Hot on the heels of award-winning editor Gardner Dozois's acclaimed anthology The Book of Swords comes this companion volume devoted to magic. How could it be otherwise? For every Frodo, there is a Gandalf ... and a Saruman. For every Dorothy, a Glinda ... and a Wicked Witch of the West. What would Harry Potter be without Albus Dumbledore ... and Severus Snape? Figures of wisdom and power, possessing arcane, often forbidden knowledge, wizards and sorcerers are shaped — or misshaped — by the potent magic they seek to wield. Yet though their abilities may be godlike, these men and women remain human — some might say all too human. Such is their curse. And their glory.
In these pages, seventeen of today's top fantasy writers — including award-winners Elizabeth Bear, John Crowley, Kate Elliott, K.J. Parker, Tim Powers, and Liz Williams — cast wondrous spells that thrillingly evoke the mysterious, awesome, and at times downright terrifying worlds where magic reigns supreme: worlds as far away as forever, and as near as next door.
Contents: - The Return of the Pig by K.J. Parker - Community Service by Megan Lindholm - Flint and Mirror by John Crowley - The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable by Matthew Hughes - The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror, Chapter II: Jumping Jack in Love by Ysabeau S. Wilce - Song of Fire by Rachel Pollack - Loft the Sorcerer by Eleanor Arnason - The Governor by Tim Powers - Sungrazer by Liz Williams - The Staff in the Stone by Garth Nix - No Work of Mine by Elizabeth Bear - Widow Maker by Lavie Tidhar - The Wolf and the Manticore by Greg Van Eekhout - The Devil's Whatever by Andy Duncan - Bloom by Kate Elliott - The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril by Scott Lynch
Gardner Raymond Dozois was an American science fiction author and editor. He was editor of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine from 1984 to 2004. He won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, both as an editor and a writer of short fiction. Wikipedia entry: Gardner Dozois
"The Book of Magic" is the latest in what now has become an annual collection of hefty anthology series consisting of:
2009 - "Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance" 2010 – "Warriors - a military-themed cross-genre anthology" 2010 - "Songs of Love and Death" 2011 - "Down These Strange Streets" 2013 - "Dangerous Women" 2013 – "Old Mars" 2014 – "Rogues" 2015 - "Old Venus" 2017 - "The Book of Swords" 2018 - "The Book of Magic"
Contents and my story ratings for "The Book of Magic":
xi - Introduction by Gardner Dozois -** 003 - “The Return of the Pig” by K. J. Parker - *** 031 - “Community Service” by Megan Lindholm - *** 061 -“Flint and Mirror” by John Crowley - ** 093 - “The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable” by Matthew Hughes - ***** 125 - “The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror: Chapter Two: Jumping Jack in Love” by Ysabeau S. Wilce - ** 147 - “Song of Fire” by Rachel Pollack - **** 187 - “Loft the Sorcerer” by Eleanor Arnason - **** 217 - “The Governor” by Tim Powers - ** 243 - “Sungrazer” by Liz Williams - **** 271 - “The Staff in the Stone” by Garth Nix - **** 303 - “No Work of Mine” by Elizabeth Bear - *** 327 - “Widow Maker” by Lavie Tidhar - *** 361 - “The Wolf and the Manticore” by Greg Van Eekhout - ** 393 - “A Night at the Tarn House” by George R. R. Martin (reprint) - ***** 431 - “The Devil’s Whatever” by Andy Duncan - *** 467 - “Bloom” by Kate Elliott - **** 513 - “The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril” by Scott Lynch - **** 555 – Story Copyrights 557 – About the Type
Dust Jacket by Steve Youll
The best two inclusions in this anthology are the Matthew Hughes and the reprinted George R.R. Martin stories.
I picked just a few of these from some favorite authors, and all were quite good. In particular, the Scott Lynch story, which is the longest in the collection and a bit of a departure from his normal fare, as well as the story by Matthew Hughes, who never fails to deliver an utterly amusing experience.
The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable by Matthew Hughes (4.5) - A jealous wizard bites off more than he can chew when he takes on an upstart wizard with enigmatic powers. Hughes has a real gift for witty fantasy and colorful characters, and I love the Dying Earth setting.
Widow Maker by Lavie Tidhar (3.0) - Starts very strong as a quest into the deadly battlefield of an ancient magical war, with a heavy sense of foreboding. Yet at some point the story goes off the rails and I was scratching my head trying to make sense of it.
A Night at the Tarn House by George R R Martin (4.0) - Excellent story, quite dark, and unfortunately lacking Vance's signature sprinklings of levity. First published I believe in one of the best tribute anthologies of all time, Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance.
The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril by Scott Lynch (4.5) - Wonderfully amusing, and a departure from the usual rogue/theif centered stories Lynch tends to gravitate towards. This one is quite witty and Vancean, and would feel right at home in a collection of Dying Earth stories.
The usual mix of high quality, diverse and imaginative tales that one expects from a Gardner Dozois anthology. There is a selection of authors from very different backgrounds. This may have been Dozois’ last anthology. RIP Gardner. We will miss your wonderful story collections.
The theme is obviously magic and fantasy. There are witches, wizards, sorcerers, etc.
The Return of the Pig by K.J. Parker (aka Tom Holt)
Audio reader: Elliot Hill
Weird and gripping tale of nasty and brutal wizardly rivalry and political intrigue involving (among other things) revenants, restless spirits returned from death in animal form (one as a pig, as the title implies). The wizards are “friends” but also deadly competitors.
