Legends: Stories in Honour of David Gemmell is a Top-Notch Anthology

GEMMELL_COVER_FIN2c1Legends:  Stories in Honour of David Gemmell
Ian Whates, ed.
Newcon Press
trade paper $20.99 US L11.99 UK
ebook $3.99 Kindle

Last year at the David Gemmell Awards, held in conjunction with the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, a tribute anthology was premiered. Obviously, that anthology was Legends.

One of the wonderful things about ereader apps for phones is that you can read when you have a spare minute and do so without the hassle of carrying around one (or more) books. I’ve spent the last few weeks reading and thoroughly enjoying Legends.

One of the nice things about it was that so many of the contributors were unfamiliar to me. I recognized a number of the names but hadn’t read their work before. My TBR list just got a lot longer. The authors represented here are James Barclay, Gaie Sebold, Ian Whates, Storm Constantine, Tanith Lee, Johnathon Green, Joe Abercrombie, Juliet E. McKenna, Anne Nicholls, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jan Siegel, Sandra Unerman, and Stan Nicholls.

While most of the stories in the volume were heroic fantasy or sword and sorcery, there were a few that were more fairy tale in nature. This lent the volume a nice variation to the contents.Rather than give a summary of each tale, I’ll highlight some of my favorites.

James Barclay is the author of a series of books about the Raven, a band of mercenaries. I’ve got the first volume but haven’t read it. That’s about to change because the story here, “Or So Legend Has It”, is how the Raven came to be formed, and it is solid S&S.

With “Return to Arden Falls”, Ian Whates tells the tale of a man who is hired as a guide to show a man the site of a great battle from a few years earlier, a battle he participated in.

Tanith Lee had one of the most moving and layered story in the volume. “A Tower of Arkrondurl” concerns a man who comes to the tower of a sorcerer to make the sorcerer’s ghost an offer he can’t refuse. This may have been the best story in the book.

“All Hail to the Oak” by Anne Nicholls is the story of a chieftain’s daughter who is a hostage in the capital of an empire. At first I was afraid this was going to be a tale of the tribulations of a teenage girl trying to fit in. I was pleasantly surprised at the direction this one went, as deportment lessons turned into a desperate fight for survival.

Adrian Tchaikovsky, like James Barclay, has a series out that I’ve seen but not read. Yet. This story is set in that world and is about a swordwoman seeking to die to escape her grief over the losses she’s suffered from a recent war. Only she may be premature in that death wish.

Stan Nicholls gives us the story of two brothers, one a warrior and the other a pacifist, who have to work together. The dialogue and characterization in this one were top-notch, and I didn’t want this one to end.

Your mileage, of course, may vary, but those were the ones I liked the most. All of the stories here are professional level, and I found all of them enjoyable. This is one of the strongest heroic fantasy anthologies I’ve read in the past year.

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