Blog Archive

View My Stats
Monday, March 1, 2010

“Warriors” edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Official George R. R. Martin Website
Official Gardner Dozois Wiki
Order “WarriorsHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

EDITOR INFORMATION: George R. R. Martin is an author, screenwriter and editor of fantasy, science fiction and horror, and is best known for the New York Times bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series that begins with “A Game of Thrones”.

Gardner Dozois is an acclaimed science fiction and fantasy editor and novelist who has won fifteen Hugo Awards for his editorial work.

ABOUT WARRIORS: “People have been telling stories about warriors for as long as they have been telling stories. Since Homer first sang the wrath of Achilles and the ancient Sumerians set down their tales of Gilgamesh, warriors, soldiers, and fighters have fascinated us; they are a part of every culture, every literary tradition, every genre. All Quiet on the Western Front, From Here to Eternity, and The Red Badge of Courage have become part of our literary canon, taught in classrooms all around the country and the world. Our contributors make up an all-star lineup of award-winning and bestselling writers, representing a dozen different publishers and as many genres. We asked each of them for the same thing—a story about a warrior. Some chose to write in the genre they’re best known for. Some decided to try something different. You will find warriors of every shape, size, and color in these pages, warriors from every epoch of human history, from yesterday and today and tomorrow, and from worlds that never were. Some of the stories will make you sad, some will make you laugh, and many will keep you on the edge of your seat.” —from George R. R. Martin’s Introduction

Every story in “Warriors” appears here for the first time. Included are a new Dunk & Egg novella from the world of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire, a new tale of Lord John by Diana Gabaldon, an Emberverse story by S.M. Stirling, a Forever Peace story by Joe Haldeman, and an epic tale of humanity at bay by David Weber. Also present are original tales by David Ball, Peter S. Beagle, Lawrence Block, Gardner Dozois, Robin Hobb, Cecelia Holland, Joe R. Lansdale, David Morrell, Naomi Novik, James Rollins, Steven Saylor, Robert Silverberg, Carrie Vaughn, Howard Waldrop, and Tad Williams.

Many of these writers are bestsellers. All of them are storytellers of the highest quality. Together they make a volume of unforgettable reading...

FORMAT/INFO:Warriors” is 736 pages long divided over twenty short stories and an Introduction by George R. R. Martin. Each short story is preceded by biographical information about the author and a short description of their contribution to the anthology. March 16, 2010 marks the North American Hardcover publication of “Warriors” via Tor.

ANALYSIS:

1)The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland. I’ve never read anything by Cecelia Holland before, but the author is described as “one of the world’s most highly acclaimed and respected historical novelists.” Not surprisingly, Ms. Holland’s contribution finds the author doing what she knows best: historical fiction—specifically a tale of bloodthirsty Vikings, reckless vows, and violent sea battles. Unfortunately, I’m not a very big fan of either historical fiction or Vikings—apart from Norse mythology—and found “The King of Norway” boring and unremarkable. In short, a disappointing start to the anthology...

2)Forever Bound” by Joe Haldeman. I haven’t read Forever Peace (1998)—Joe Haldeman’s Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell award-winning science fiction novel—but I believe “Forever Bound” is like a prequel to that book since it features the first-person narrative of Julian Class (the protagonist of Forever Peace), while also covering such concepts as soldierboys (heavily armored robots telepathically operated by ‘mechanics’), cybernetic cranial implants (jacks) and platoon relationships (ten soldiers operating as a single group mind) found in the novel. What I do know for sure though is this: “Forever Bound” is superbly written, thought-provoking, and moving. Definitely one of the better entries in “Warriors”.

3)The Triumph” by Robin Hobb. One of my favorite authors, Robin Hobb’s talents—intimate characterization, elegant prose, convincing world-building—are on full display in “The Triumph”, a tale about the last days of the historical figure Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman general and consul who was said to have died during Carthaginian captivity in 250 BC. Even though historical fiction is not my cup of tea, I was fascinated by Regulus’ story, although I did appreciate the speculative elements added to the mix. A very strong offering by Ms. Hobb...

4)Clean Slate” by Lawrence Block. When I first started reading “Clean Slate”, I thought the editors had made a mistake. After all, what does a woman reconnecting with a past lover after eight years have anything to do with warriors. Pretty soon though, the connection becomes evident in Lawrence Block’s dark and disturbing offering about a woman trying to regain her lost innocence...

5)And Ministers of Grace” by Tad Williams. Some of the ideas in “And Ministers of Grace” are familiar like colonized planets, implants that transmit messages/advertisements directly to a person’s brain, a “nanobiote”-enhanced soldier who reminded me some of Alex Mercer from the Prototype videogame, and religious themes, but as a whole I was blown away by Tad Williams’ futuristic tale of a Covenant Guardian named Lamentation Kane sent on a mission to assassinate the Prime Minister of Archimedes, and the ensuing chaos that follows... Would love to see the short story expanded into a full-length novel or series.