English actor Elliot Hill is a perfect fit as the audio narrator.
Community Service by Megan Lindholm (aka Robin Hobb)
Audio reader: Karissa Vacker
A ne’er do well sometime drug addict friend, Farky, shows up at Celtsie’s pet boarding store in Tacoma. He’s betrayed her and stolen from her in the past and Celtsie wants nothing to do with him. But although she’s thoroughly annoyed with his manipulative ways, she somehow feels obliged to help him. Celtsie does magic (the real kind) in secret. Farky’s been sentenced by a local judge to community service. This involves driving around a frightening and bizarre old woman, Ms. Migo. Farky thinks this lady is doing some evil deeds and must be stopped. Against her better judgement, Celtsie gets drawn in.
Karissa Vacker is a very suitable and skillful audio narrator.
Flint and Mirror by John Crowley
Audio read by Sheila Birmingham
I love John Crowley’s prose, but he’s not for everyone.
This story is a lyrical tale about legendary 16th century Irish chieftain Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone and the O’Neill (head of the O’Neill clan). Hugh is taken to England to be educated. Dr. John Dee, the famous alchemist and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, finds a way to subjugate Hugh to Elizabeth. But back in Ireland, the sidhe command him as well. Crowley tells the story in the beautiful, mystical prose of an Irish epic. The only disappointment is the unresolved ending. Hugh eventually led Irish resistance to England, but this story ends before that happened.
Sheila Birmingham, with her lovely Irish brogue, is a wonderful reader for this.
The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable by Matthew Hughes
Audio reader: Maxwell Caulfield
An vain and evil wizard gets his comeuppance.
British-American actor Maxwell Caulfield reads this flawlessly.
Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror, Chapter II: Jumping Jack in Love by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Audio reader: Susan Denaker
Funny story in Wilce’s inimitable style. True love never comes easily. Jack, dandy, gourmand, thief extraordinaire, has to jump through an unusual number of hoops to find his love.
Actress Susan Denaker is not my favorite reader, but her style does suit this story.
Song of Fire by Rachel Pollack
Audio reader: Scott Brick
Jack Shade is an occult detective and crime fighter. He is a “traveller” who travels between different planes and dimensions. Jack lives and works in a New York hotel. Archie, a djinn, asks Jack to take on a difficult case involving the survival of the entire djinn race.
Read by Scott Brick, one of my favorite audio readers. Brick reads in an understated yet emotional style.
Loft the Sorcerer by Eleanor Arnason
Audio reader: Bruce Mann
Quite a story. This is based on a Icelandic folk tale. Loft is a young magician whose arrogance and selfishness cause plenty of trouble for both himself and others. He dabbles in forbidden magic and along the way torments fellow students, turns serving women into a horse and a swan and is captured by a large ugly troll maid.
Loved the story, but wasn’t wild about Bruce Mann’s reading.
The Governor by Tim Powers
Audio reader: Holly Palance
Weird and compelling story about the nasty intra family squabbles of a magical family in California after the death of its patriarch.
Actress Holly Palance is an excellent reader.
Sungrazer by Liz Williams
Audio reader: Nicholas Guy Smith
An enchanting ghost story involving an elderly English astronomer/magician, stars, and a comet.
British actor Nicholas Guy Smith’s reading is utterly captivating. One of the best audio narrations I’ve ever heard.
The Staff in the Stone by Garth Nix
Audio reader: Steve West
Wizards battle it out in a magical forest. Ok story, but not my favorite.
No Work of Mine by Elizabeth Bear
Audio reader: Tonya Cornelisse
More internecine war among wizards, using mechanical animals and birds they’ve created as weapons.
Found the story confusing and convoluted, trying too hard to be clever and original. Didn’t care about the characters.
I wasn’t crazy about actress Tonya Cornelisse’s reading either. It seemed a bit affected.
Widow Maker by Lavie Tidhar
Audio reader: Stephen Mendel
Strange, hallucinogenic story with a quality like a trip through the bardo. Gorel is a magician/mercenary for hire, searching for his vanished homeland in a war torn world. He hires on as the muscle for a strange expedition into some high, remote, and snowy mountains. The story makes little sense, but is compelling anyway.
Stephen Mendel reads the story well.
The Wolf and the Manticore by Greg Van Eekhout
Audio reader: Almarie Guerra
A tale involving osteomancy (bone magic) and a war between Southern California and Northern California. Agnes, a spy for the North, gets caught in the middle. Most of the story takes place in Los Angeles. The story also involves the manticore and wolf of the title (the latter a triple headed monstrosity).
Absorbing story, well read by bilingual actress Almarie Guerra.
A Night at the Tarn House by George R.R. Martin
Audio reader: John Lee
Sorcerous nastiness, rivalry, and trickery at the Tarn House, a creepy inn in a dying world. The rivals include a slimy hedge sorcerer, a haughty and arrogant grand wizard, and a pretty girl magician who hides her dislike of wizards under a flirtatious manner.
I sometimes don’t like John Lee’s readings, but here he’s brilliant. His detached, aristocratic British accent is the perfect foil for this deliciously unkind brew.
