Bardic Voices: Halfblood Chronicles (with Andre Norton), Lark and Wren (1992)
The Serpent's Shadow (2001)
By the Sword and her Last Herald Mage Series are some of my favorite high fantasy/adventure books to read and re-read. However, I have been disappointed in some of her more recent books. Her character development, especially in her earlier books, is excellent, but her later books seem to continue the same theme.
The Heralds of Valdemar
The Last Herald Mage
Vows and Honor
Reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress series put me in the mood to read about Tamra and Kethry. The characters remain the same, but the three books are quite different. The first book, The Oathbound stems from Mercedes Lackey's short story sale to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress III, and contains reworked versions of short stories about Tamra and Kethry, and other short tales, reworked into a novel. Oathbreakers is a single tale, and Oathblood is a collection of short stories ranging from the first story published in S&SIII to tales taking place years after the end of Oathbreakers.
Having recently read some of the Tamra and Kethry stories in S&S, I skipped them the books, even though they were slightly different, they were not enough so that I wanted to immediately re-read the story. Given my druthers, I think I prefer the short stories to the novels. Not quite sure why, although I do have a fondness for short stories (which would explain my love for S&S as well as 'Thieves' World')
I really like Tamra and Kethry, though I have to say that I prefer Tamra the fighter to Kethry the mage. Call it personal preference if you like, or perhaps the fact that I find a sword fight is more interesting to read than a mage duel. It could also be due to the fact that Tamra has no romantic interests at all, so you don't have to worry about her getting all mushy and turning a proper adventure into a romance.
What I think is interesting about these stories is the way that she gets around the problem that some fantasy books (and many movies and TV shows) have, of the hero taking grievous wounds and walking away undaunted. yeah, you don't want to spend chapters with your hero convalescing, but it is also unrealistic and ridiculous to have the hero always escaping her adventures unscathed. The sword Need and her healing abilities are a nice way around this, although she does write in the grit and the pain and the injuries.
All in all it was a pleasant couple hours of escape.
Lark and Wren (1992)
I read a LOT of Mercedes Lackey when I was in my 20s. Then, several years ago (and several years after I’d fallen off reading Mercedes Lackey) I all but stopped reading epic/high fantasy. Was there a single reason? Not really. The fact that high fantasy books tended to be in never-ending series full of cliffhangers was part of the reason, but I think something in my tastes changed as well. I just haven’t been able to get into it.
Regardless of the reasons, when I came across the Baen Free Library and saw Lark and Wren, which I had read probably when it came out, I decided to get it another try. I remembered the basics of it, but it had been a long time, so I decided to try it again.
Rune is a bastard child who works in the inn where her mother–claiming to be a widow (a claim no one believed)–found a job soon after Rune was born. The inkeeper’s wife liked Rune, and gave the young girl a fiddle after seeing her many attempts to play the instruments of the wandering minstrels who came to their inn. Unfortunately for Rune, the innkeepers wife dies, and Rune’s mother decides she would like to be the new wife of the innkeeper, so things start to get unpleasant for Rune–whose only dream was to become a musician and eventually a bard.
Things happen, and Rune strikes out in her own to become a bard.
I’d forgotten that this book basically reads like two separate stories: the first half, and the second half. The first half where Rune learns to become a musician, the second half where she has become an accomplished musician, finds true lurve, and another completely different adventure happens.
It’s not that the two halves of the book are bad mind you, it’s just that the story takes a definite change in feel once Rune comes into her own musically. The first part is a coming of age story, the second part is a magical adventure story.
I definitely prefer the first half of the story. Not that the second half is bad per se, it’s just a romance adventure which is OK.
On the other hand, I can hardly complain about having downloaded and read the story for free, can I?
The Serpent's Shadow (2001)
Myra Witherspoon is half-Indian and half-English, and has followed in her father's footsteps to become a doctor. Unfortunately for her, both her race and her gender work against her, in a society where women are still little more than possessions, and India remains a British colony. It is her determination and her magic that allow her to survive--even thrive--in a place so unlike where she grew up. The place she had to escape if she wanted to survivie.
