archetypal story type. Very well executed.
NORA by Margrét Helgadottir.
A woman is attacked by pirates, and shows her true mettle. This story is subdued and effectful. It doesn't shout where it can whisper, but you will want to listen. A really good one.
PLUNDER by Fransesca Terminiello
A tense tale of a teenager at sea. This has great tension, and though you can sense what the outcome will be, it doesn't stop you from being dragged in by the excellent atmosphere created.
INSURGENT by Christian D'Amico
Space pirates find a ship with cargo that for them is a jackpot. Apart from the ending feeling a bit like the end of a novel's first chapter, this is an excellent tale.
GERONIMO by T.F. Grant
Modern piracy has consequences in this story of the future. This has an interesting premise, and it is certainly topical. I found this very interesting, and in some ways chilling.
PIECES OF 23 by Rob Haines
A tale of swashbuckling on the datasea. This is a fast-paced story set in a very different environment to those stories that precede it in this anthology. It's a very nice and original tale. Quite refreshing.
THE REAL DEAL by R.J. Booth
An author is kidnapped by a gang of ruthless pirates in this story. This is a good story, one that doesn't signpost where it is going, but it leads you to a satisfying end.
TRUE TO THE SONG by Asher Wismer
A pirate hijacking that is something out of the ordinary. This is a story with a surprising element in it. An element that very much sets it apart from most other pirate stories you will encounter. A great read.
SILVERMELT by Emma Teichmann
A musician gets caught up in events he doesn't quite see the scope of. Good story with a bit of mystery to it. It does however end very abruptly, and leaves you wondering if something is missing.
SKYWAY by K.C. Shaw
A woman grabs an unexpected opportunity in this Steampunk story. This is a brilliant little story. It has plenty of action and adventure, and a very enjoyable plot.
X MARKS THE SPOT by S.J. Caunt
A girl catches the "pirate-bug" at a very early age. This is a very enjoyable story. One that will most likely bring a smile to your face. A very nice ending to the anthology.
I am not sure I can really pinpoint what the fascination with pirates is. I've read enough about the real history behind what Hollywood serves up to know that their life was mostly very far from glamorous. And yet they still hold a fascination to me, as they obviously do to a lot of other people around the globe. If you are reading this, I will assume that you have been caught by some of the allure surrounding pirates, and is interested in reading stories about them. In which case this anthology will be something for you.
The quality of the stories is high throughout this anthology. Not every story hit me in exactly the right spot, but there were no real duds either. It is noticeable though that the word "piracy" does evoke a very particular image in many people's minds, and that this does lead to similarities between some of the stories. This wasn't a big problem though, and it can easily be avoided by not reading all the stories in one setting. It does mean that the anthology feels stronger when authors move away from the traditional image of piracy and in a different direction.
Nitpicking about stories being similar when the anthology is read in one sitting aside, I really liked this anthology. It is short, as are the stories in it, and it is all the stronger for it. This is excellent for those that want some short fiction that will fill a few minutes now and then. For those that like their fiction to come with a piratical leaning, this is an absolute must.
NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the publisher....more
First I'll give a (very) brief spoiler free review of each individual story,This review originally appeared on my blog: http://weirdmage.blogspot.com
First I'll give a (very) brief spoiler free review of each individual story, and then I'll sum up my feelings on the whole anthology below that.
NEWTON'S METHOD by PAUL WEIMER
A tale of travelling to find a perfect partner. This is a neat little story that has a great high-concept idea backing it up. I really liked this little exploration of it. So much so that I would very much welcome Weimer exploring it in much longer form.
ELLIE DANGER, GIRL DAREDEVIL by ALASDAIR STUART
The combination of funerals and surprise meetings are not unusual in fiction, but Stuart puts a very nice spin on it here. This is an excellent tale that gives us a glimpse into a much bigger story. Stuart certainly shows that he's someone to look out for with this tale.
FATHER'S DAY by FRANSESCA TERMINIELLO
What begins with a child's point of view, and seems at first rather mundane, turns into a different type of story in the end. Both fun and a bit sad, and definitely something that makes you thoughtful. Terminiello has written a sweet little tale with quite a bit of depth to it. I like the feeling of being made to reflect while being entertained, and this delivers very well on that.
THE COMPANISIM, THE TREASURE, THE THIEF AND HER SISTER by C.J. PAGET
A tale that is long enough to take us on quite a surprising journey. I really liked this from the start. It has a great atmosphere to it and enough twists to keep you firmly invested in the story. It's a nice mix of Thriller and Science Fiction. Paget is clearly an author I need to read more of.
KATE AND THE BUCHANAN by ANDREW REID
This story is about invention, and more importantly, the inventor. Reid's story starts out as straight forward Steampunk, and it continues in that genre until the end. But there's more important things told here than just that connected to the setting. It does get a bit heavy handed in what it says, but that works very well here. Reid is clearly someone to look for in the future.
GAME, SET AND MATCH by JULIET MCKENNA
This starts out looking like something completely different from what it turns out to be. This is very well written and has a nice rhythm to it. There's some very important points being made here. Your mileage may vary on whether it is too direct or not. Personally, I liked it a lot.
