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If you're confused by these book reviews...
on February 22, 2000
...That's because it's confusing. The *hardcover* edition contains the writings of eleven well-known fantasy authors. Each author tells a short story. There are *three paperback editions*, each containing just a few of the stories. The reviews on this page are a mixture of reviews for the eleven-story volume (the hardcover), and the five-story volume (the third paperback). THIS review covers only the five-story paperback edition.
Having said that, I'll tell you this book is excellent. Robert Silverberg, Tad Williams, Robert Jordan, Ursula Le Guin, and Terry Pratchett are the authors in this volume.
Someone in another review on this page foolishly said that the writers were "selling out"; that they wrote these novellas only to make some money, and promote their older writings. How wrong! While it certainly couldn't hurt any of their careers to write these short stories, every true author has stories inside him that would not make a full-length novel. Does that mean that the stories should never be written? That the stories should never see the light of day because of some fool who can't see beyond the end of his nose, claiming "sell out!"? No, these stories were written because the authors felt the *need* to write them.
The stories are the perfect opportunity for these very famous authors to spin more tales; tales that otherwise would go unwritten and unpublished, were it not for the mythopoeic idea to collect the smaller stories of these folks into one (er... three...) volumes.
The standout novella in this collection is Tad Williams' "The Burning Man", the story of a young girl with a mad stepfather, living in a haunted castle... the SAME castle that young Seoman lives in, years later, in Williams' beloved "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" epic. This story is not to be missed! The soulful writing, punctuated by Williams' creative storytelling, make this story the very best in the collection, and well worth the read.
Robert Jordan's tale, "New Spring", is the story of Moiraine Sedai and Lan the Warder, years before Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series begins. While of interest only to those who have read Jordan's continuing series, the story is nonetheless well-written.
Robert Silverberg writes "The Seventh Shrine", a tale of Majipoor, as well as the introduction. Terry Pratchett writes a new "Discworld" novella, and Ursula Le Guin's tale, Dragonfly, is another story from her "Earthsea" series.
Altogether, this is a collection worth reading, and saving; let's hope the authors will consider compiling a new collection in the future, ignoring those who disparagingly call them 'sell-outs'...