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The Sword & Sorcery Anthology

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  267 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Terrifying barbarians, cunning mages, and daring heroes run rampant through these exceptional examples of the exciting sword and sorcery genre. In “Tower of the Elephant,” Conan takes up jewel thievery but proves to be far better with his sword. “The Flame Bringers” finds antihero Elric infiltrating a band of bloodthirsty mercenaries and outwitting a powerful sorcerer. “Be ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Tachyon Publications (first published January 1st 2012)
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May 28, 2014 Evgeny rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is an anthology of short sword and sorcery stories with some of them being very hard to qualify as such. If there was ever an anthology called mixed bag, this is the one. The quality of stories ranges from 'timeless classic' (5 stars) to 'why did I waste my time with it' (2 stars). It is also quite easy to predict the quality of a story without reading it using the following algorithm.

Do you often hear about its author? Rate it 5 stars if so.

Have you heard anything about the author at all?
May 23, 2012 Joseph rated it really liked it
A very solid collection that starts off strong (with stories by Robert E. Howard, C.L. Moore and Fritz Leiber) and just keeps going. Mostly reprints but with two original stories -- a new Nifft the Lean tale by Michael Shea, and a new story by Michael Swanwick. Other authors include Michael Moorcock, Joanna Russ and Jane Yolen. Oh, and this promising young newcomer named George R.R. Martin. (The Martin piece I'm pretty sure ended up being incorporated into one of the Ice & Fire novels -- it' ...more
Ralph Pulner
Aug 07, 2016 Ralph Pulner rated it really liked it
When I was younger I would go to the bookstore and I would be simply overwhelmed. The fantasy section was about as large as any big chain store section today. I didn't have the pedigree or knowledge that I have in my 40's. I was intimidated by all the titles I've never heard of before. My reading choices were based solely on cool covers or established series. (Star Trek, Predator, etc...) I really missed out.

Not as powerful as Hartwell's Dark Descent, but very impressionable nonetheless. I added
Ian Casey
Mar 30, 2015 Ian Casey rated it liked it
So, sword and sorcery. Like the Special Air Service or the San Antonio Spurs, you expect things with the initials SAS to contain an assemblage of bad-asses. And yet to date I’ve chiefly known the most action-packed branch of the fantasy family tree for its indirect influence on stuff like the Diablo games and 300 films rather than for the written word.

Thus, the inventively titled ‘The Sword & Sorcery Anthology’. I was intending soon to dive into some of these major fantasy series anyway (Con
Philip Foster.
May 11, 2013 Philip Foster. rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
***** for the stories which are uniformly excellent, so many highlights, but in a genre defined so much by its male authors my favourite stories were Caitlin R. Kiernan's 'The Sea Troll's Daughter' and Jane Yolen's 'Becoming a Warrior'. *** for the collection, David Drake's introduction is somewhat lacking but worse there are no notes on the stories or the author's. I loved Charles R. Saunders 'Gimmilie's Songs' but had to go on Wikipedia to find out more about the writer and his other works. A ...more
Julie Drucker
Aug 06, 2014 Julie Drucker rated it liked it
Shelves: have-book
I don't normally read Anthologies because I like my fantasy in larger doses, but I have to give kudos to the group of editors for putting together a good sampling of authors and stories that flow very well from one to the other. I had the opportunity to read some authors that I had not previously read and found it very helpful to me. It gave me the chance to read some different styles of writing and solidified those styles that I found seamless and even those that I maybe did not particularly ca ...more
Jun 03, 2014 dogunderwater rated it it was ok
This is a collection of fine, classic stories. Unfortunately, as an anthology it totally fails because nothing is given any context, narrative or historical. Meant to present a primer of The Classic Sword & Sorcery stories, a beginner would be left wanting, not knowing that many of these stories are parts of greater arcs for their characters, referencing other stories, or continue elsewhere.
Nov 04, 2015 Martin rated it liked it
If you're looking for an introduction to Sword & Sorcery, this one is pretty solid. Not the best the genre has to offer, but a good overview and start.
Michael Pritchett
Nov 29, 2014 Michael Pritchett rated it did not like it
A lot of classic shorts that I have already read, but a few clunkers that ruined the whole book.
May 12, 2017 Robert rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A pretty great anthology showing the evolution of the genre over the decades. I'm not a short fiction person so there were a few stories that I couldn't finish. Overall it was really good and I'm eager to read more anthologies.

