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Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology Paperback – August 7, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: MVmedia, LLC (August 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980084288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980084283
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,465,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Derrick on September 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
Before we get into the meat-n-potatoes of this review, it's necessary that Sherman set the Wayback Machine for 1970's so we can indulge in a brief history lesson for context: Charles R. Saunders is a writer who like most of you reading this review fell in love with the work of Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan, King Kull and Solomon Kane. REH is credited with being the creator of "sword and sorcery" a sub-genre of epic fantasy. Sword and sorcery concerns itself with stories driven by action, healthy doses of sex and violence and strong supernatural/magical elements.

So in love with sword and sorcery is he that Mr. Saunders sets about writing his own stories. And in doing so he determines to expand the genre by creating a black heroic fantasy character and set his adventures in a mythical Africa just as fabulous and dangerous as Howard's Hyborian Age. And with his stories of Imaro, Charles Saunders gives birth to what is now known as "sword and soul" which are fantasy stories with an African connection or featuring African characters

I've been a fan of Mr. Saunders and his work ever since I was a high school student back in the 70's and devouring heroic fiction at an appalling rate. And as the Wayback Machine brings us back to the present we can begin this review proper with the good news that sword-and-soul is not only thriving here and now, it is giving voice to a new generation of African American fantasy writers eager to explore the genre and continue to nourish it with their talents.

GRIOTS is an anthology of sword and soul stories co-edited by Mr. Saunders and Milton J. Davis who himself has long carved out his own territory in the genre. The fourteen stories in the book are:

"Captured Beauty" by Milton Davis.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Campos on April 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am ALWAYS searching for black sci-fi and fantasy. I am similar to some of the authors in that, as a kid, I had to write my own stories to read about someone like me doing fantastic things.

And I *really* enjoyed the stories for the most part. The plots were interesting and the people were definitely black...

But some of the stories stopped there.

Just describing a character as "black as night" and giving him an African sounding name and making him powerful doesn't make the character compelling. It also doesn't make an "ok" story great. In some stories it felt very re-done, as if the author was saying to himself "i read books where *this* type of thing happened and i wish it had been a black person in it, so i'm going to write that story again with my character."

You'll also notice that I have solely used the pronoun HE.


Ladies, if you are looking for some positive representation of yourselves, steer clear.

There was one female lead who kicked butt. Her story was one of learning, so she started as kind of a wimp and ended as a bad-aaz, with blood dripping from a sword and everyone staring at her like "OH SNAP!" But the most memorable female characters to me were:

1 - a queen who, although the author told you she was powerful and strong and smart, gave her body away to the first man to help save her kingdom. (Yeah, cause what Queen *wouldn't* sleep with the random sorcerer fighter guy that she just met. He saved her kingdom. He OBVIOUSLY deserves some lovin!)

2 - a pretty village girl whose duty it is to give her body to the champion before he fights and presumable dies.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ron Fortier on September 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This reviewer has often made it known that he enjoys anthologies for two reasons; the first being the concept of similarly themed tales from various writers collected between two cover is just plain fun. The second is the continued encouragement of the short story format. For many years academics were decrying the extinction of this form with the loss of so many monthly literary magazines and they were right to do so. But thanks to the emergence of genre themed anthologies, the short story has truly had a strong resurgence in popularity over the past decade.

Now comes this truly unique book which heralds the supposed creation of yet another fiction genre, that of "sword and soul." In the opening introduction, editors Davis and Saunders, both African Americans and leading writers in the field of fantasy adventure, detail a history of the genre first established by pulp writer Robert E. Howard when he invented sword and sorcery with his well known Conan adventures. Whereas Saunders entered the field in the 1970s with the creation of his own barbaric warrior hero, Imaro and later Davis followed suit, each imbuing this fantasy sub-genre with what they believe is a clearly felt African sensibility. Davis argues this is a new, original evolution of the well established sword and sorcery theme. Are they correct, or simply trying to sell us something old with a new coat of paint?

As always, reviewing an anthology to determine its entertainment worth is pure mathematics. You simply count how many stories are in the volume and then during the course of reading label those which are exceptional, those which are simply mediocre and those that are ineffective. At the end, whichever way the scales tip, you have your verdict.
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