The Devil’s Whatever by Andy Duncan
Audio reader: Kimberly Farr
A wonderfully outrageous Southern tall tale about a couple of wizards and the Devil. Petey Wheatstraw, a handsome, debonair, egotistical wizard, pisses off his father-in-law, Old Scratch, who plans to punish him eternally. Enter wizard number two, Pearleen Sunday, to the rescue.
Actress Kimberly Farr is a marvelous reader. Her Southern drawl is perfect.
Bloom by Kate Elliott
Audio reader: Kristen Ariza
An audio narrator can make or break a story. Not sure if the problem here was the story itself or Ariza’s bland reading or both. A kind of generic tale of mages scouring the land for new talent for their houses. And a pretty woman who uses marriage to get ahead (sigh)..It felt like there was nothing new or interesting here.
The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril by Scott Lynch
Audio reader: Lincoln Hoppe
I confess to not always paying close attention to this complicated mini epic. May need to reread. It starts out as the story of the Wizard Malkuril. And becomes much more. Actor Lincoln Hoppe is a fine (and funny) reader.
Voto mediato tra i singoli voti dei racconti presenti in questa raccolta "tematica", incentrata sulla magia.
Come quasi sempre accade in questi casi, abbiamo esempi fulgidi di come dovrebbe essere un racconto di questo tipo (ottimi i racconti di Martin e di Lynch... nel primo caso la cosa non stupisce più di tanto, nel secondo aumenta il rimpianto per le difficoltà che trova coi romanzi) e prove molto meno riuscite (i racconti di Crowley, Williams, Duncan e soprattutto Wilce non mi sono piaciuti affatto). La media comunque è buona, e abbiamo veri esperti del genere (sia inteso come racconto che come magia) quali Parker, Robin Hobb -presente come Lindholm-, Nix.
Chiaramente ho sfruttato questo volume per segnarmi qualche autore, con lo scopo di leggere altro degli autori che non conoscevo e che mi hanno stupito favorevolmente.
We've reached the (most likely) last anthology that Gardner Dozois edited during his lifetime. He didn't live to see it published. Now, unless the big publishing houses start doing some Jimi Hendrix or J.R.R. Tolkien trick, where they come up with new material some 40-50 years after (supposedly from the artists' attics), we can safely assume this is it.
Sister anthology of last year's The Book of Swords this one obviously follows the same formula: 17 novelettes, ranging from the medieval to the urban fantasy, all but one being originals. Just like the former book, a lot of unevenness is present here as well (especially in the beginning); but that was never a reason to stop an anthology fan from "digging". Some of the authors return, some even with stories set in the same universe.
Average score is 2.7. Rounded up to 3. Story breakdown:
• The Return of the Pig - K.J. Parker: 1* Funny how this anthology opens with the same two authors that The Book of Swords opened with last year. Not funny how those were 5* stories and these are... not. I started this story with high expectations, having been impressed by the few Parker stories I had read previously. This time however, he comes up with an artificial style that I totally hated. I had to literally force myself to turn the pages. Some wizard's on a journey of self-discovery or some prosaic thing like that. No idea, really. Gave up on.
• Community Service - Megan Lindholm: 2* Suburban fantasy, in a style 'a la Stephen King'. Cute setting and characters, but the "evil witch eats plastic toys" plot made me roll my eyes too often to be able to enjoy the story.
• Flint and Mirror - John Crowley: 1* Irish whiskey, Irish coffee, Irish leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, rugby, whatever. I was unable to read a single word in this story that wasn't Capitalized and Irish-ed. Not even sure if it was fantasy or not. Too many local details, too clunky a narration. Next!
• The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable - Matthew Hughes: 3* We are back to Hughes' tribute to Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" milieu. This time I felt some influences of Michael Moorcock's "Dancers at the End of Time" as well. The plot is nothing spectacular here, but he manages the tribute well enough for a good story.
• Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror, Chapter II: Jumping Jack in Love - Ysabeau S. Wilce: 1* Did I ever mention how I hate seeing every other word starting with caps? All you have to do is just glance at some of the paragraphs in this story to see it brimming with "Norge Azul", "Holy Whore", "Man in Pink Blossoms", "Most Cake", etc. How am I supposed to read past these? Oh, and what's with the crazy title?
• Song of Fire - Rachel Pollack: 4* Now this is how urban fantasy should be done. Cramming in more concepts than other people's trilogies, this was a difficult read, and I'm not sure I grasped half of what was going on. But the incredible setting and plot made me look up the author's other related works.
• Loft the Sorcerer - Eleanor Arnason: 4* Finally! Now we're talking. Classical fantasy, featuring a very interesting setting - an Iceland where Christianity mixes with Paganism, and bishops walk alongside trolls, elves, and magicians. The good-old style adventure-type plot concerns an aspiring magician captured by a troll and plotting his escape.
• The Governor - Tim Powers: 1* The hills of Hollywood - as funny as it sounds - are probably among the least likely settings for a fantasy story. This aside, the bazillion characters I was hit with in the first two pages made me cringe. The bland action combined with the setting made me drop this story after two other pages.
• Sungrazer - Liz Williams: 4* This one starts off as interesting ghost story in a Gothic setting, but then turns out to expand into communicating with celestial objects in order to guide them around the universe. I'm not even sure I got the gist of it, but I certainly liked it.
• The Staff in the Stone - Garth Nix: 3* We've certainly got another classical fantasy type story here. Too static though, and the plot not all that interesting, or it would've scored more than 3.
