books

Jane Lindskold

Books

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994), The Buried Pyramid (2004), Child of a Rainless Year (2005)

Breaking the Wall: Thirteen Orphans (2008), Nine Gates (2009), Five Odd Honors (2010)

Firekeeper Saga: Through Wolf's Eyes (2001), Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart (2002), The Dragon of Despair (2003), Wolf Captured (2004), Wolf Hunting (2006), Wolf's Blood (2007)

Anthologies: Dragon Fantastic (1992), Return to Avalon (1996), Earth, Air, Fire, Water (1999), Twice Upon A Time (1999), Assassin Fantastic (2001), Faerie Tales (2004), Emerald Magic (2004), Maiden, Matron, Crone (2005), In the Shadow of Evil (2005), Children of Magic (2006)

 

 

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994)

brother-to-dragonsBrother to Dragons, Companion to Owls is an urban fantasy set in the future, with bits that remind me of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Sarah lives in the Home--an asylum for the insane. Her past--and even her last name--are unknown. She was initially diagnosed as autistic and mute, however, after years in the home, it is eventually discovered that she can communicate by repeating verse, such as lines from Shakespeare or the Bible, that have been read to her. Although this is at best a cumbersome method, it allows her in some small manner to communicate with those around her.

Unfortunately for her, budget cutbacks are forcing her and others from the home--diagnosed as socially functional, whether they really are or not. Sent out to survive on her own, she meets up with a member of the Wolf Clan, who take her in.

I was browsing when I picked this up because the title looked interesting. I read the back, wasn't too impressed, and was going to put it back on the shelf when something possessed me to read the first page.

"Morning falls on the just and the unjust," I observe, and the nurse smiles politely and continues brushing my hair. Betwixt laughs from where I clutch him in my hands, Between, snores. He is not a morning dragon. "Turn us over Sarah," Betwixt coaxes, and I do this carefully, balancing the four stubby legs in my pant leg just above the knee. Betwixt growls approvingly, "That's a good girl. Now, be a love and scratch in front of my left horn, right above the eye ridge." I do this, studying my friend as I do. Betwixt and Between are a two-headed dragon. They are small as dragons go, standing only ten inches long from barrel chest to tail tip. They also have blue scales, red eyes, and faintly smell of strawberries.

The I turned and read the next page, and was hooked. In fact, I stayed up past my bedtime last night so I could finish reading the book.

Because Sarah has been sheltered her entire life, and is unable to read, she knows nothing of the world outside. I think what I liked most about her was that many of the new discoveries she makes are wondrous for her. Things that those around her would take for granted, she enjoys. Not that she doesn't have her share of fears, and not that her past doesn't have its share of unhappiness, but she seems to take joy in the world around her--not as part of her illness, but as part of her nature. Even the bad things that happen to her don't seem to loom large in her mind, but seem to be seen as things that happened, and then brushed aside.

Although the world is strange and complex, because Sarah has grown up completely isolated, she must discover the world as we do, and it is only slowly that we come to discover that her world is quite different from our own. It's a very subtle thing, and very well done.

What I found interesting was Sarah's view of the world. When bad things happen to her, she takes them in stride, seeming to see them as simply what happens to her. She adjusts and goes on. What is interesting is that this seems to be not an inborn trait, but a response to spending her entire life institutionalized--it was an interesting view, and I felt it was well done.

It was also a relatively short book, which I enjoyed--I appreciate authors who are able to tell a compelling story in under 300 pages, as opposed to three 700 page books.

If you're looking for something different to read, then you might want to check out Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls. It's a relatively quick read, but an enjoyable one.
Rating: 8/10

Re-Read: June 2016

This is an unusual book, part fantasy, part science fiction. I generally dislike SF, but the fantasy elements are a bit heavier, and the story is mostly about Sarah–much of the technology takes place in the background until the end of the story.

Budget cutbacks have forced Sarah from the asylum where she spent the last several years. As a young child she was initially believed to be non-verbal, but she later learned to repeat literary quotations that have a bearing or relation to what she wants to say. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than she had.

Her only companions as she is released into the world are her two-headed dragon, Betwixt and Between. It is their warnings and assistance that allow her to maintain a semblance of balance in the strange, never-before-seen world.

