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A Fantasy Medley 3 Hardcover – December 31, 2015
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From the Inside Flap
In each of the first two volumes of the acclaimed A Fantasy Medley seriesboth of which earned starred reviews from Publishers Weeklyeditor Yanni Kuznia brought together stories from a quartet of fantasys most exciting authors. Now Kuznia returns with A Fantasy Medley 3, offering riveting new tales of the fantastic from four more of the fields brightest stars: In Goddess at the Crossroads, Kevin Hearne shares a thrillingly memorable episode from the past of his popular Iron Druid Chronicles hero Atticus OSullivan, revealing how one nights dark encounter with the cult of Hecate served as inspiration for Shakespeares witches in the Scottish play.With Ashes, Laura Bickle revisits Detroit arson investigator and powerful spirit medium Anya Kalinczyk as she, her five-foot-long salamander familiar Sparky, and Hades Charon pursue a destructive fire elemental named the Nain Rouge through the citys festival in his dubious honor. The Death of Aiguillon finds Aliette de Bodard exploring an episode sixty years prior to the start of her latest novel, The House of Shattered Wings, in which the survivors of an ongoing magical conflict in Paris eke out a grim existence, and one womans wish for a better life is granted at a terrible price.And in One Hundred Ablutions, Jacqueline Carey, author of the much-beloved Kushiels Legacy series, tells the tale of Dalaa young woman chosen by her peoples overlords to be an exalted slave among slavesand of the twining in her life of ritual, rebellion, and redemption.
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In the case of Hearne I have to admit, I do not care for his style of writing at all. I find it too glib and messy and the dialogue cheesy. The action never is that grabbing and overall I find it an inexplicable entry into the successful ranks of urban fantasy. So why the five star rating? Because that is exactly what he delivers here. And as an ancillary work, it would unfair and small minded to weigh against an author the delivery of exactly the style I suspect his fans like and look forward to reading. Jim Dresden writes in the same way. As in he has a very particular style. One I happen to really like. But recognize why others may not. So lowering the rating of a book for Hearne doing, well, Hearne is like reviewing a Chinese Restaurant and giving a poor rating because there were no tacos on the menu.
Same with the de Bodard. I find her work something that fascinates and I want to continue but at the same time always feel waiting and wanting for the work to click a bit stronger. Engage a bit more fully. There is something in the style that just seems lacking. Too removed and too oblique in the way the story is told. It verges on style taking a strong lead over substance but never quite overshadows the substance enough for pure dislike to kick in. But again. That is what I think the author's particular style is. If a reader liked House of Shattered Wings, then this entry is just what I think he or she is looking for.
I found the Bickle entry enjoyable if a little vague simply because I was not familiar with the author or her world. It was not enough to make me rush out and buy the works it was associated with. Which I suppose is a failure in many ways since collections like there can serve to attract new readers who buy this for another author. But it was not a bad piece either.
Plus it was offset by Jacqueline Carey's work. This was a wonderfully strong and engrossing read. It was not a setting I have read from her before. Though it might reside in one of her worlds, in many ways this is a stand alone and it stands strong. A deft turn of narrative makes this the strongest of the bunch by far for me. But to be fair, Carey is the one I would buy this for just going by the names on the cover.
I do think Subterranean should put this and the previous medleys available for Kindle purchase. More readers should get the chance to enjoy their favorite authors as well as sample new ones. And in the case of Carey, seek out favorite authors and enjoy something that manages to be new and yet of the familiar quality I associate with said author.
The story – "Goddess at the Crossroad" – was not good. In brief: Atticus tells his apprentice the tale of that time he heard about this Shakespeare bloke and went to England to look him up, and ended up saving his life from witches. I didn't like the tale; I didn't like the way it was told; I didn't like Atticus, Oberon, drunken Shakespeare, or the apprentice whose name I don't remember. I disliked it all so much that I had to go back to my review of Hounded to verify that I actually did like it. And … I loved the dog? Really? Okay. Not this time; without his interjections and interruptions I might feel disposed to rate this higher. Based on this story I would never continue with the series. Two stars for this one.
"Ashes" by Laura Bickle is set in a very different place from The Hallowed Ones, following a pretty unique character ("Detroit arson investigator and powerful spirit medium Anya Kalinczyk" – that's kind of awesome) as she chases down an arsenous elemental before it burns down the city. I liked it. I didn't love it; I was uncomfortable with the main character going about consuming others' souls; but I wouldn't turn down more adventures with Anya and her familiar Sparky. Three and a half stars.
“The Death of Aiguillon” by Aliette de Bodard reminded me of Paula Volsky's [book:Illusion], taking place in the ruins of Paris – of a Paris. It's grim and beautiful, and unpredictable, both gritty and poetic. Impressive. Four and a half stars.
[book:Kushiel's Dart] was not my cup of tea, but I never argued with the skill of the writing – and Jacqueline Carey's hard-edged lyricism was very much evident in “One Hundred Ablutions”. That was impressive. That was shatteringly impressive. A solid five stars.
The gentleman was very much outclassed by the ladies in this collection – but what a weird collection of stories it is. There's no theme, no rhyme nor reason to their being together in one book except the big umbrella of "fantasy". The first two are borderline comedic, with a talking dog and Sparky the salamander and action movie violence – urban fantasy, though the city of the Hearne story was 17th century London; the second two are elegant and dark, with violence more likely to cost a civilization, or a soul – high fantasy. I suppose one could look at it as a sort of technical overview of what the genre can include. It would be more successful at that task if all four entries were of the same level.
I received the collection from Netgalley for review.
The last two stories seek to and somewhat offer redemption to the collection. Aliette de Bodard and Jaqueline Carey offer up two impressively built worlds - especially in comparison to the first two - and both read as if written by actual professional writers. 'The Death of Aquillon' has an interesting premise but does fall short of great by offering only a glimpse into the world. The conflict provided is quickly sketched and simply overcome. I'd have preferred the first two stories cut and this one expanded out. Carey's 'One Hundred Ablutions' was easily my favorite. The world is built effortlessly and Dala, the lead character, wins the concern of the reader easily. I read Kushiel's Dart some time ago, and reading this story reminded me how solid a writer Carey is, if long-winded in those novels.
This is my first, and sad to say, only foray into Yanni Kuznia's Editorial efforts, though I am glad to have read the last two tales. They'd have been better placed in any of the several excellent magazines available now, and would be found among much better company.
Most recent customer reviews
I read this one for Kevin Hearn’s Goddess at the Crossroads
As with all of Kevin’s IDC stories it is so much fun to watch and learn more about...Read more