WOMEN OF MAGIC AND VALOR…
For over two decades, the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, best-selling and beloved author, discovered and nurtured a grand generation of popular and acclaimed authors including Mercedes Lackey, Jennifer Roberson, and a host of others. Authors who have appeared within the pages of Sword and Sorceress represent the full spectrum of some of the brightest talent working today — from C.J. Cherryh, Charles de Lint, and Emma Bull… to Laurell K. Hamilton, Diana L. Paxson, and. Deborah J. Ross.
We are proud to continue the classic and vibrant feminist tradition with this new volume, edited by Elisabeth Waters, secretary and co-editor to Mrs. Bradley.
Here are sixteen original stories of powerful women, swashbuckling and magic, spells and duels, arcane sorcery and heroic sacrifice, written by familiar spell-weavers of adventure and bright newcomers who are sure to become favorites.
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress XXII was a good read. Since it is an anthology, further below are my status updates with notes for each story.
My favorite stories were:
Black Ghost, Red Ghost
Child of the Father
Skin and Bones
I have to admit that this book doesn’t have the zing that I remember from the older MZB S&S anthologies but it was still an enjoyable read.
The editing was well done and I really enjoyed the stories but I think I’m a Sword & Sorcery purist. I wanted to see more action, fighting, and singular characters or small groups up against insurmountable odds. I only got this in two of sixteen stories: Black Ghost, Red Ghost and Child of the Father.
I can say that I met several new authors to look up…and isn’t that what anthologies are for?
Story by Story Comments
“Edra’s Arrow – Wonderful! With only a few words I was wrapped up in Edra’s tale. Very enjoyable.”
“A Nose for Trouble – Ok I guess…I wasn’t too impressed with the protagonist but I enjoyed the story itself but it left me feeling…unsatisfied.”
“Night Watches – cute but forgettable.”
“Vanishing Village – another cute story (but hardly action). A village “vanishes” by magic and a pair of female mages must rescue a trapped Duke’s son. Some of the writing was…young.”
“Pearl of Fire – A good story, but rather sad. It certainly carries the feeling of desolation that a lot of S&S stories have. I could not call this one “cute,” but it is well written with a lingering note of hope at the end.”
“The Ironwood Box – The story started slowly – a little boring, actually…then it got much more interesting in the middle. After that it tapered off again. The ending is rather like a fairy tale…take that how you want, lol.”
“Bearing Shadows – umm, not sure what i think of this one. It’s a good story but I wouldn’t call it S&S…more like a sad tale of a woman violated to gain a child. Yeah, mull that one over.”
“Black Ghost, Red Ghost – Now this is right up my alley! Action, suspense, and a single person against horrible odds. The best in the bunch so far (IMO)”
“The Decisive Princess – A good story, well written but not what I was expecting…it’s a re-write of “The Lady or the Tiger”
“Child of the Father – Another really good one! I would love to read more stories about these characters. Very well written with a twist that I wasn’t expecting.”
“Child of Ice, Child of Flame– pretty good story. Well written but sad. It was difficult to really get into due to how short it was – the world building was lacking. I really didn’t leave satisfied”
“Skin & Bones – this one was very interesting! It wasn’t what I expected – it certainly starts in medias res* but from the intro I know that there have been several of these stories written in the previous S&S anthologies. It left me wanting more and this is an author I plan to track down.”
“Crosswort Puzzle – another story in medias res*…usually I’m a big fan of these kind of tales but this one didn’t give enough info. The plot is solid, interesting, and well written but there are a lot of things left out. I appreciate the lack of authorial info dumping but I needed a little more. The characters kept referring to events/people that I would only be familiar with if I’d read previous shorts by the author.”
“Fairy Debt– very cute! Not what I would consider S&S but cute & well written!”
“Tontine – I’m not sure what to think of this one…it’s not typical. The story is of a warrior woman who entered into a magical tontine with her best friends. She is the last to survive so she has the dubious honor of winning the tontine. The story is well written and well paced. My only issue was the lack of resolution.”
“The Menagerie – A very cute, very quick and rather funny read. Great ending to the book!”
*In medias res or medias in res (into the middle of things) is a Latin phrase denoting the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, rather than at the beginning (cf. ab ovo, ab initio), establishing setting, character, and conflict via flashback and expository conversations relating the pertinent past. The main advantage of in media res is to open the story with dramatic action rather than exposition which sets up the characters and situation.