Monday, November 19, 2012

Epic: Legends of Fantasy edited by John Joseph Adams

Posted by Simcha 10:04 AM, under | 3 comments

When Techyon Publications offered to send me a copy of Epic: Legends of Fantasy for review, I jumped at the opportunity. I don't read anthologies very often but I do love a good epic fantasy, and since this collection included stories by many of my favorite authors, I was pretty sure there would be some good stuff here. 

What I didn't realize, though, was that none of the stories in the collection were original. They were either published in earlier anthologies (one from as early as 1961) or were excerpts from the authors' novels.   

I probably should have expected this since all of the authors included in the book are pretty big, but - as I said- I don't often read anthologies and hadn't really given the issue too much thought.  So I was pretty disappointed when I reached the much-anticipated Patrick Rothfuss story only to discover that it was an excerpt from The Wise Man's Fear. Similarly,  Brandon Sanderson's story, which I had also been really looking forward to, turned out to be an excerpt from The Way of Kings.

Luckily the rest of the stories in the book were new to me and my disappointment with the Sanderson and Rothruss stories was quickly forgotten as I got caught up in reading the other stories, which were all quite good. I actually can't think of a single story in the collection that I didn't enjoy, although I did struggle a bit with George R.R. Martin's “The Mystery Knight” (a reprint from his 2012 collection, Warriors, and more of a novella than a short story) which had so many characters that I had a hard time keeping their names straight. I also skipped “While the Gods Laughed” by Michael Moorcock since it involved characters from his Elric of Melinbone series, which I haven't yet read.

The authors in the collection include: Robin Hobb, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tad Williams, Aliette de Bodard, Paolo Bacigalupi, Orson Scott Card, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sandersonm Michael Moorcock, Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliott, Mark Robinette Kowal, N.K. Jemisin, Carrie Vaughn, Juliet Marilliers, George R.R. Martin.

Epic fantasy is not easily defined but Epic: Legends of Fantasy does a good job at offering a nice variety of stories that give you a taste of almost everything the subgenre has to offer. I say almost because the stories here were a lot more sophisticated than the kind of epic fantasy I remember reading as a kid, and which I still think of as "real" epic fantasy; stories of orphans on a journey to save the world from evil with the assistance of a motley collection of travelers. You know, the kind of books that Terry Brooks and David Eddings are known for. It would have been nice to have one such story in here, to represent the classic epic fantasies, but I'm not really complaining since I thought that the stories here were pretty fantastic. 

I particularly appreciated the fact that the stories were all long enough that I really felt that I got to know each world its characters, which made the stories satisfying despite their brevity. While some of the stories wrapped up nicely in the end others had me rushing to contact the author to find out if they were continued somewhere else (in the case of Kate Elliott's “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” the answer, unfortunately, was no). 

At over 600 pages, Epic: Legends of Fantasy will definitely get you your money' worth and the seventeen stories inside will help satisfy your epic fantasy cravings, or possibly leave you wanting more.  

While I think that this is a great book for long-time fans and newbies alike, if you are someone who is very familiar with these authors' works I would suggest that you check to make sure that you haven't already read some of the stories offered here so that you won't be disappointed at paying for stories that you already read. Perhaps it won't make a difference to you and you'll just enjoy having the stories in a single collection, but I thought it's worth mentioning.


Excerpts too, no thanks, if I want to read an anthology then all the stories should be novellas

I haven't read some of those authors in a long time. Might be worth checking it out. I do like anthologies even though I don't often read them.

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