Sunday, April 06, 2008

RotS Reviews VI

An Uneasy Truce in Ulam-Bator- This is an amazing story because it is plainly evident that the authors had great fun writing it. The introduction explains that Allen B. Llyod and William Clunie began this collaborative writing process over some Chinese food at a favorite restaurant and it shows. It’s a very well written story that contains a series of fortunate and not so fortunate events. I can envision them sitting across the table from each other saying, “Then this happens.” “No, wait, then this happens!” “Yeah, yeah, that’s good.” The result is a couple of characters that make the best out of whatever situation they find themselves in. A clever plot coupled with a wry sense of humor which is believable and not campy. An excellent read.

The Mask Oath- Steve Goble has crafted an impressive story about duty, honor, and the things that really matter. This is a powerful tale about the son of a wizard hunting down the demons that his father released. I’m not talking about metaphorical demons like alcoholism or child abuse, I’m talking about real friggin’ demons. You can’t stick the head of anger management issues on a spike outside the city gates can you? Of course not! God bless sword & sorcery. Flying blood, flying body parts! Terrific story.

Valley of Bones- We end the new stories in this anthology with a military tale from Bruce Durham. As a United States Marine I know what it’s like to stand with your comrades and face an onslaught of undead beasts and pagan magicks. Well, that might be stretching the truth just a bit but I know the mind of a military man. The interactions between the soldiers are spot on. The sergeant character is perfectly done. (Really, so much can be revealed in a man by the way he says, “Steady, boys.”) The hero is a typical soldier, doing his job. As always, that job includes acts of unimaginable heroism when the opportunity presents itself. In the span of a few moments you can go from grumbling about the pay and the food to saving the civilized world. All in a days work.

The last story in the book is a classic by Harold Lamb that has likely been reviewed before. So there you have it. That's the anthology. It's awesome. Go buy it.


Anonymous said...

I've been enjoying these reviews and checking back every few days to read what you had to say on Harold Lamb... only to discover that you didn't say anything! I'd love to hear your thoughts. This Lamb story's only ever been reprinted once since it's initial appearance in a pulp in the 1930s, and it's never been reviewed.

Howard Andrew Jones

Scriptorius Rex said...

Yikes. Very well, I will post a review as soon as I can.

Anonymous said...

Jeff: I'm glad you liked "The Mask Oath," and I really appreciate your review of it.

I've enjoyed your observations, and I want to see your thoughts on the Lamb piece, too -- but I'm going to have to read it first. I love Lamb's stuff, but I'm actually reading "Return of the Sword" stories in order (unusual for me, and part of my bid to learn how an anthology is put together.) So I'm going to have to stay away from Scriptorious Rex for a couple of days so I can read Lamb before your review.

Oh ... and I enjoyed reading "The Battle of Raven Kill" very much. Keep writing the good stuff!

-- Steve Goble

Bruce D. said...


You did a great job reviewing the individual stories. Nicely in depth. Excellent reading!

Bruce Durham

Howard von Darkmoor said...

Jeff - from one Devil Dog to another - awesome reviews throughout! Like Howard, I am interested in your thoughts on Lamb's tale.

Steve - thanks for reading them in order. I've always read anthos and collections in order (magazines I jump around in) - I've always figured there was a method to the placement. Dude, you wouldn't believe how much method there was to my placement madness. That took a lot of work, to be honest. And the Library of Congress requires the first 3 titles as part of the application, so I had to determine them long before I even had all the titles in my possession.

You'll have to tell me sometime what you think of the order, since you're analyzing it for the "Infinity Swords." I talked to Nik about it over the weekend, but I've been surprised no one has commented on my placements of a couple of pieces: the nonfic in the middle and the editor's choice third.

Yeah, I know, I'll get a lot of comments now that I've tossed it out there, but I was tired of waiting for 'em. ;)

Jeff - Semper Fi to the max, man!