Reviews at
Joel Neff
Nov 12, 2014 Joel Neff rated it it was amazing
The Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard 4/5
This is the story of how Conan met a thief, killed a god, and broke a tower. Gorgeous imagery and stark details make for a fun read that holds up long after it was first written. (By some accounts, this is the first canonical Conan story.)

Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore 3/5
A tale of revenge, possession, and demon lands, in which our heroine makes a classic error and accepts a gift from a demon.

The Unholy Grail by Fritz Leiber 4/5
Mouse is apprentice
Dec 01, 2014 L.A. rated it really liked it
The literary equivalent of comfy sweats for fantasy lovers. Not a complaint.

Sometimes you just want a book you know you're going to love. Fans of the wandering-dude-with-a-sword-who-is-often-also-a-wizard trope are going to love this set of short stories. How could you not, when it kicks off with a Conan tale from Robert E. Howard AND also contains an Elric story from Michael Moorcock? Some of the earlier stories are, um, products of their time, and may cause offense. However, they are redeemed
Brendan Howard
Jul 28, 2012 Brendan Howard rated it really liked it
*** - "The Tower of the Elephant" -- Conan gets wrapped up in big sorcery.
**** -- "Black God's Kiss" -- A powerful red-haired possessed of the strength of several men goes into the dark to bring a weapon of vengeance. Lovecraft/Ashton Smith-style weirdness in another dimension awaits her.
**** -- "The Unholy Grail" -- The Gray Mouser's origin revealed...a good time had by all, deliciously explaining how Fritz's semi-heroes operate in a world of dark sorceries that always taint the user.
**** -- "T
Patrick Day
Feb 15, 2017 Patrick Day rated it really liked it
More interesting than great outstanding literature besides two notable stories:

The Sea Trolls Daughter & The Adventuress.

Strangely enough the only two stories on here written by women I believe. Make of that what you will, haha.
Eric Mesa
Jul 15, 2014 Eric Mesa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed all the stories but one on here - the one about the pick-lock. One of my favorites turned out to be the last one, which I think is the shortest story. But the there's still a very compelling story told. I was disappointed with the GRRM story because I thought it was going to be an original short story. It just just part of a Dany chapter from ASOIAF. But, on the plus side I got to compare how it's different from the HBO show, I got to see that I enjoy the way GRRM writes, and it was my ...more
Skut L
A fine collection, there was only one story I didn't really enjoy, and that's saying something. I didn't feel the need to reread GRRM's contribution as I've read that chapter from A Storm of Swords twice.

Stories I particularly enjoyed are:The Tower of the Elephant" by Robert E. Howard,"The Unholy Grail" by Fritz Leiber"The Tale of Hauk" by Poul Anderson"The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams" by Michael Moorcock (Yet again I found myself mystified that I haven't delved more into Elric's world. When I
Sep 09, 2012 Sirensongs rated it really liked it
I haven't read too much in the sword and sorcery genre, but must confess that I have enjoyed what I have read, and it is a somewhat guilty pleasure of mine. Brutally cunning warriors, luscious, beautiful, buxom women who are often not what they seem, mages and wizards and witches who wield strange and wondrous powers...Really, what's not to love? It is such a fun form of escapism! Even the weaker stories in this anthology had something to recommend them, and though I had read several of the stor ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Mario rated it really liked it
I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies, sure, you get a lot of varied stories by several authors, but some of them might be incredibly good and some of them will want you to burn the book. As I had in the past, once I reach a bad story, I tend to put the book on hold...
Still, there are a great number of fantastic stories here, you get Conan for example! In spite of what happened to me, don't let some bad apples ruin your experience.
Oh, and the "Game of Thrones" chapter, turns out I had
Jan 12, 2013 Alytha rated it liked it
Sort of a mixed bag. Some nice old classics of mighty-thewed barbarians and adoring ladies.