She is taken in by Head Wolf–into a group of street folk who have their own hidden home, structure, and safety. But the company isn’t necessarily much different from what she had at the asylum.

His black eyes meet mine and something like lightning flashes through me. I have seen such eyes time and again in the Home. Always the clear, piercing gaze was dulled sooner or later by drugs. The Head Wolf is mad— utterly and completely mad, but it is a glorious madness.

And this home isn’t necessarily going to save her from her own madness.

Memories without words are rising up and I know if I do not carefully handle them, I will be drowned.

What’s particularly interesting is that this story has many of the elements found in Firefly. It was written before the TV show, and I doubt that Joss Whedon stole his ideas for River from here, but it might give you an idea as to whether you’d like this story or not.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Orb Books

The Buried Pyramid (2004)

I spent the first two thirds of this book mildly wondering why it was classified as a fantasy. Then the fantasy kicked in, but I’d given up caring whether it was fantasy or historical fiction long before. I just wanted to know what happened.

Jenny Benet has been orphaned, and so is being set across the ocean where her uncle–whom she has never met-is to become her new guardian. unbeknownst to Jenny, Neville Hawthorne has been planning a return to Egypt, where on several occasions he was threatened and even harmed for taking an interest in historical sites.

One thing I particularly liked is that Jane Lindskold directly addressed the fact that many of the archaeological sites in Egypt (and elsewhere for that matter) were looted by the west, sometimes in the name of history, but often in the name of making money. Even today many of these relics still remain outside of Egypt.

The other thing I particularly liked was the fact that the characters were not black and white but were instead shades of gray. I have found that I am becoming more and more annoyed by books where the antagonist is menacingly evil seemingly for the sake of being evil. Life isn’t like that, so it’s nice to read books–even fantasy–that match the realities of human nature as we know it.

The characters ranged from strong and week. I figured out one of the “big secrets” relatively on, but I didn’t see that Jenny or the others would have figured out this secret, so I didn’t mind them being taken by surprise when the secret was revealed, even though I’d known it for the past couple hundred pages. Some of the characters were better developed Stephen, but I really liked Eddie, and wish we’d have been able to see more of his wife.

As I said, the first three quarters of the book was pretty much historical fiction sent primarily in Egypt, then the fantasy kicked in with a vengeance, and I have to admit that I thought the fantasy was the weakest part of the story. I’m not sure that the characters would accept the fantastic elements as quickly and as easily as they did, all things considered. It did make the story flow better, and would have been harder to resolve if they hadn’t, but it seemed to me that they were just entirely too accepting of the surreal events happening around them.

It could also be that I felt the fantastic elements would have been easier for the reader to accept if they had been introduced earlier, but this is just a theory.

Regardless of when the fantastic elements were introduced, I still throughly enjoyed the story, and was sorry to see it end. Although some things were expected, other events went in an unexpected direction, which was a pleasant surprise.

If you’re looking for an hisotrical fantasty, then you may want to check out The Buried Pyramid.
Rating: 7/10

Child of a Rainless Year (2005)

Child-of-a-Rainless-YearAlthough I have Jane Lindskold’s series starting with Through a Wolf’s Eyes I’ve never read it, because I simply haven’t been in the mood for a long series. However, I picked up and read Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls which I thought was absolutely marvelous. So I picked up Child of a Rainless Year which also looked interesting.

Mira is the only daughter of Colette Bogatyr. They live in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Colette is very much the town eccentric, although in a seemingly harmless way: She dresses in a style more fitting to a previous century. Mira also has an unusual childhood, dressed in a style similar to her mother, and not starting school until quite late, where she discovers that her upbringing is quite different to that of the other girls in her class. Then her mother disappears and her life changes completely.

I loved almost everything about this book, from the easy pace, to the mystery of Mira’s life and the disappearance of her mother, to the different characters that surround Mira. Essentially, I found the book to be deeply satisfying on almost all levels.

Mira is fascinating for many reasons. She’s a single, fifty-something woman who is described as just that: aged and carrying a little extra weight. She sounds exactly like a middle-aged woman. This was a delightful change to see such an normal looking character in fantasy. Normally in fantasy, all women are thin and gorgeous and under the age of 40. I love reading about characters who seem like someone you’d know. It’s a nice change of pace from thinking that the magic in a fantasy comes from how a woman manages to stay thin and beautiful despite her lifestyle. (Not that I dislike those kinds of books, it’s just that I found Mira to be a very welcome change.)