IN MEMORIAM by ROB HINES
Closer to what most people think of when you say Science Fiction than any other story in this anthology. This is about Artificial Intelligence and friendship. It took me a few pages to get into this story, solely because its style is so different from the other entries, but once I did I was stuck in. This is a powerful story. It packs a real punch and gets you thinking. Excellent work by Hines.
UNRAVEL by REN WAROM
A story of love lost, and a new beginning. Powerful. That's the first word that springs to mind when describing Warom's excellent story. This is a very emotional tale. It grabs you very early on and doesn't let go until long after you have read the last sentence. It's hard for me to come up with the words to describe how good I think this is. I can only urge you to read it for yourself.
MOTHER KNOWS BEST by SUZANNE MCLEOD
Longing for companionship can be made much harder with an interfering mother at your back. This feels like it's really lighthearted compared to the other stories in this anthology. But while it is fun, it is more than just a surface story. McLeod writes about something I think everyone who who has turned thirty can relate to, or at least empathise with, and she does it very well. I found it a really fun read, and like it a lot.
FRAGILE CREATIONS by ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY
Here we have a story of a noble who finds some mechanical artifacts enchanting, and their maker even more so. It takes a while to see where this is going, and it wasn't a big surprise. But that doesn't really matter, you will be happy to come along for the journey. This is well written and it tells a fascinating story. A very good ending to the anthology.
When I've read anthologies in the past it's usually been some sort of "Best of" or "Mammoth book of", or at least something that has some of the really big names of SFF attached to it. And there has always been at least one dud, stories that for some reason or other I didn't take to, that I could very well do without. This anthology has none of those two things. (Well, the names are arguable. You'll probably recognise some of them.) There wasn't a single story here that I felt wasn't for me, or that I felt was below par. The quality of the storytelling is very high here, above what can be expected from any anthology. It really is consistently very good throughout. Every author in here has delivered something that they can be proud of, and something which I have really enjoyed. The only story I feel like singling out from the pack (or should that be skulk?) is Ren Warom's. Even in this field of very good stories her offering stands out. It's slightly above the others in the impact it has, and it is clear that Warom is a very accomplished writer.
The theme for this anthology is given in the cover copy above. It isn't followed so strictly that it limits the stories we get. Most of them are Science Fiction in some form, but this is a really diverse offering. Even when what the stories tells us is very similar they do it in completely different ways. In fact this is the most diverse themed anthology I have ever read. With such a diversity there really is something for everyone here. It doesn't matter if you think Science Fiction isn't your thing, it's used more as means than an end here. This is simply great storytelling regardless of what genre you define it as being.
Simpson has certainly done an excellent job of putting this together. Despite consisting of ten different stories in different settings, by ten different authors, this book flows very well as a whole. As an anthology this really is one of the greats, and it is one of my absolute top reads this year. I can do nothing else to end this review than urge you to get a hold of this book. Especially for SFF fans this is an absolute must, and its SFF roots shouldn't stop you from grabbing it if you enjoy short stories. This is an anthology that should be read by everyone who enjoys a good story.
NOTE: An e-ARC of this was given to me by the publisher....more
This story is pretty typical for Fantasy in its set-up. We have a protagonisThis review originally appeared on my blog: http://weirdmage.blogspot.com
This story is pretty typical for Fantasy in its set-up. We have a protagonist that runs away from her family, and ends up being a "chosen one". Apart from the main character being female there isn't really much that is original in the basic premise. Add to that the setting is basically a School of Magic, and you wont expect too much originality. -Although it must be said that this book was first published ten years before Harry Potter first appeared in the stores, so accusing Lackey of copying Rowling when it comes to setting is totally wrong, unless you can prove Lackey has a time-machine.
The Heralds and the Companions are a great concept. And Lackey is very good at letting the reader discover more about it together with Talia, the main character. We learn a lot about the world of Valdemar and its Heralds without getting the feeling that the information is dumped on us. We are also introduced to an interesting cast of characters, they are diverse and they have a depth to them that makes them seem like real people. That we are mostly at one location helps to concentrate more of the novel on the characters, and especially Talia's, daily life. This works very well, and adds a lot to the story.
I found the story very compelling. Following Talia's journey is a very interesting story and I got hooked on really early. There are parts of the story that concern themselves with her coming to a completely alien environment and I felt that Lackey handled that nearly perfect. When the story turns to conspiracy and suspense it also works great. Lackey writes in a way that gets you invested in the events, as well as the characters involved in them. I did however feel that there was a bit of a problem with a change of pace in the latter parts of the novel, and the ending felt a bit rushed. It may be that the story would have been better if the novel was hundred pages longer. But that is really a minor niggle, I liked it enough that I immediately started on the next book in the trilogy.
This is a very good Fantasy novel, written in a lighter style than what most modern Fantasy is. There's no "gritty" here, and I think that is a strength. Lackey has written a very entertaining story that is by no means too "light" to be dismissed as fluff. If you like the Fantasy of the eighties, or is just tired of everything having to be dark and gloomy, I would strongly recommend you pick this up. It is also great to see Fantasy in an Epic setting that has a female main character, and if you ever miss that this is a must....more