• No Work of Mine - Elizabeth Bear: 2* In this setting wizards create magical animals of various sizes as pets. Now some of them have run amok and it's up to the main character to set them straight again. Very Pokemon-inspired, and not very well written. I had trouble keeping up with the plot.
• Widow Maker - Lavie Tidhar: 5* This is the thing about anthologies (and the adventurous reading spirit). Like Forrest Gump used to say in the eponymous motion picture, "life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get". I started with high expectations for the Parker story, and with low for the Tidhar story. And it went the other way around. Set in a world somewhat reminiscent of Wolfe's Long Sun (which I liked, but not his writing style), this one features a gunslinger prince roaming a desolate world in search of his estranged home. The plot, characters, but especially the background are just fabulous. I have to admit I found other of Tidhar's writings in other Dozois anthologies, mostly set in the Central Station milieu, to be unreadable. Even last year's entry in "The Book of Swords", set in the same universe. This one is a jaw-dropper though.
• The Wolf and the Manticore - Greg van Eekhout: 4* Some strange and interesting setting we have here. It's like China Mieville's weird creatures meets Tom Clancy's spy novels meets Harry Turtledove's alternate history tales. I couldn't figure out whether the California of this story is in the future, in an alternate universe, or simply made-up. A few animal-shapeshifting wizards engage in some corporate espionage game. The plot isn't stellar, but enough of a seat-edger.
• A Night at the Tarn House - George R.R. Martin: 4* This is the single novelette of this anthology which has been published before (another of Dozois' anthologies: Songs of the Dying Earth). Whatever. Who cares? Since we're on cross-overs, here you've got a Quentin Tarantino film set in Jack Vance's Dying Earth. A number of wizards enter a desolate remote inn and have quite a showdown. All of Vance's tricks are in use here. The character naming "conventions", the witty style, the funny/grim plot. Wish he could produce more of these.
• The Devil's Whatever - Andy Duncan: 2* The devil's son-in-law... or whatever (no pun intended) travels through time and creates devil legends. I had to force myself to finish this one. I didn't like the style at all. The idea was ok-ish.
• Bloom - Kate Elliott: 1* Another story in which I was unable to progress past the 5th page or so. Didn't understand the style, the setting, anything.
• The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril - Scott Lynch: 4* Lynch plies his very accessible style to a story that starts out in Vance style (all-powerful semi-funny wizards), but slowly evolves in a whole nother kind of beast: an AI acting as gods over "lower" life-forms, and their struggle to cope with it.
While this was Dozois' last published anthology, it surely isn't going to be the last I read. I still have to catch up with 20 year's best of's and some other "regular" 10.
Hopefully the torch will be picked up and we'll get to see more of this kind of anthologies in the future.
Se sborníky je obvykle problém v tom, že tam jsou parádní věci od slavných autorů, pár překvapení od neznámých autorů… a pak čistě vata a povídky určené k naplňování rozmanitosti. Což platí i tady… ovšem ty kvalitní autoři to vyvažují a nejsou tu žádné vyloženě špatné věci, takže je nakonec celkový výsledek dost nadprůměrný.
Asi nejprve to, co mě nebavilo a čemu bych dal dva body z pěti. Pazourek a zrcadlo (John Crowley) – Malý, velký jsem od něj nečetl a podle všeho jsem udělal dobře. Spoustu okras, historických parádiček, žádný děj. Životopis skákajícího poděsa, kapitola druhá: Jak se Hopsavec Honza zamiloval (Ysabeau S. Wilceová) – Název je zábavný a dlouhý a to je asi tak všechno. Je to stylizované do pohádky, ale bez jiskry a hravosti. Styl neutáhne všechno. Tulák v přísluní (Liz Williamsová) – Atmosférický rozjezd, originální spojení magie a astronomie, ale pro mě to překročilo hranice uvěřitelnosti. A ty mám nastavené dost široké. Tohle není mé dílo (Elizabeth Bearová) - Hodně zajímavý začátek, magie i hrdinka… ale povídka vám naservíruje zajímavou záhadu (točící se kolem magického imitátora tvořícího bootlegová kouzla), aby se nad tím pak mávla rukou. Ničitel (Lavie Tidhar) – Naprosto nezajímavá „conanovka“, bez nápadu, atmosféry a Conana. Rozpuk (Kate Elliotová) - Každý správný sborník musí obsahovat něco angažovaného. A od toho je tu Rozpuk, příběh o těžkém osudu talentovaných žen s magickým nadáním, a jejích utiskování zlými muži.
A to máme vyčerpáno dno sborníku. Z průměru je tu ještě Píseň ohně (Rachell Polacková), urban fantasy, kterých jsou v knihkupectví plné police a podobně solidní střed Hůl v kameni (Garth Nix), kde hají kouzelník magický artefakt před čím dál silnějším útočníky. Hezký rozjezd, nudné vyústění.
A teď k tomu nejlepšímu.
