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(Unfettered #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  5,227 ratings  ·  469 reviews
You define life or it defines you.

In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both.

Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hogdkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story Shawn could sell toward alleviating those bills—and s
Hardcover, 574 pages
Published June 21st 2013 by Grim Oak Press
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Michael I'm not sure anyone has said it's not ;-). Shawn was indeed fortunate that he had a community of authors to help with his situation (and I was honored…moreI'm not sure anyone has said it's not ;-). Shawn was indeed fortunate that he had a community of authors to help with his situation (and I was honored to be one of them). His life got better under the Affordable Care Act that provided insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, but we are far from where we need to be. We'll keep pushing for it, in the meantime, Shawn is taking excess money from this book and combining it with income from some of his other anthologies to start a fund that helps other authors similiar situations. (less)

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Oct 08, 2012 added it  ·  (Review from the author)

Over the last couple weeks, people have been asking me about this anthology, where my first-ever short story published.

But I can't write an honest review of it yet, as I haven't had a chance to read it all the way through.

I can say that what I've read so far, I've really liked.

In addition to that, I did write the introduction to the book, and since that explains what the anthology is all about, I'm going to put that up here so people can see it.

* * *

Can I be honest here? I don't read forewor
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Yes, I have a story in this anthology so my rating comes from all stories except "The Jester" - I'll leave it to others to say how well I did on that particular piece. I am going to provide the brief intro to my piece, though, in the hopes that finding out what my story is about will help others take a look.


The characters of Royce and Hadrian came to me during my self-imposed ten-year hiatus from writing. After crafti
Shawn Speakman
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I admit it.

I'm biased.

I think Unfettered is more badass than Patrick Rothfuss's beard.

That said, I am a fantasy fan first. I always will be. And I am perhaps even more judgmental of projects that I am working on than those I'm not. So when I say Unfettered is a solid fantasy anthology and deserves to be read, I mean it.

There are several short stories in here that should be nominated for Hugo Awards. No joke. And the rest are solid entries. There are two I'd love to see grown into full length nov
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is an anthology of short stories taking place in well-knows fantasy series. I will update my review as I read more stories, but for now this is only a partial one.

River of Souls. Series: Wheel of Time, Author: Brandon Sanderson. I admit this was the main attraction for me. The whole story is a big spoiler for something which is revealed in the last book of the huge series, so even the slightest hint on the plot would contain some. I will try to at least minimize them and just mention that
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fantasy
This was a rather enjoyable anthology. I read some stories, skimmed others and skipped some. I might go back and read/re-read some of these in the future, but for now, here are individual ratings of the ones I did read.

Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks: 3 stars
How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss: 2 stars
The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams: 2 stars
The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey: 4 stars
Mudboy by Peter V. Brett: 3 stars
Select Mode by Mark Lawrence: 4 stars
River of Souls by Rob
Mark Lawrence
Sep 30, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  (Review from the author)
Well I've yet to read any of the stories except mine ... but mine's off the hook :D go buy this!

Apparently the leather-bound + signed by all the author copies went in a hurry but you can still snag a fine trade edition.

I expect some of those other guys are ok too...
Brandon Zarzyczny
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've started reading this short story collection, and so far I'm definitely enjoying it. I'll keep updating my review as I progress through it.

- Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks => I really enjoyed this story, it's very well written and I liked the combination of the two worlds, with how each fantastical adventure was preceded by a hit on the head. It made for an interesting story, where you could view it as all in the kid's imagination, or that it was real. The whole brain cancer (or whatev
Jan 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015, reviewed, fantasy

Meta: ISFDB, edited by Shawn Speakman

Dozois praised this anthology to be one of the year's best. The author list is impressing as well, any hard core fan of Brooks, Rothfuss, Williams etc. would probably order it instantly. Especially knowing that it is a kind of charity where authors donated stories to help the editor out of financial debts imposed by his medical situation, treating cancer. This alone is a curiosity for my cultural background: Here in Germany, everyone has health insurance, no
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an Anthology put together by Shawn Speakman in order to help to pay off his medical bills which came after getting cancer for the second time. Due to being a cancer survivor before he was unable to get insurance and is now very much in need of financial help. All of the stories were donated by various authors and there were no restraints put on what they could include and write about.
It's hard to rate the book as a whole because there are such a mix of authors, stories, lengths and genre
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The editor of this Anthology, Shawn Speakman, was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. Because he had no health insurance, Terry Brooks offered to give him a short story to help defray the medical costs. He also told Shawn that he should ask other authors to contribute to as well. This book is what came of that.