A Glen Cook story, in his usual, deeply human style.

Some interesting newer stories with female heroes, or antiheroes, as it may be.

However, also, some older stories thar just come across completely random and pointless, as if explaining anything to the reader, or having a coherent plot was overrated.

Or just completely destroying your entire story, and especially your heroine, in the last sentence...

And som
Oct 23, 2015 Jacinta rated it liked it
This was a very mixed bag of stories, but overall worth going through (especially if you allow yourself to skip past the ones that look like they won't be great).

The second story (Black God's Kiss) is the one that made me leave a review: A the start of the story I'm like 'oh Jesus, she's going to fall in love with him for being so strong and shit, maybe I shouldn't bother reading it.' Middle of the story 'huh look she's going through hell to kill him, nice'. End of the story 'OH FOR FUCKS SAKE
Jul 24, 2014 Max rated it really liked it
I really liked this collection of short stories. It may be because I don't read much sword and sorcery fiction, but I found them generally very fresh and engaging, none outstaying their welcome or being too generic. Glen Cook's contribution "Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat” was particularly enthralling and definitely made me want to get into his books, and George R R Martin's "Path of the Dragon" was another beautifully written story. There were some forgettable entries as well, bu ...more
Apr 07, 2015 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
As with all collections, not every story is for everyone, but the variety is wide spread enough to capture everyone's attention at least with about a quarter of this collection. Not an entirely bad batch, and the ones that I enjoyed were quite awesome. The Howard, Fritz, and Cook stories stand out the most to me right now.

All in all, it is good enough to get your feet wet and some interesting story ideas - So, pick and choose at your leisure.
Sep 30, 2016 Amber rated it really liked it
Lots of good stuff in this one, and I of course liked some more than others. My favorite is probably "Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted With Defeat." I'd read a whole novel of that. Other faves were "Black God's Kiss," "The Adventuress," "Gimmile's Songs," "Undertow" (which I read postpartum at a time when the ending very deeply disturbed me), "The Coral Heart," and "The Sea Troll's Daughter."
Oct 25, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book of short stories! The only story I didn't get into much was "The Adventuress". Some of the stories that I thoroughly enjoyed were, "The Tower of the Elephant" (duh, who wouldn't like this one.) :), "Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat", "The Red Guild", "The Coral Heart", and "The Year of the Three Monarchs." Worth every minute I spent reading it!
Mar 08, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
Pretty good selection of stories in here. Like most anthologies, some are hits, some are misses.
Jd weber
Sep 05, 2014 Jd weber rated it really liked it
Don't have much experience with S&S but I feel much better prepared after reading this book. def a must read.
Dec 14, 2012 Darren rated it really liked it
I really liked this anthology. There weren't any stories I didn't enjoy, and several of them were terrific.
A collection of short tales of sword fights and magic. All were reprints, several I have read and own, but still most were a good read.
Jeff Hancock
Jul 21, 2014 Jeff Hancock rated it liked it
Patrick Ploch
Jul 30, 2014 Patrick Ploch rated it it was amazing
This book was right up my alley! I enjoyed it. The title pretty much says it all.
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David Geddes Hartwell was an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. He worked for Signet (1971-1973), Berkley Putnam (1973-1978), Pocket (where he founded the Timescape imprint, 1978-1983, and created the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing line), and Tor (where he spearheaded Tor's Canadian publishing initiative, and was also influential in bringing many Australian writers to the US market ...more
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