6) Soldierin’” by Joe R. Lansdale. I haven’t read very much of Joe R. Lansdale’s work, but what I have read has been disappointingly hit or miss. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Soldierin’”, but thankfully Joe R. Lansdale’s comical Western about a group of ‘buffalo soldiers’ crossing paths with Apache Indians was easily the best thing I’ve read by the author, and one of the most entertaining stories in the entire anthology...

7) Dirae” by Peter S. Beagle. Preceding each short story is biographical information about the author and a short description of their contribution to “Warriors”. For “Dirae”, the editors wrote the following: “You may find the opening pages of this story a bit confusing, but stick with it, and we promise you that you’ll be rewarded with a compelling study of the price of compassion—and introduced to perhaps the strangest and most unlikely warrior in this whole anthology.” Which pretty much sums up what I thought of Peter S. Beagle’s poetic tale about a mysterious guardian angel...

8) The Custom of the Army” by Diana Gabaldon. “The Custom of the Army” is the second Lord John story that I’ve read after “Lord John and the Succubus” found in the “Legends II” anthology. In this one, Major Lord John Grey—a recurring secondary character from Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander series and the star of his own series—finds an innocent night at an electric eel party turn into a wild and entertaining adventure involving a duel, a marriage proposal, being charged for murder, dealing with infidelity, summoned to a court-martial hearing, and participating in the Siege of Quebec... To be honest, I can’t remember much of “Lord John and the Succubus”, but I enjoyed reading “The Custom of the Army” enough that I wouldn’t mind checking out the author’s Outlander and Lord John novels.

9)Seven Years From Home” by Naomi Novik. Naomi Novik has made a name for herself with the alternate history fantasy series, Temeraire, but in “Seven Years From Home”, the award-winning author delivers an intelligent science fiction tale about a researcher/biographer and the role she plays in a manufactured war between the Melidans and the Esperigans which ends badly. Creatively, “Seven Years From Home” features some nice ideas like living cloth, parasitic wings, the Melidans’ funeral customs and so on, but I thought the narrative voice was dry, and ultimately cared little for the story...

10)The Eagle and the Rabbit” by Steven Saylor. Like “The Triumph”, “The Eagle and the Rabbit” is a historical fiction story featuring Romans and Carthaginians. “The Eagle and the Rabbit” though is set after the destruction of Carthage, with the rest of the Carthaginian population being put to death or enslaved. In particular, this story follows a group of fugitives captured by Roman slave traders and the terrible games they are forced to participate in, specifically the temptatio: a trial that turns free men into slaves... One of the more engrossing entries in the anthology.

11)The Pit” by James Rollins. Another favorite author of mine, James Rollins—also known as James Clemens—delivers a winner in “The Pit”, a visceral and heartwarming tale of the horrors of dogfighting and the power of love, as seen through the eyes of Brutus. It’s kind of like The Call of the Wild/White Fang meets Fight Club...

12)Out of the Dark” by David Weber. I’ve heard nothing but praise for David Weber’s work, but it wasn’t until now that I experienced firsthand why the New York Times bestselling author is so highly regarded. Well-rounded characters—both human and alien, gifted storytelling, realistic military action, cool surprises . . . Weber’s thrilling science fiction tale about the Shongairi—doglike aliens—invading present-day Earth despite the Hegemony Constitution has it all, not to mention being smart and hugely entertaining. Easily one of the highlights of the anthology...

13)The Girls From Avenger” by Carrie Vaughn. I’m most familiar with Carrie Vaughn because of her Kitty Norville urban fantasy series and her contributions to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe, but the author is also a prolific and talented short fiction writer, which is demonstrated in “The Girls From Avenger”: a well-written historical fiction story set in 1943 and starring Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), in particular one pilot and her quest to solve the mystery surrounding her friend’s tragic death...

14)Ancient Ways” by S.M. Stirling. “Ancient Ways” is an Emberverse story set sometime after the Change—a vivdly rendered alternate history, post-apocalyptic milieu where electricity, guns, explosives, internal combustion engines, steam power, et cetera have stopped working. While the world-building in “Ancient Ways” was impressive, the story itself about two unlikely warriors joining forces on an “even more unlikely mission”—in this case saving a princess—was predictable. Still, I enjoyed the action and humor found in S.M. Stirling’s offering, although I believe I would have liked the story even more if I had been more familiar with the Emberverse series...

15) Ninieslando” by Howard Waldrop. “Ninieslando” is one of those stories that starts off in one direction before suddenly veering off onto another. In this case, “Ninieslando” begins as what appears to be more historical fiction, particularly a realistic glimpse at trench warfare during World War I. But then the protagonist discovers a secret society based on the principles of the real life artificial language Esperanto and their plan to start a “New World of brotherhood”, and things start to get weird, but in a good way...

16)Recidivist” by Gardner Dozois. Gardner Dozois may be best known for his work as an award-winning editor, but he is also an award-winning writer and I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read by him, namely “Hunter’s Run”. “Recidivist”, a science fiction tale about a future Earth drastically changed by AIs and one person’s attempt to strike back at the oppressors is a bit on the short side, but is still a creative and welcome addition to the anthology...