Návrat prasete (K. J. Parkerová) Tahle povídka mě svým začátkem přesvědčila, že bych měl tuhle knihu přece jen zkusit a nenechat se odradit cenou, která mi už opravdu přišla přepálená. Od autora, který často píše pod ženským jménem, jsem už pár věcí četl a i když mě příběhově zase tak nestrhly, pořád byly zajímavé a dobře napsané, s charismatickými hrdiny. A to platí i o téhle povídce. Jednoduchý příběh, ale skvěle vyprávěný. S tímhle hrdinou by si člověk klidně přečetl další věci. (4/5)
Veřejná služba (Megan Lindholmová alias Robin Hobb) I když toho od ní vyšla česky kvanta, nikdy jsem nic nečetl. A proto mě překvapilo, že se mi tahle povídka líbila opravdu hodně. Ano, tlačí na emoce, ale funguje to. Zajímavý je i protivník a systém magie, i hlavní hrdinka. Jen je to povídka, kterou nesmím dát číst ženě. Ona násilí na hračkách těžko snáší. A já koneckonců taky. (5/5)
Masquelayne Neporovnatelný a jeho přátelé (Matthew Hughes) V předmluvě je psáno, že se autor inspiroval Jackem Vancem… a upřímně, ani to tam psát nemuseli, protože Vance z toho čiší na sto honů. Jak amorálností hrdinů, tak naivně-sarkastickým pohádkovým stylem. Ano, originál je originál, ale rozhodně tahle povídka nedělá Vancemu ostudu. (4/5)
Čaroděj Loft (Eleonor Arnasonová) Jednoduchá legenda, ale dobře převyprávěná… a tyhle příběhy o pokušení ďáblem stále fungují. Navíc, je tu hodně zajímavé prostředí Islandu… a i velký důraz na křesťanské svaté. Což si fakt moc nevzpomínám, že by křesťanství hrálo ve fantasy jinou roli než zápornou. (4/5)
Regulátor (Tim Powers) Svého času byl u nás Tim Powers hodně populární, hlavně díky skvělým Branám Anubisovým… ale pak úplně vymizel. A po téhle povídce se to zdá jako zatracená škoda. Tentokrát tu nemáme jednoho mága, ale celou rodinu. Její patriarcha právě zemřel a potomci řeší závěť… a to, aby se otec nevrátil zpátky ze záhrobí. Což může být komplikovanější, než se zdá. (5/5)
Vlk a mantichora (Greg van Eekhout) Magická špionážka z alternativního vesmíru. Opět, poměrně jednoduchý příběh (taky je to povídka a ne román), ale v zajímavém světě a se zajímavými postavami. (4/5)
Noc v hostinci u Plesa (George R. R. Martin) George R. R. napsal povídku ze světa Jacka Vance? To si člověk nesmí nechat ujít! (Jack Vance je nějak v módě, tohle už je druhá jím inspirovaná povídka). A je vidět, že Martin je profík, jak z hlediska vyprávění, které je skvěle dávkované, tak z hlediska atmosféry a postav. V podivné hospodě na umírající Zemi se schází několik podivných existencí, aby přežili do rána… a možná se i pozabíjeli. (5/5)
Čertovo kdovíco (Andy Duncan) To, co se skákajícímu poděsovi nepovedlo, je tady zvládnuté na výbornou. Lehce vyprávěná bajka s inspirovaná americkým Jihem. Něco mezi Lansdalem a Gaimanem. Příběh není zrovna komplikovaný, ale vážně mile podaný a živelně odvyprávěný. (4/5)
Pád a vzestup domu čaroděje Malkurila (Scott Lynch) Poslední povídka sborníku – a opět výborná. Co se stane, když mocný mág, obklopen davy sloužících a magických bytostí, obývající osamělou planetu, zemře po pádu ze schodů díky rozvázané tkaničce? (5/5)
Ve výsledku… podle mě je to lepší sborník, než byla první Kniha mečů. A ono tam asi nějaké ty slabší povídky mají být – aby pak člověk ocenil ty skvělé.
All the stories are pleasant and entertaining; most of them are pretty generic and unmemorable. "Powerful magicians" is a pretty hoary trope, and while the authors portray it well, it feels like a good rendition of something I've seen a million times before.
My main takeaway would be not to read this all at once. One story at a time would probably be a welcome entertainment; a bunch of them in sequence felt very tedious to me. (Full disclosure: at some point I started skipping between the stories; I might come back later reporting a gem I'd previously missed.)
My favorites here are: * "Community Service" by Megan Lindholm, is a pitch-perfect low-key urban fantasy piece * "The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril," by Scott Lynch, which combines great humor and sentiment imagining the goings-on in a mighty wizard's estate following his sudden demise * "The Friends of Masquelayne The Incomparable," by Matthew Hughes, is very much Hughes' regular beat of over-the-top curmudgeonly wizards having wizardly catfights for power and prestige. This one is excellently constructed, and full of Hughes' typical excellent humor.
COMMUNITY SERVICE (5*) by Megan Lindholm (aka Robin Hobb) is just fantastic. I want more. I read a snippet somewhere suggesting she might be attempting a full length novel with the protagonist. Please. I loved the bit about the junk drawer and the bookish magic: the world building is first class.
I felt the vindictive satisfaction of someone who was finally able to betray a traitorous friend.
I knew if he apologised again I'd never be able to forgive him. There's something terrible about hearing someone say they're sorry when they truly understand just how bad they hurt you.
I though it at him, trying to find my anger and make it hot again'.
Cigarette in one hand, banana in the other. I hate him, but I didn't hate him so much as I knew him.
'I don't know why anyone has a living room when they could have a library instead.'
