- File Size: 941 KB
- Print Length: 440 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Beale-Williams Enterprise (December 21, 2011)
- Publication Date: December 21, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006P2QX3U
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,536 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
A Stark And Wormy Knight (Shadowmarch) Kindle Edition
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"And Ministers of Grace" -- (Originally published in 2010 in the Warriors anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) Lamentation Kane is an enhanced human who thinks he's the hand of God. His current mission is to travel to Archimedes, a world that rejects religion, to kill their leader while she's giving a speech. Tad Williams explains in his introduction that he's been thinking about writing an epic in which Lamentation Kane will be a main character. Kane is an intriguing invention, but not very likable in this story. However, the ending suggests that he may be a better hero in the future, so I'll be keeping my eyes out for more Lamentation Kane stories.
"A Stark and Wormy Knight" -- (From the anthology The Dragon Book, 2009, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois) A mother dragon is telling her son a tale of his great grandfather's encounter with a knight. This is a playful story, full of puns and made up words. It was cute and creative, but I'm glad it was short because those invented words just don't trip off the tongue.
"The Storm Door" -- (First published in The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology, 2010, edited by Christopher Golden) I don't usually like zombie stories, but I did like this scary story about a paranormal investigator who suspects an imminent zombie invasion. Even though I anticipated the surprise ending, I admired Williams' creepy atmosphere.
"The Stranger's Hands" -- (From Wizards: Magical Tales From the Masters of Modern Fantasy, 2007, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois) When the townsfolk discover that a hobo camping in the woods outside town has the ability to grant the desires of the heart, the town begins to thrive... until a famous magician hears about it and comes to stop the nonsense.
"Bad Guy Factory" -- (Original) Tad Williams explains that this story is his idea for a DC Comics series, so it's written as such, with explanations for what's to be shown in the art interspersed between the captions. I'd never read anything like this before (a comic book without the art), so it was interesting for that reason. I thought the premise was cool, too -- a training school for the henchmen of supervillains. Most of the characters were really obnoxious -- cussing and fighting with each other constantly -- but what you can expect from evil minions?
"The Thursday Men" -- (From Hellboy: Oddest Jobs, 2008, edited by Christopher Golden) Hellboy is asked to investigate a strange death at a haunted house on the California coast. I had never read a HELLBOY story before, but if this one is representative, I should read some more.
"The Tenth Muse" -- (First published in 2009 in The New Space Opera 2, edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan) Tad Williams seems to have taken the topic of the anthology The New Space Opera 2 pretty literally because this story is really about a space opera. It's bizarre and entertaining.
"The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee" -- (From Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance, 2009, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) As I've already mentioned, I love this hilarious story about a magician who gets attached to a deodand when his spell misfires. The purpose of the anthology it was written for was to honor Jack Vance by writing in his style in his DYING EARTH world. That's a tall order, but Tad Williams delivers.
"The Terrible Conflagration at The Quiller's Mint" -- (First published online in 2002) This is a mystery set in Tad Williams' SHADOWMARCH world. It's a nice tale which gives some history and context to that epic.
"Black Sunshine" -- (Original) This is a really frightening horror story set both in the present and the past, and written here as a screenplay. On a night back in 1976, four teenagers experimented with drugs and suffered the consequences. They've lived with the horrid memories for 25 years and now they're reliving that terrible night. If you're ever tempted to try acid, read this story first. But not on a stormy night like I did -- it gave me bad dreams, which I suppose is a mark of an effective horror story.
"Ants" -- (From Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary, 2009, edited by Carol Serling) Here's another scary story about a man who really needs to get his kitchen clean. This one is gory, so not my kind of thing at all, yet I was completely absorbed and I appreciated the ironic ending.
As you can see, this is an eclectic mix of stories and you're bound to find some you like here. I already knew that Tad Williams is creative, funny, and has a good sense of irony, but now I've learned that he can also write gory horror stories, clever comics and chilling screenplays. I enjoyed getting to know him better with A Stark and Wormy Knight and I recommend this collection if you'd like to get to know him better, too.