There was so much about this book that I did like, I found it frustrating that overall the book left me with a sense of mild disappointment. I loved the integration of different mythologies and folklore: the mythology of India, the folklore of western Europe. Little bits and pieces were pulled into the story, yet managed to remain a coherent whole, just as Myra, with all her disparate parts, remains a coherent whole.
So, I liked the different bits that were added to the story. I liked the heroine, Myra. I liked the hero, Peter. The dialog was fine, as was, for the most part, the pacing of the story.
However, I hated the villain. Despite the multiple explanations, I never really saw why she did they things she did. She seemed to be acting evil solely for the sake of acting evil. Her motivations for her behaviors were unconvincing, and so I found her entire portion of the story both unbelievable and frustrating.
The same goes for the male "villain" who wasn't so much a villain as an annoyance. He was flat and uninteresting; a spoiled brat who did things because he could, and got away with them because he was rich. He was boring.
So despite the many things I did like about this book, in the end, I didn't particularly enjoy it, because the bad guys annoyed the crap out of me. There were no surprises--everything worked out precisely as I expected it to. All in all, the story just didn't hold my attention or interest.
Diana Tregarde and Andre are investigating a terrible something that is eating the souls of it’s victims.
Satanic, Versus (1990)
As with the previous Diana Tregarde short story I got, it was ultimately disappointing.
Diana and Andre go to a romance convention masquerade and trouble happens.
I think that the root of the story would have been interesting if it hadn’t been wrapped in the romance convention package. That simply felt like an opportunity to bash romance conventions and romance writers rather than an integral part of the story.
Killer Byte (1994)
A really long time ago–a lifetime ago it sometimes feels like–I read the Diana Tregarde books. And was quite disappointed when Mercedes Lackey stopped writing them. But as I didn’t have ready access to MZB’s Fantasy Magazine, I missed all the short stories. So when I ran across several for the Kindle, I decided, “why not?”
Diana’s undead boyfriend spends his nights on bulletin boards, and comes across a situation he finds disturbing. Diana and Andre decided to poke into the situation and (hopefully) save someone from harm.
First things first, this story was written in 1994. And deals with computers. So it is extremely–almost insanely–dated. Dated to the point it was distracting, to be honest.
Putting that aside, the story was OK, but a little obvious (Because it was so dated? Perhaps.) and I found the romantic elements rather cloying. OK. Extremely cloying. But the banter and romantic comparisons were also dated, so that didn’t help.
I’m actually rather glad I didn’t come across these stories previously, because I think I would then have been unlike to read the books, which I do remember enjoying. But I suppose only a reread would tell me if it was my memory or if they were as good as I remembered.
Gwydion And The Dragon - C.J. Cherryh
Misericorde - Karl Edward Wagner
The Barbarian - Poul Anderson
The Silk And The Song - Charles L. Fontenay
Mirror, Mirror On The Lam - Tanya Huff
Chivalry - Neil Gaiman
Firebearer - Lois Tilton
The Bully And The Beast - Orson Scott Card
A Time For Heroes - Richard Parks
The Cup And The Cauldron - Mercedes Lackey
The Lands Beyond The World - Michael Moorcock
Published by Aspect
I love fantasy, and I love mysteries, so I figured that this should be a great short story collection. After all, I’ve read some excellent fantasy mysteries recently, such as those written by Charlaine Harris and Simon R. Green. This collection, however, was a mixed bag. For one thing, it look me about three months to read. I’d zip through a couple of stories, and then get bogged down in a story that took days to read, and then I set it aside for something else that looked more interesting.
The problem with several of the stories seemed to be that the ability to write good fantasy does not mean the ability to write good fantasy, and vice versa.
But there are some excellent stories in this collection.