Everyone knows that short story collections will be a mixed bag. This one was a better bag than most. I only disliked 3 out of 17, which is very good odds for a short story compilation. I found the Bouncing Boy Terror to be irritating in its alliteration, the GRRM one to be as creepily porny as he always is, and the Andy Duncan Americana one to be just awful. I cannot stand Americana lit. I don't even know if Americana is the word. Like, folksy squared. Excessive folk. Unacceptable.
But Masquelayne, Loft, Garth Nix (I always love him), and the Manticore were so good. This book really redeemed short story collections for me, as I had run afoul of quite a few dodgy ones in 2019.
"Here are dreams that, it is my fervent hope, will still be touching other people's minds and hearts and stirring them in their turn to dream long after everyone in this anthology or associated with it have gone to dust," says the introduction to what's presumably the last collection overseen by the great anthologist Dozois. Reading that, one inevitably wonders whether he knew his own departure was scheduled for even before its publication. A companion piece to The Book of Swords, it claims on the back to be 17 original pieces, which isn't quite true; George RR Martin's contribution previously appeared in their Dying Earth tribute anthology. Which is a shame, both because it's always nice to read a new novella from GRRM, and because the ire with which the more entitled Song of Ice and Fire fans greet anything that isn't Winds of Winter is hilarious. Still, there are treasures here, not least a John Crowley story which could be considered a sort of deleted scene from his great Aegypt quartet. Obviously, not all the contributions are of that standard: Matthew Hughes' ongoing Jack Vance pastiche lapses from just being faintly pointless into feeling a little rude when he echoes a real and as far as I know quite civil magician's name by calling an absolute arsehole of a thaumaturge Masquelayne. And there's a creaking mess of repetition and exposition which leaves me even more confused about why some people are so into Rachel Pollack. But for the most part, even if I wouldn't actively seek out more by every contributor, I enjoyed them, from Ysabeau Wilce (whose style is enough to make Cat Valente read like Hemingway, but charming in this short burst) to Liz Williams (a haunting little winter tale of celestial magic which protects the world without ever being noticed). Elsewhere, Lavie Tidhar continues the Moorcock-inflected saga of an exiled and addicted gunman which we also glimpsed in The Book of Swords – though for me this installment worked much better. And the collection is wrapped up by Scott Lynch, whose short stories I always enjoy much more than the one novel I attempted, and who takes the apt theme of a magician's house continuing on its own strange path after its master's demise – which would seem to bring us full circle to that introduction.
... Magic predates Art. In fact, Art may have been invented as a tool to express Magic, to give Magic a practical means of execution—to make it work. So that if you go back far enough, artist and sorcerer are indistinguishable, one and the same—a claim that can still be made with a good deal of validity to this very day. —Gardner Dozois
Having a great love for Gardner Dozois' science fiction anthologies and loving the cover, I decided to give this collection a whirl. Disappointingly, it rather missed the mark for me. Mind, it's not a horrible book. Most of the stories in it are good; however, only two genuinely stood out as excellent tales.
I have no idea if this simply wasn't his best work or if something else altogether was the problem. He was, after all, coming rapidly to the end of his life as he worked on this, not living long enough to even see it published. A person who feels unwell doesn't perform their best.
The two stories that did stand out to me were as follows:
“The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril” by Scott Lynch 5 stars Clever and funny, yet with some depth. An altogether charming story.
“The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable” by Matthew Hughes 5 stars A vindictively satisfying story for those of us who revel in the petty.
More diverse than Book of Swords, but that’s to be expected with the change of subject. Magic does not have to be wandwork, incantations or potions, but can be pretty much anything. Like eating toys to remain young (Yes, that’s an actual thing in one story. Thank you Megan Lindholm!). It can also be set successfully in different moods and tones. All from heart crushing to overly whimsical. So whatever your thing is, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in here.
But overall the stories did not pack the same punch as the previous collection. Which is also a result of the change of subject. Magic, unlike weapons, is such a complex subject that needs to be throughly introduced and explained to get me involved. And in short stories where there’s limited room for storytelling, character development and other areas can easily suffer. But the book is very well edited and the stories are well written with many interesting subjects, so I did really enjoy it. Especially, to no ones surprise, ”Community Service” by Megan Lindholm (also known as Robin Hobb) who is on top of her game as usual. If you have the urge to read a short story but can’t decide which kind, pick this book up. Because every author have put in their own unique flavour in it.
The Book of Magic carries on what The Book of Swords achieved by bringing together a finely edited compilation of stories once more. This time, of course, it was centered around magic and it's users and seeing the many interpretations of that was excellent. I liked most of the stories in this, though I few didn't quite reach me the way I would hope as with any collection. Overall, I recommend this if you want a taste of magic!
My third book in the #dymocksreadingchallenge is The Book of Magic! Like all of the Gardner Dozois (RIP) anthologies, it's a hell of a stacked deck of authors, including Garth Nix, Tim Powers, and Scott Lynch. Like any anthology, there are some stories you like more than others- I didn't particularly like one about Irish folklore, for example- but some are real great. The real gutpunch story here is Megan "Robin Hobb" Lindholms, which is creepy and heartbreaking.
Short stories anthologies are not my favorites, but this was mostly enjoyable, squeezed in between other books. My favorites come from pens of George R.R.Martin(a surprise, seeing as I abandoned ASOIAF) and Matthew Hughes. It was also nice to read more Ysabeau S. Wilce, and it's high time to start reading some Kate Elliott work.