Most of the stories are very good, with a few that are outstanding, and only 1 or 2 were duds. Here is a list of the stories, and what I thought about them.

Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks
Cyn Armistead
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful anthology! I have fallen off on reading collections lately, but I am such a total Kevin Hearne fangirl that I started looking for this one as soon as he mentioned it on Facebook. I bought it as soon as I heard of its release, and womanfully resisted skipping straight to the Iron Druid story.

I truly enjoyed most of the stories included. I did just stop reading the baseball story when I realized that it was horror, and skipped over "Dogs" for the same reason. Terry Brooks' piece d
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
All in all, I found the quality of the stories I read to be excellent and would definitely highly recommend this anthology. The stories I read from this collection are:

'Imaginary Friends' by Terry Brooks

This story about a boy defeating a mythical manifestation of his own cancer functions not only as a good opening story, introducing the anthology and hinting at the kind of material it features, but also as a nod to the purpose behind it, as the stories in this anthology were all donated by the
Matt LeFevers
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm assuredly not the only person who bought this anthology just for the Wheel of Time story, "River of Souls". I've had this release on my calendar ever since Brandon Sanderson revealed that this story would be in it, and having spent fourteen-plus Wheel of Time books wondering about the mysterious country off the edge of the map, it was worth it just for a glimpse of the fabled Shara.

Having satisfied my curiosity by jumping straight to the Wheel of Time entry, I then backtracked and read the e
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, anthology, fantasy
Perhaps the best anthology of fantasy stories I've read. Some better than others, but no real duds.

As an added bonus, several authors contributed tales related to their greater corpus, which for one reason or another haven't or couldn't previously be published. The reader gets a sampler of the the best current fantasy writers unfettered by commercial, logical or continuity demands.

Patrick Rothfuss is correct: the introductory remarks--his, Shawn's and the authors--are largely a waste of time.

A v
This collection was selected as the group read in one of my groups, as we like to try to do a collection to start off the year. Kind of easing into things, you know. Lots of little stories, generally a lot of discussion going on... nothing too crazy. But the last two years have been a bust for me. I did actually finish last year's selection, but it was not enjoyable.

This year... I'm abandoning ship. It's not that the stories aren't good, or the writing is crap... It's just that I really have lo
Mar 29, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-hold
Terry Brooks' 1st story was pretty rubbish, fluff urban fantasy. A product of its time for sure.

Patrick Rothfuss' entry was better the 2nd time through (It's only 1700 words long) and actually does work quite well if read aloud. Quite clever, but I can see people getting annoyed with it for being style over substance.

Tad Williams' story is actually quite funny in a daft, eye-rolling sort of way. I enjoyed it.

Carrie Vaughn's entry is stunning - easily the best one I've read so far. Very well wr
Bradley Staples
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm of mixed opinions. I'd buy the book just to help out Shawn, so the money is well spent.

Many stories were great (Tad Williams, Peter Brett, Todd Lockwood, Kevin Hearne, Eldon Thompson, Michael Sullivan, and Shawn Speakman).

Two I had high hopes for but wasn't impressed (Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson). Both lacked enough substance for me.

A few more weren't even fantasy (!!!) for whatever reason, so those sucked (RA Salvatore, Daniel Abraham, David Durham). I was also really unimpressed w
Rebecca Lovatt
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on The ArchedDoorway

Normally in my reviews I’ll take a step back, and try to remove all bias. They’re formulaic: a description, the good, the bad, something else good, a general summary, and the release date of the novel, or the sequel, if there is one. That’s not something I did here. Be warned, this is a long one.

Unfettered is a fantasy anthology, containing stories from many of the biggest names in fantasy out there right now. It’s a wonderful amalgamation of talent, put tog
Billy Vazquez
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
Shelves: fantasy, anthology
Shawn Speakman delivers a powerful and wonderful anthology. This is a must read for any fantasy fan. Go now and get yourself a copy. This is the TLDR ( too long didn't read) version of the review.

Now for those interested in the why's and why not's then reader further.

Imaginary Friends - Terry Brooks
A master of fantasy writing, Terry Brooks gives us this wonderful story of magic in the real world. Told through the eyes of a child that experiences a fantastic world of elves and dragons. Do you
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
As with another anthology I did recently, I will(have to) grade each story separately and use the average to give the book the overall score; seeing as how the book isn't all by one author taking place in the same universe.

The average rating is 2.4 Star out of 22 stories(didn't finish one of the stories)

"Imaginary Friends" by Terry Brooks
It's good that Terry put his life on hold and placed time and effort into helping out a friend without looking for any compensation in return.... doesn't change
Searching for some references related to Wheel of Time universe, I came across upon this anthology and I have found to be a very admirably initiative in creating it - around 20 well-known writers contributed with a story to help the editor, Shawn Speakman, to cover his expenses related to cancer treatment.

