Tamora Pierce and Josepha Sherman
This is a book of short stories edited by Tamora Pierce and Josepha Sherman. It has a nice variety of authors. My usual policy of short stories is that I don’t like them, except for finding new authors whose longer works I might enjoy.
‘The Gift of Rain Mountain’ has a traditional tempter and a traditional ending in my opinion. Although the young warrior thinks he wanted what is best for his community, his efforts leave him lacking. It’s hard to say more about it without giving the story away, but the story itself feels very familiar. Nothing too exciting here in terms of narration or characterisation, although it’s not badly written.
‘The Magestone’ lacks a little in my opinion. I didn’t feel attracted to either character (the boy or the mermaid), and the plot with the mermaid unable to go on land – well it just made me think of Ariel! There was no real threat, it felt like the rival tribe members were too easily dealt with.
‘Eli and the Dybbuk’ is a slightly strange tale. With both elements of fantasy (the dybbuk spirit) and real life (Eli is Jewish) it is a good mix. It has lovely suspense, and a tight storyline. It feels more complete than the first two stories, with a proper lifetime tale. Eli is a well-fleshed out character, and the inclusion of a riddle does it for me!
‘Heartless’ is another well written story. At first it isn’t obvious what is going on with Ada, and then suddenly the reader has a lightbulb moment! What isn’t clear to me is why the bone was enchanted in the first place. It doesn’t seem like the right thing to do at all. Ah well. I can see potential for this concept being extended further. I’m not sure that it really fits in with the theme of young warriors, as the protagonist isn’t a young warrior, she is only dealing with one. The language and rhythm of this one is a little disjointed, but I think it reflects the character of Ada well.
‘Lioness’ is misleading. Those that are familiar with Pierce’s other works will probably be hoping for a short tale about the Lioness. But this short story is by another author, and is very different. Similarly to ‘The Gift of Rain Mountain’, the author draws on history for making her story. It’s enjoyable with the strong female protagonist.
‘Thunderbolt’ is a creative take on Helen of Troy’s capture. Raised Spartan, Helen’s as warlike as the men, and not willing to back down when she is stolen. It’s good to see her standing up for herself for once! A well-executed rewrite of an old legend packed with action.
‘Devil Wind’ has to be one of my favourites. It has just a hint of magic and the wild, and at the same time rings of truth. The author has included true parts of rich Indian history, and it really appeals to me. The ending is a surprise, but it is fitting. There are things that the author could have done more with, but for a short story it is good. It reminds me a little of a Mercedes Lackey novel I read (I think The Wizard of London)
‘The Boy Who Cried ‘Dragon” is a let down. It belongs in a collection of stories for very young readers – just because the dragon and the knight have teenage problems, it doesn’t make the story any more engaging. I wasn’t convinced that this was where the story of ‘The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf” came from either. The style isn’t bad, but the content! Hopeless.
‘Student of Ostriches’ is good. I have to say, I generally didn’t look at the author of each story so that I could give an unbiased opinion of the story on its own merits. I liked this one from the start, and then realised it was the Tamora Pierce offering of the collection! So no wonder I enjoyed it. It’s nice to have some more information about Shang training, although I would have liked more details of how each kick/punch exactly translated from an animal source.
‘Serpent’s Rock’ is initially hard to get into. It reminds me of an Aboriginal story song, and so I’m not very fond of it. I would have liked more details – but of course a short story is very limited. The ending wasn’t as satisfying as I desired either, he still could die and the tale be left untold.
‘Hidden Warriors’ has an interesting concept but I feel that it is poorly executed. I didn’t like the style of this author at all, finding it somewhat confusing. I’m a sucker for a woman dressed as a man, but in this case it couldn’t work for me.
“Emerging Legacy’ is fast paced with a well fleshed out female protagonist. The novel concept of hunting packs in the trees and mountains was an exciting one, as was the unexpected slavers. I didn’t really understand where her clumsiness had come from though. As a young warrior however, she fits the bill. I think I would be willing to seek out more of this author’s work in fact!
‘An Axe for Men’ is an enjoyable read. The style is initially a little stilted, but you start to feel with the characters and it’s good. I found the storyline predictable, but it’s bound to happen with me reading so many books. Take a chance and try it!
‘Acts of Faith’ mixes the Sight with Jewish and Christian faiths. Although I didn’t know that the Sight involves magic too, apparently it does! An interesting take on Ireland’s history for being neutral during the Nazi driven war.
‘Swords That Talk’ reminds me a little of Need in one of Mercedes Lackey’s novels (The Oathbound perhaps?). Except that this story isn’t really about the sword at all. The concept was again a familiar one, nothing too exciting here, but it was relatively well executed.