Decent collection of fantasy short stories. Personally I enjoyed the offerings from K.J. Parker, Matthew Hughes, Tim Parker, Garth Nix, and Scott Lynch the most. I'll definitely have to track down more stuff by all of these authors.
As with any anthology, there were some good, some great, and a few meh. The sheer variety was impressive, though, and I discovered a few new-to-me authors. yay! Highlights for me included THE BIOGRAPHY OF A BOUNCING BOY TERROR: CHAPTER TWO: JUMPING JACK IN LOVE, by Ysabeau S Wilce and THE STAFF IN THE STONE, by Garth Nix.
The Return of the Pig by K.J. Parker 4* - I enjoyed this story. A fund series of misadventures that end up revealed to be of an unseen purpose by our narrator wizard.
Community Services by Megan Lindholm 5* - Sad and tragic. This one hit me right in the gut, probably because I'm a dad watching my daughter grow up and leaving some toys behind.
Flint and Mirror by John Crowley 3* - Promising start to the story but it did satisfy me with the resolution.
The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable, by Matthew Hughes 5* - This one was so much fun to read. The POV of Masquelayne is quite villainous.
The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror: Chapter II: Jumping Jack in Love, by Ysabeau S. Wilce 3* - This story was in the frame of a story being told to children and it was full of colorful words and poetic imagery. I didn't follow what was going on and it wasn't for me. Someone else may enjoy it though.
This was a wonderful read; I wrote down all the authors to find their works separately. Short stories are always a hit with me, but this collection was so diverse and not a single story I didn't finish. Gardner Dozois died in 2018 which made me want to go and not only read his stuff, but find his other collections. I'm currently looking for "The Book of Swords" at the library, but I'm not sure it can top this.
Short story collection he was editing when he died, his estate published it. An ok collection of fantasy topped easily by the last story in it. The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril, by Scott Lynch, was wonderful. The rest of the stories varied from 2 to 4, but that was a 5.
Otwórz drzwi, przejdź przez próg i zawitaj w pełnym magii świecie ! Świecie pełnym czarodziejów, tych dobrych jak i złych, nieziemskich stworzeń, magicznych i niebezpiecznych przedmiotów, zatrać się w nim i przeżyj najwspanialszą przygodę.
Do świata skrzącego magią zaprasza wszystkich miłośników fantastyki wydawnictwo Zysk i S-ka obdarzając nas, czytelników, tą pokaźną antologią pod tytułem "Księga magii".
W zbiorze tym znajdziemy wiele opowiadań z uniwersum fantasy. Siedemnastu autorów dzieli się z nami swoją zaskakującą i bogatą wyobraźnią. Taka ilość opowiadań zapewni uśmiech na Twarzy każdego fana fantastyki. I każdy z nich na pewno znajdzie tu coś dla siebie, bowiem jest z czego wybierać.
Trudno w recenzji opisać wszystkie opowiadania, dlatego ja podzielę się z Wami tymi, które podbiły moje serce. Ale wszystkie bez różnicy są intrygujące, napisane bardzo dobrym językiem, porządnym stylem, niosą ze sobą ważne przesłania, które zostaną nam w głowie.
Mi do gustu przypadły najbardziej opowiadania "Prace społeczne" Megan Lindholm, w którym zmierzymy się ze zjadaczką zabawek i odnajdziemy odniesienia do Czarnoksiężnika z Krainy Oz; "Przyjaciele Masquelayne'a Niezrównanego" Matthew Hughes'a, gdzie spotkamy czarodzieja, który na własnej skórze przekona się, że chciwość i próżność nie popłaca, a przyjaciół jednakowoż warto posiadać; "Pieśń ognia" Rachel Pollack, w której wspólnie z Wędrowcem Jackiem Shade'm uratujemy od wyginięcia dżinnów i poznamy tajemniczych kallistochów, a także "Czarnoksiężnik Loft" Eleanor Arnason, gdzie poznamy historię Lofta, który przez kradzież i praktykowanie zakazanej magii wpakuje się w niemałe kłopoty, zostanie dłużnikiem samego diabła, a także na swej drodze napotka trolle, a nawet elfy !
Spośród tych siedemnastu opowieści naprawdę trudno wybrać te najlepsze, bo każde z nich ma w sobie coś wyjątkowego i na swój sposób zachwyca. Dla mnie najważniejsze jest to, że każde opowiadanie z tej antologii ma ważne przesłanie, jak baśnie i bajki, które kocham do dziś. Nie lada gratką dla fanów pióra G.R.R. Martina będzie informacja, że w zbiorze tym znajdą jego premierowe opowiadanie "Noc w Oberży przy Stawie".
Dzięki tej antologii poznałam autora Tima Powers'a, twórcę powieści "Na nieznanych wodach", na podstawie której nakręcono czwarty film z mojej ukochanej serii Piraci z Karaibów. Muszę koniecznie przeczytać tę powieść ! A także dzięki temu zbiorowi powróciłam do tego niesamowitego, zapierającego dech w piersiach świata magii, w którym dawno mnie nie było.
Na uwagę zasługuje na pewno wydanie antologii. Wydawnictwu Zysk i S-ka należą się wielkie brawa, bowiem wydanie to jest przepiękne. Twarda oprawa i te kolory ! No sami spójrzcie, czyż nie zachwyca i nie zachęca do sięgnięcia po nią? :)
Podsumowując, polecam z całego serca. Sięgnijcie po "Księgę magii" i zabłądźcie w tych niezwykłych światach. Niezapomniane przygody - gwarantowane !
