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Sword and sorceress II Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1986
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I have read as many Marion Zimmer Bradley, works over the years as I have been able to lay my hands on. But was a late comer to her anthology series(s). Then to my surprise I found that what she liked in different authors are basically what I like too. So I have been on a quest to ferret out her anthologies. Her wry views on life at the start of each story, are as much of a treat as her books has always been to me. Each Christmas, I go vainly in search of a new novel even though she has been dead since 1999. So I troll the second hand stores and Amazon, in a never ending quest to find her printed gold.
Those of you who have read through the first anthology in the series will note the presence of a number of the same authors, as MZB herself mentions in her foreword. "A Night at the Two Inns" by Phyllis Ann Karr continues the adventures of Frostflower and Thorn-- Karr's gentle sorceress and tough swordswoman duo. Likewise, Diana L. Paxson continues the story of her character Shanna with "Shadow Wood". Other returning authors include Stephen Burns with "The Black Tower", Charles Saunders with "Shimenge's Mask", "Fireweb" by Deborah Wheeler, and "Cold Blows the Wind" by Charles DeLint. Jennifer Roberson also returns with "The Lady and the Tiger" which features, I believe, the first appearance of her now famous Tiger and Del characters.
Warrior women, thieves, craftswomen, sorceresses and assassins all populate these pages. Some stories are straight adventure and epic fantasy such as "The Black Tower" by Stephen Burns and "Shimenge's Mask" by Charles Saunders. Others are biting and surprise the reader with their endings. Try "The Lady and the Tiger" by Jennifer Roberson or "Hunger" by Russ Garrison. Still others are just sincerely funny. Don't miss Elizabeth Thompson's "On First Looking Into Bradley's Guidelines, Or Stories I Don't Want To Read Either" which does a fine job at elaborating the things that Marion Zimmer Bradley didn't want to see submitted for this anthology. The editor was tickled by the poem; I suspect readers will be too.
Beyond the varieties, there are a few tales that defy simple definition, and shine out in this collection. Popular author C. J. Cherryh pens "The Unshadowed Land"; a story that gave the editor goose bumps-not to mention me! The other one I will note is "The Wound in the Moon" by Vera Nazarian, this was the authors first published story and is truly a beautiful, disturbing and thought-provoking piece.
What makes these anthologies stand out, besides the exceptional stories and powerful heroines, is MZB's own introductions to each story and author. Her comments are almost as delightful to read as the stories themselves. For anyone who likes this anthology, I highly recommend you check out the first Sword and Sorceress anthology if you can find it. The good news is there are now nineteen Sword and Sorceress anthologies to read and discover, but I will firmly uphold that the earliest anthologies, particularly the first three, are some of the best.
Happy Reading! shanshad ^_^
This is well worth the price to reorder it! Good fantasy, from when fantasy was actually good.