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Dangerous Women Hardcover – December 3, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2013: The sci-fi and fantasy genre is known for going big: epic series, massive tomes, epic series comprised of massive tomes. And even here, short stories--21 original tales in total--combine to form a tremendous 800-page genre-crossing collection. Co-editor George R.R. Martin contributes a story set in Westeros, nearly 200 years before A Game of Thrones begins. Likewise, other authors offer glimpses into their signature worlds. Jim Butcher gives the Dresden Files a twist by focusing on his protagonist's assistant. Lev Grossman hones in on a group of girls at the wizarding school that's central to The Magicians. Diana Gabaldon, Brandon Sanderson, Megan Lindholm... A range of fantastic writers, both male and female, offer an equally exciting range of ways to talk about "Dangerous Women"--from an unlikely bounty hunter to a gunslinger, a mother accused of the unthinkable to a young princess on the run. Dangerous Women is perfect for clamoring fans, as well as new readers, who may find these bite-sized stories an undaunting way to get to know new authors. --Robin A. Rothman
Dangerous women of all kinds—warriors, fighter pilots, queens, wizards, PIs, and more—are the subject of this cross-genre anthology, curated by experienced editors Martin and Dozois. Several high-profile authors set stories in the worlds of their best-selling series. Molly, Harry Dresden’s smart-talking, long-suffering apprentice, narrates Jim Butcher’s urban-fantasy detective story “Bombshells.” Lev Grossman’s wry tale follows a young wizard-in-training as her innocent prank against a fellow Brakebills student misfires in “The Girl in the Mirror.” Martin’s prequel story is set in Westeros centuries before A Game of Thrones, while Diana Gabaldon’s follows a young Jaime Fraser before the start of the Outlander series. Other tales range from hard-bitten western (Joe Abercrombie’s “Some Desperado”) to bleak dystopia (Nancy Kress’ “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly”) to historical drama (Sharon Kay Penman’s “A Queen in Exile”). Some tales defy classification, such as Megan Lindholm’s poignant but fierce story of aging and discovering new life in the fringes. With 21 stories of this caliber, readers will be sure to find several favorites. --Krista Hutley
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I have not read any of the other pieces in this collection.
I'll also admit that I can't pay the full asking price of a book and just read a novella, so there was no way I was going to not read the other tales as well. I have to say now that I'm glad I have. Unlike many of the anthologies I've been asked to review over time, this is a collection of top-shelf authors very skilled in their craft. Too many editors compile anthos as a way to get experience for beginning writers. I suppose that's a fine thing, but it's not something I generally enjoy reading. In this case you've got little noshes from lots of grand chefs at the top of their game and it's nothing short of a feast.
Probably the masterstroke of editing genius from Dozois was to make the collection a cross-genre experience. It's nice to go from sci-fi to noir to high fantasy to urban fantasy. The difference in genres makes each story a palette cleanser and a unique and filling experience on its own.
I'd recommend this to fans of great reading, even those who don't generally go for the short-story format. I'd say some of the stories are 5-star, most are 4-star and a few slip under the wire slightly, coming in at 3-star. Even those, however, are good reads. Special mention for the story within a story about the star-crossed lovers--I want a followup to that one, and I want it badly. (I don't have the book in front of me, pardon my lack of a title.)
I am an unabashed fan of "A Song of Ice and Fire", George Martin's long, epic saga. I hope you will excuse me for basing this review on this one particular short story within this large volume. I confess to being a devoted fan. You will find me as a regular contributor to the forums at towerofthehand.com, under the name of Monte Cristo. I also confess to not yet having had the time to read the other undoubtedly excellent stories in the volume. Understandably, I waited for this volume with great anticipation. And Ser George did not disappoint. The short story from "A Song of Ice and Fire" relates the historical events of the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. For those new to the series, House Targaryen is a noble house who has ruled the realm of Westeros for 300 uninterrupted years, right up until Robert's Rebellion. Dance of the Dragons took place approximately 150 years before the main story. I do not wish to spoil the plot for you. And you would not want me to. Just know that this is a worthy addition to the numerous collection of written works pertaining to the story that is playing out in the main books of "A Song of Ice and Fire". If you are fascinated by dragons, you will find great entertainment within plot. Within, we also learn a lot about the dragons and how they were used in battle. Alas, there are no Direwolves in the story, however. The focus is on the conflict between two Targaryen factions competing for the right to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Houses Stark, Frey, and Tully are only mentioned briefly.
This is a highly recommended purchase for fans of the fantasy genre. I cannot wait to read the works of Jim Butcher and Brandon Sanderson, especially. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this collection is that you, the reader, will have a chance to sample the works of many authors in one volume, without the commitment of reading through a 500+ page novel. You can read the short stories, and then decide for yourself whether you want to invest the time to read through a particular author's full-size novel. Think of this as a sampler, just like those boxes of chocolates in which you get a variety to taste. And you know that famous line from the movie about a box of chocolate may hold true for novels. You never know what you're going to get until you actually crack the book open and dig through several chapters. Fortunately, with a sampler such as this, you can at least get a flavor for the writer's style. That way, you are not going into the bookstore and making blind purchases.