17)My Name Is Legion” by David Morrell. From the creator of Rambo comes a compelling tale about the French Foreign Legion set in 1941. “My Name Is Legion” specifically gives readers a taste of legionnaire ideas—“Living by Chance”, “The Legion Is Our Country”, “Honor and Nobility”—and history (the Battle of Camarón, Captain Danjou), and examines what happens when legionnaires are forced to battle against one another...

18)Defenders of the Frontier” by Robert Silverberg. Surveyor is only one of eleven survivors—Captain, Seeker, Sergeant, Weaponsmaster, Armorer, et cetera are some of the others—still stationed at a remote desert fort that once housed ten thousand soldiers. For over two decades these men have performed the duty that they were tasked with, but their Empire seems to have forgotten about them, while the enemy is no more. Having known nothing but their lives as soldiers, with no enemies to fight, and no knowledge of the outside world, what are such men to do? That is the scenario explored in “Defenders of the Frontier”, one of my favorite stories in the anthology thanks to speculative fiction elements (Seeker’s ability, Fisherfolk), Surveyor’s evocative first-person narrative, and Silverberg’s poignant examinations...

19)The Scroll” by David Ball. Never having heard of David Ball, I had no expectations about the author’s contribution and was consequently blown away by “The Scroll”: a bleak, but highly entertaining tale about a French engineer named Baptiste whose life—and the lives of his fellow slaves—hang in the balance during the construction of the city Meknes, based on the whims of historical figure Moulay Ismaïl, sultan of Morocco, and a scroll prophesizing what the engineer will do next... Another favorite of mine.

20)The Mystery Knight” by George R. R. Martin. Being completely honest with myself, the main reason I wanted to read “Warriors” was because of the new Dunk & Egg novella—the third such one after “The Hedge Knight” and “The Sworn Sword”—which takes place in the world of GRRM’s wildly popular A Song of Ice & Fire series. Fittingly, “The Mystery Knight” is saved for last because Dunk & Egg’s latest adventure about jousting, a dragon’s egg, honor, and conspiracy is easily the longest—and in my opinion—best story in the whole anthology...

CONCLUSION: In his Introduction, George R. R. Martin describes “Warriors” as a ‘spinner rack’, which is an apt description for an anthology that includes stories of every ilk from historical fiction, fantasy and sci-fi to a Western, mysteries, “some mainstream”, and “a couple of pieces that I won’t even begin to try and label.” Besides diversity, “Warriors” is also rich in quality with every story in the anthology well-written and deserving of inclusion, even if I enjoyed certain pieces more than others. For me, George R. R. Martin’sThe Mystery Knight” was easily the highlight of the anthology, but there were several other stories that I loved including contributions by Tad Williams, Robert Silverberg, David Weber, Joe Haldeman, James Rollins, David Ball, and Steven Saylor, while there were only a few pieces that I felt were forgettable. Negatively, for all of its variety, the anthology is nevertheless dominated by historical fiction pieces and stories on soldiers and war, and if there is ever a second “Warriors” anthology, I hope the editors will shoot for even greater diversity. Despite this one complaint, “Warriors” lived up to expectations delivering a diverse, entertaining and rewarding reading experience that I will not soon forget...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Robert,

I'm a huge fan of David Ball. I know you are not a fan of historical fiction, but I loved Ironfire (about the siege of Malta) and Empire of Sands (about the Franco-Prussian war and the French Foreign Legion). You might want to give either a try.

Jennifer

The Reader said...

Hi Mr. Robert

This is one anthology which I'm looking out for & the 2 tales which I was most excited about were The Tad Williams & James Rollins ones.

Good to know, they were fantastic & as for the Tad Williams one, TW might one day write a full scale novel about the same universe & the book might or might not be called "Arjuna Rising".

Mihir

Buffalo Soldier 9 said...

Keep telling that history:

Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, "RaPR", a great story of black military history...the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers.

How do you keep a people down? ‘Never' let them 'know' their history.

The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry.

Read the novel, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, 5 stars Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the youtube trailer commercial...and visit the website http://www.rescueatpineridge.com

I hope you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote it from my mini-series movie of the same title, “RaPR” to keep my story alive. Hollywood has had a lot of strikes and doesn't like telling our stories...its been “his-story” of history all along…until now. The movie so far has attached, Bill Duke directing, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with…see imdb.com at; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0925633/

When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; http://www.alphawolfprods.com and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for Wells Fargo in Montana, in the 1890's, “spread the word”.

Peace.

Robert said...

Thanks for the recommendations Jennifer! I'll give the books you suggested a try...

Robert said...

Mihir, the Williams and Rollins stories are two of my favorites in the anthology, although I enjoyed the Dunk & Egg novella the most ;) That would be great though if Tad wrote a full-length novel based on "And Ministers of Grace"...

figure control india said...

I liked your blog

Follow by Email

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Burning Isle” by Will Panzo!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Diabolic” by S.J. Kincaid!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “A Gossamer Lens” by M.R. Mathias!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Lost Gods” by Brom!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Blood Mirror” by Brent Weeks!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Wall of Storms” by Ken Liu!!!
Order HERE