Piece of Mind - Jennifer Roberson
Special Surprise Guest Appearance by... - Carole Nelson Douglas
Doppelgangster - Laura Resnick
Mixed Marraiges Can Be Murder - Will Graham
The Case of the Headless Corpse - Josepha Sherman
A Death in WOrking - Debra Doyle
Cold Case - Diane Duane
Snake in the Grass - Susan R. Matthews
Double Jeopardy - M.J. Hamilton
Witch Sight - Roberta Gellis
Overrush - Laura Anne Gilman
Captured in Silver - Teresa Edgerton
A Night at the Opera - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
A Tremble in the Air - James D. Macdonald
Murder Entailed - Susan Krinard
Dropping Hints - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Au Purr - Esther M. Friesner
Getting the Chair - Keith R.A. DeCandido
The Necromancer's Apprentice - Lillian Stewart Carl
Grey Eminence - Mercedes Lackey
Grails: Quests of the Dawn (2004) edited by Richard Gilliam and Martin H. Greenberg
The Question Of The Grail by Jane Yolen
The Cup And The Cauldron by Mercedes Lackey
The Which Overfloweth by Andre Norton
Chalice Of Tears, Or I Didn't Want That Damm Grail Anyway by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Feast And The Fisher King by Diana L. Paxon
The Gift Of Gilthaliad by Brad Strickland
Curse Of The Romany by Ilona Ouspenskaya
Dagda by James S. Dorr
The Sailor Who Sailed After The Sun by Gene Wolfe
Water by Lee Hoffman
What You See... by Alan Dean Foster
Storyville, Tennessee by Richard Gilliam
Somewhere In Her Dying Heart by Lisa Lepovetsky
Hell-Bent For Leather by Jeremiah E. Phipps
Atlantis by Orson Scott Card
Invisible Bars by Dean Wesley Smith
That Way Lies Camelot by Janny Wurts
Hitchiking Across An Ancient Sea by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Visions by Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Awful Truth In Arthur's Barrow by Lionel Fenn
Reunion by Brian M. Thomsen
Quest Now by Margo Skinner
Chivalry by Neil Gaiman
Falling To The Edge Of The End Of The World by Bruce D. Arthurs
Greggie's Cup by Rick Wilber
The Grail Legend: An Afterword by Fritz Leiber
Winter Moon (2005)
Winter Moon contains three novellas all centered around the moon: Moontide by Mercedes Lackey, The Heart of the Moon by Tanith Lee, and Banshee Cries by C.E. Murphy. Moontide and Heart of the Moon are traditional fantasies, while Banshee Cries is an urban fantasy set in the modern world where magic--or power--is just out of the sight of most people.
Mercedes Lackey's Moontide tells the story of Moira, whose father sent her away to Countess Venerable to be finished because he had no interest in dealing with her himself. But now she has been recalled to her fathers keep, and so she must determine why she has been called back, and whether her father is involved in treachery.
It's been several years since I've read a Mercedes Lackey book, and somehow I had managed to forget how much I enjoy her writing. What I particularly liked about this story was the way that the keep became a character in the story. The stone building is as integral to the story as Moira. But most important is Moira. Although she has some power, as a female she is very much at the mercy of her father, and must use cunning and wit to circumvent him. Like other books in the Luna line, this is a romance, except that the fantasy is primary and the romance is secondary. And it isn't a kissing story.
The only thing I find it important to mention is that these three stories are quite different. They are a good overview of the scope of the Luna line, but the thing holding this collection of novellas together is the theme of the winter moon. Not a similarity in theme or style.
If you have not read a Luna book before, I would highly recommend Winter Moon. This stories in this book are a good overview of the variety in the Luna line, and although not everyone will enjoy all three stories, there is such a variety in these stories that most readers should find something here to enjoy.
I picked this collection up solely for the Patricia Briggs story, but once I saw some of the other authors, read through the stories that interested me (but skipped the ones that didn’t grab me after a page or two).
“Naughty & Nice” by Kevin J. Anderson
“Close Knit” by Nina Kirki Hoffman
“Astronaut Nick” by Brad R. Torgersen
“The Longest Night” by Mercedes Lackey
“Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebels of Hayberry” by Quincy J. Allen
“Midnight Trains” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“A Christmas Feast” by Jonathan Maberry
“A World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie” by Ken Scholes
“Santa’s Mortuary” by Heather Graham
“Yes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus” by Sam Knight
“Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s” by Mike Resnick
“The Atmosphere for Miracles” by David Boop
“A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas” by Eric James Stone
“Unappreciated Gifts” by Patricia Briggs
“The Longest Night” by Mercedes Lackey was a story I read more than a couple pages of, but just couldn’t get into, so I eventually skipped on.
This is a decent collection with something for everything, even if all the stories don’t appeal to everyone.
Published by WordFire Press