However, with the tales themselves, it is another story... Half of them are built upon a tragic disease, or a death, or something alike. Maybe it's just me, but, given the circumstances this a
★★★☆☆ Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks
★★★★★ How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss (Tales from Temerant 2.3)
★★★★☆ The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
★★★★★ Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
★★★★☆ The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel's Universe)
★★★★☆ Mudboy by Peter V. Brett
★★★★★ The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian (Vault of Heaven 0.7)
★★☆☆☆ The Coach with Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore
★★★★★ Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood
★★★★☆ Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlto
Travis Robinson
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This collection literally (literally!) has something that every fantasy reader can enjoy. I read 96% of the pages, and with 24 authors I thought for sure there would be something I didn't like, and it turned out to be very, very little. Some highlights for me were:

"Imaginary Friends" - Terry Brooks. Heart wrenching and heart lifting, a perfect opening for the collection.

"Game of Chance" - Carrie Vaughn. Can't beat a redemption story.

"The Sound of Broken Absolutes" - Peter Orullian. A completel
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so glad that I bought this anthology.

Firstly, it was for a good cause. The American healthcare system is so weird and scary, and just thinking that you would have to declare bankruptcy because you cannot afford cancer treatment scares the crap out of me. Here's for a speedy recovery, Sean!

Second, a lot of these authors pop up on my recommendations list and I'm never sure whether to make the leap or not to try out someone new. Having sampled their writing styles and gotten a taste of their w
Stephan van Velzen
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great stories, great cause, great authors, amazing collection. I've added a lot of new authors to my to-read pile because of this anthology. I believe that was exactly what Shawn Speakman was aiming for.

My favorite story was without a doubt The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian. Here's what I wrote about that story, because it deserves being mentioned:

At about 22,500 words, Peter Orullian’s The Sound of Broken Absolutes can just barely be classified as a novella. It is short fiction, t
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Heard about this from Kevin Hearne on FB a while ago and it slipped my mind. Saw it this morning on Patrick Rothfuss' blog....bought it immediately! I want to start it now, but I have to finish Infinity Blade by Brandon Sanderson first. I haven't read it yet, so I cannot give it an accurate review, but given the compilation of authors I am sure this is going to be a very enjoyable read.

Now that I've finished it, I ended up buying some new authors. I was expecting more from some authors I'v
I picked this up back when released to read a couple of very specific stories by authors I was already following, and then it sort of got lost on my shelf. Now I've finally got a round tuit.

I think it's safe to say that this anthology has more valleys than hills, and it's partly in the nature of the anthology itself. There's no overarching theme to the stories, many are from authors who don't usually write short form fantasy fiction, and given the donation nature of the collection, I suppose the
colleen the convivial curmudgeon


These are the comments/mini-reviews I posted in the group that I read this with. Overall I'll say that the book is overlong, a lot of the stories are overlong and either tedious or mediocre. Also, several of them are set in established worlds and don't do enough to introduce or make people not already familiar with them care about them.

There were a few gems, though:

Imaginary Friends was super predictable and, imo, the writing was pretty bland. 2 stars.

Old Holly - what in the actual fuck?
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read every single story yet, but from the ones I have read, I can still comment on the book as a whole.

First off, just after hearing about the situatuon Shawn was in, I just thought "why not help?" I get an awesome anthology, and in some small way, maybe I've contributed to a good cause. I don't have any connection to Shawn, just a fan of reading, and the authors in this book. So, if you're thinking of buying this anthology, I only say..."Why not?"

Now, to the review. I haven't read a
Joseph Lopez
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you're actively involved in the fantasy community, chances are you've run across Shawn Speakman at some point. He's the webmaster for Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik, runs The Signed Page, writes articles for Suvudu, and does all kinds of other assorted work. This has led to him being relatively well-connected in the speculative fiction genre.

Shawn had been diagnosed with cancer and beaten it before. When it struck a second time, he had no medical insurance and accumulated a seemingly insurmount
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Shawn Speakman grew up in the beautiful wilds of Washington State near a volcano and surrounded by old-growth forests filled with magic. After moving to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, he befriended New York Times best-selling fantasy author Terry Brooks and became his webmaster, leading to an enchanted life surrounded by words.

He was a manager at one of the largest Barnes & Noble

Other books in the series

Unfettered (3 books)
  • Unfettered II: New Tales By Masters of Fantasy (Unfettered, #2)
  • Unfettered III: New Tales By Masters of Fantasy (Unfettered, #3)

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