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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“A Fantasy Medley” edited by Yanni Kuznia (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

ABOUT A FANTASY MEDLEY:A Fantasy Medley” features the superlative storytelling abilities of four diverse authors:

In “Zen and the Art of Vampirism”, Zoe Takano, the only vampire in Toronto, a city filled with supernatural creatures of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld, finds her place in the hierarchy threatened by two interlopers.

Riding the Shore of the River of Death” returns us to the world of Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars. Kareka, daughter of the begh of the Kirshat, hunts to take a man’s head. It is her last opportunity to prove herself as a man or else she will find herself restricted to the role of woman and wife in the clan forever.

C.E. Murphy takes us to frozen Moscow in “From Russia, with Love.” Baba Yaga’s daughter is a barmaid at a dive when Janx and Eliseo Daisani walk in. They discover, as they compete for the girl’s affections, that Baba Yaga has plans for Janx and that her beautiful daughter had merely been the bait.

Robin Hobb revisits her Farseer world in “Words Like Coins.” Mirrifen, a failed hedge-witch’s apprentice who has married to find security finds that threatened by a severe drought and the appearance of a pregnant female pecksie.

FORMAT/INFO: “A Fantasy Medley” is 136 pages long divided over four short stories and is published by
Subterranean Press in two editions: A Fully Clothbound Hardcover limited to 3000 copies and a Numbered Hardcover limited to 200 copies and Signed by the authors and editor. Dust jacket by Kristy Doherty.


1)Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong. “Zen and the Art of Vampirism” is an urban fantasy tale with all of the usual trimmings including a female protagonist, a contemporary setting, supernatural elements, humor, etc. The story is actually pretty interesting and follows a lesbian Japanese vampire who uses wits instead of violence to prevent two other vampires from running her out of town. To be honest, I’m starting to get bored of the whole urban fantasy craze and didn’t expect to enjoy this story very much. Instead though, Ms. Armstrong’s contribution was a pleasant surprise and made me interested in checking out more of the author’s work.

2)Riding the Shore of the River of Death” by Kate Elliott. “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” is set in the world of Kate Elliott’s epic Crown of Stars saga, but generations later, so it’s not necessary for readers to be familiar with the series. However, for those who have read the books, “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” offers some nice treats including the Quman, stone circles, griffin feathers and references to Prince Sanglant, Bulkezu, and Liath. The story itself—which is told in the third-person by Kereka, a begh’s daughter who wishes to live a man’s life—follows Kereka and two other boys on their Quman rite of passage to manhood. During their journey they are captured by a witch. Eventually Prince Vayek, Kereka’s betrothed, comes to their rescue, but Kereka seeks a different kind of liberation… This story was kind of slow for me, but it was nice revisiting the Crown of Stars setting. Plus, as expected, the story was well written and offers a solid glimpse at Kate’s writing abilities including strong characterization and world-building…

3)From Russia, with Love” by C.E. Murphy. “From Russia, with Love” is an Old Races tale, the setting for the author’s Negotiator trilogy, and features a couple of familiar faces from the series in the dragon Janx and the vampire Daisani. The plot concerns the daughter of Baba Yaga—a fearsome witch of Russian folklore—who catches the attention of both Janx & Daisani. Unfortunately, they catch the attention of Baba Yaga… Though falling under the urban fantasy/paranormal romance umbrella, “From Russia, with Love” reads more like a fairy tale and shines with elegant prose and creative magic. Easily the highlight of the anthology…

4)Words Like Coins” by Robin Hobb. “Words Like Coins” returns readers to the author’s popular Realm of the Elderlings setting, but like Kate Elliott’s story, it’s not necessary to be familiar with Robin’s previous work. In fact, readers will be hard-pressed to find anything recognizable from the Farseer/Liveship Traders milieu. Instead, “Words Like Coins” is basically a YA-friendly fable about being typecast and the power of words. Cleverly written with a timeless moral lesson, “Words Like Coins” was my second favorite story in “A Fantasy Medley”…

CONCLUSION: Serving as both a delicious indulgence for those readers already familiar with the authors and an enticing appetizer for those who are not, “A Fantasy Medley” is a successful and diverse glimpse at the magic and wonders that fantasy has to offer. My only complaint with the anthology is that it was so short . . . but as with anything that brings pleasure, I never wanted “A Fantasy Medley” to end…


Kelley Armstrong is the New York Times bestselling author of the Women of the Otherworld urban fantasy series, the Nadia Stafford crime thriller series, and the Darkest Powers YA trilogy which is set in Otherworld. Forthcoming releases include “The Awakening" (Darkest Powers, April 28, 2009) and “Frostbitten” (Otherworld, October 2009).

Kate Elliott is a fantasy/science fiction author best known for the Jaran novels, the Crown of Stars epic fantasy series, and “The Golden Key” collaboration with Melanie Rawn & Jennifer Roberson. Her next release will be “Traitors’ Gate” which is the third novel in her current Crossroads epic fantasy series.

Alaskan-born writer C.E. Murphy is the author of The Negotiator urban fantasy trilogy, the Walker Papers urban fantasy series, and the Inheritors’ Cycle historical fantasy series. She has also written The Strongbox Chronicles romance trilogy under the pen name Cate Dermody. Forthcoming releases include “The Pretender’s Crown” (Inheritors’ Cycle, April 28, 2009).

Robin Hobb is the New York Times bestselling author of the Farseer, Liveship Traders, Tawny Man, and Soldier Son epic fantasy trilogies. She has also written as Megan Lindholm. Her next release will be “Dragon Keeper” (June/July 2009), a standalone novel set in the Rain Wilds.


Mishel (P.S. I Love Books) said...

I was going to get this simply for Armstrong's contribution but it looks like I'll be finding some other really great authors (=

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