Za egzemplarz do recenzji dziękuję wydawnictwo Zysk i S -ka.
A nice collection of tales about magic; some whimsical, others grim. Because I can't rate the stories individually (as one must have done to be fair), I am rating this book as an anthology, and it does this work pretty spectacularly. There are no stories included that left me feeling unsatisfied or puzzled, and each was as uniquely enjoyable as the individual authors' styles and voices. There are some authors I probably wouldn't seek out separately, but that is more of a genre preference than a quality judgement. All the authors included are leaders in their fields, and their approaches to the problem of magic were interesting and fun. I particularly liked the following short stories: Community Service by Megan Lindholm - urban fantasy in which the MC helps an old frenemy with some unique magic methods and a cool idea of a "memento vampire" (My name for it, not hers) The Devil's Whatever by Andy Duncan - an almost folk tale or tall tale flavored story about how Petey (the devil's son in law) and Purline (a kind of mystic or witch) outwit the devil. The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malcuril by Scott Lynch - A whimsical, almost space-operatic tale about the house of a wizard who dies unexpectedly. I could almost believe this was conceived as a sci-fi story retrofitted to work in an anthology about magic, but the tale it weaves about an enchanted house gaining consciousness and surpassing its master was great.
I would not recommend this book for anyone religiously opposed to the idea of magic, as this book is chock full of the stuff in all flavors, from fairytale to forbidden. Several of the stories involve rituals or pacts with dark forces (though in my opinion this is only for flavor; there is no detailing of methods or philosophies you might be afraid of your children reading), and demonic characters. The stories are harmless, verbally profane, or mildly titillating at worst, and captivating, heart warming, and wondrous at best.
I would recommend the book for fantasy lovers of all creeds, especially those who might be looking for new authors or genres to read. The stories presented cover all sorts of magical fantasy, from almost sci-fi, pulpy, or persian in flavor, to urban, creole, and modern fantasy. Authors and world builders would especially like this book, because in it one sees a collection of solutions to various world building problems surrounding magic, offered by some of the best writers in the business.
If there is one thing I would have liked to have seen, it would be an example or two of East Asian fantasy or folklore.
Dawno nie trafiłam na tak równy, trzymający poziom zbiór opowiadań. Tutaj wszystkie teksty są przynajmniej dobre. Naprawdę każdy zasługuje na uwagę, a to, że któryś mi się mnie podobał spowodowane jest nie tym, że jest zły, tylko osobistymi preferencjami. KSIĘGA MAGII skupia w sobie świetną fantastykę, której motywem przewodnim jest - magia, czarownice, wiedźmy, czarnoksiężnicy i magowie. Świetna sprawa! Tak bardzo spodobał mi się ten tom, że już niedługo będę pisać o tomie I tej serii, czyli KSIĘDZE MIECZY. Nie wiem, czy aż tak przypadnie mi do gustu, jak ten, głównie dlatego, że tutaj autorzy skupiają się w swych krótkich formach na bohaterstwie w stylu króla Artura (zgaduję), a ja zdecydowanie wolę magię. Lecz! jestem właściwie pewna, że KSIĘGA MIECZY mnie nie zawiedzie, choćby biorąc pod uwagę styl i światy wykreowanie. KSIĘGA MAGII składa się z siedemnastu opowiadań współczesnych autorów i każde z tych opowiadań jest inne, w niczym niepodobne do poprzedniego. Zadziwiło i zachwyciło mnie to bogactwo fantazji. Tak, np. "Prace społeczne" (Megan Lindholm) prezentują historię osadzoną w "naszym" świecie, w której bohaterowie zmagają się z tajemniczą staruszką - no dobra, po prostu wiedźmą - która zjada zabawki. Rewelacyjnie mi się to czytało, choć sam pomysł był prosty i może nie jakiś głęboki, ale wykonany w taki sposób, że tekst daje przyjemność. Jednym z moich ulubieńców jest opowiadanie pt. "Przyjaciele Masquelayn'a Niezrównanego" (Matthew Hughes). Świat przedstawiony z miejsca wciąga, narracja jest płynna, a morał - co to za mocne zakończenie! Rewelacja! Interesującą opowieścią jest też "Biografia terroru podskakującego chłopca" (Ysabeau S. Wilce), która to została napisana żartobliwie i w dziwaczny sposób, który bardzo mi się podobał. Nie mogę nie wspomnieć o opowiadaniu premierowym George'a R.R. Martina "Noc w Oberży przy Stawie". Ja nie jestem fanką stylu tego autora, ale klimat tej historii bardzo mi odpowiadał - warto! Wielce wam polecam KSIĘGĘ MAGII. Długo ją sobie podczytywałam i teraz szkoda mi, że to koniec... ale nie! Wcale nie koniec! Mam przecież KSIĘGĘ MIECZY! Uff... Moim zdaniem to pozycja obowiązkowa dla fanów gatunku. Gardner Dozois wybrał nam rewelacyjne teksty do czytania o każdej porze roku i o każdej porze dnia. Polecam.
magia dobra i niedobra - opowiadania znakomite 8/10 tom II Wydawnictwo Zysk i S-ka