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Here's the blurb:
Tad Williams is an acknowledged master of the multi-volume epic. Through such popular series as Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and Otherland, he has acquired a huge and devoted body of readers who eagerly await each new publication. A Stark and Wormy Knight offers those readers something both special and surprising: a virtuoso demonstration of Williams's mastery of a variety of shorter forms.
The range of tone, theme, style, and content reflected in this generous volume is nothing short of amazing. The title story is a tale within a tale of dragons and knights and is notable for its wit and verbal inventiveness. "The Storm Door" uses The Tibetan Book of the Dead to forge a singular new approach to the traditional zombie story. "The Terrible Conflagration at the Quiller's Mint" offers a brief, independent glimpse into the background of Williams's Shadowmarch series. "Ants" provides an ironic account of what can happen when a marriage goes irrevocably wrong.
Two of the longer entries show Williams working, with great facility, within the fictional creations of other writers. "The Thursday Men" is a hugely entertaining foray into the world of Mike Mignolla's Hellboy comics. The wonderfully titled "The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee" is both a first-rate fantasy and a deeply felt homage to Jack Vance's immortal Dying Earth. Two other pieces offer rare and hard-to-find glimpses into other facets of Williams's talent. "Bad Guy Factory" is the script for a proposed series of DC Comics that never came to fruition. "Black Sunshine" is the immensely readable screenplay for a movie that remains, at least for the moment, unproduced. One can only hope.
These and other stories and novellas comprise a stellar collection that really does contain something for everyone. For longtime Williams readers, and for anyone with a taste for literate imaginative fiction, A Stark and Wormy Knight is a welcome--and indispensable--volume.
The first short story, "And Ministers of Grace," was first published in the Warriors anthology, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I loved it then and I loved it the second time around. The interplanetary confrontation between Archimedes and Covenant, the first a bastion of science and the other a bastion of religion, truly captured my imagination. It's probably the very best short story ever written by the author, and here's to hoping that Williams will one day reveal more about Lamentation Kane and his universe.
"A Stark and Wormy Knight" didn't work for me at all. Williams wanted to explore how dragons felt about the knights trying to slay them. It's told in a weird and humorous and playful style that may or may not appeal to readers.
"The Storm Door" is about zombies and the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. An original and pretty damn good read!
"The Stranger's Hands" was another miss for me. Williams wanted to show how good and evil are not always as clear as we would like to believe, and how personal relationships in fantasy stories are often under-examined. It's a cute wizard tale, but it fails to make an impression the way other stories did.
"Bad Guy Factory" is the first issue of a series Williams proposed to DC Comics at the time he was working on Aquaman. It's based on the premise that all those villains have to get their training and equipment somewhere. It's interesting but short, and the absence of the appendices prevents readers from understanding everything and really getting into it.
"The Thursday Men" was originally written for a Hellboy anthology. It's an entertaining supernatural/ghost story featuring the inimitable Hellboy, called upon to deal with a haunted house. Good stuff!
The space opera short story "The Tenth Muse" is another engrossing read that sadly ends too quickly. I wonder if there was a wordcount limit precluding Williams from fleshing out this one as much as it should have been, for the ending is a bit rushed. A good First Contact tale which could have been excellent.
"The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee is an homage to Jack Vance's Dying Earth. Most of you are aware that I could never get into Vance's signature work. Hence, it's no surprise that that this novella did nothing for me.
"The Terrible Conglagration at the Quiller's Mint" was originally written when the entire Shadowmarch project was still an online serial. Fans of the series will realize that it drops a number of hints regarding the history of the land and its people.
Black Sunshine is a screwed-up screenplay about 70s music and an acid trip that went wrong. It's a cool piece, though you never really know what the hell is going on. But it does make sense in the end. By far the weirdest thing Tad Williams has ever written. . .
"Ants" is a very good Twilight Zone story about a marriage that went down the crapper. The graphic violence was unexpected, but it was necessary for the tale to make sense and end in a surprising way.
In terms of themes, tone, and style, A Stark and Wormy Knight explores the length and breadth of Tad Williams' fertile imagination. Entertaining, imaginative, and fun, this collection should satisfy the author's legions of fans.
Check out Pat's Fantasy Hotlist!