There were a few weaknesses–I would have liked to have read more of Aunt May’s journals, and how reading those journals affected Mira. I also had some difficulty with the explanation of magic–I simply wasn’t sure how the magic explained achieved the results achieved.

But for the most part I loved the novel and the character and the story. I found the ending to be very satisfying, and as usual, I love an author who can write a complete story in a single book.

If you like Charles de Lint or Sharon Shinn, then you will definitely want to check out Child of a Rainless Year. It’s a little different from much of what you find of the fantasy shelves, but very satisfying and enjoyable.
Rating: 8.5/10

Re-Read: May 2015

I recently picked this up as an ebook, when I found it on sale. I’d read it before and thoroughly enjoyed it, so was pleased to be able to get it electronically.

This is urban fantasy, which means it does not have any supernatural creatures. It has magic, but not of the action/adventure type.

Mira, the main character, is for much of the story a middle-aged woman, who was adopted as a child by a mid-Western couple after her mother disappeared. The first three chapters are Mira’s past, and the events that lead her to learn of her full inheritance.

Mira is not an adventuress or a great beauty.

As I walked back to the House I felt thoroughly sad that I was now so old and so unattractive that I could be found alone in a man’s house early in the morning and not even raise an eyebrow.

But she is thoroughly likable, and very interesting.

I’d forgotten the little bits, scattered throughout the story. Such as Domingo explaining the importance of Mary to Catholics.

“Our Lady of the Sorrows of Las Vegas?”

“Yes. The Virgin Mary has many mysteries. They are celebrated in the rosary. It is as ‘Our Lady of Sorrows,’ though, that most Catholics love her best, because her sorrows mean she will understand our own.”

That is quite possibly the best summation of the importance of Mary to lay Catholics I’ve come across.

People are more patient with strangeness when the odd person is either very rich or very poor.

That’s another blunt truth right there.

Is this book for everyone? Probably not. As I said, there is no action, and there are no supernatural creatures, and then main character is a middle aged woman, but I found this story so thoroughly enjoyable, I really recommend that you try it.
Rating: 9/10

Re-Read: October 2017

Mira Fenn was nine when her mother disappeared, and she was sent away to Ohio to live with foster parents. The further she goes from her time in Las Vegas New Mexico, the stranger her early childhood seems.

Especially her mother.

I watched, mesmerized, as Mother transformed herself from a pale ghost into the beauty who still commanded legions of admirers. Fear throbbed tight and hard within my chest. No longer did I want to be discovered, for I knew I had stumbled on a mystery greater and more terrible than that of Bluebeard’s murdered wives. I had seen the secret magic of color, and how color made lies truth and truth lies.

It isn’t until her 50s, until the couple her raised her–whom she thinks of as her true parents–dies in an accident that she truly decides to look into her past, and what happened to her mother.

Mother noticed only rarely, and then in such a personal fashion that the one so noticed would cringe, wishing to have that egotism turned elsewhere, anywhere else, rather than suffer the wails mourning the wrong done to “my”—“ my child,” “my efforts,” “my pain,” “my sacrifice,” “my …” Truly, for her, nothing existed outside of that curtaining veil of self.

Some of my favorite bits of this story are when she finally returns to her childhood home, to find it different, but also as she remembered it.

The lock turned with a minimal amount of stiffness, and I pushed open the door, automatically reaching up for the light switch. I didn’t find it, not until I adjusted and slid my hand down.

This is not an adventure story, but rather a look into the past and into what makes us different from our parents. We are more than the product of our genes, more than the product of those who raised us.

We are even more than we think ourselves.

Sometimes we need beauty and grandeur to inspire us to be the best we can be— to remind us of what humans are capable of when they turn their minds to something beyond the purely practical. We have the capacity for art, for beauty. I think we should use it.”

As I said, this is not an adventure but an unfolding. It’s also lovely and one of my favorite books by Jane Lindskold–so much of this story has taken up residence in my brain, and popped up at unexpected times. Which is what, to me, makes a good story.
Rating: 9/10

Publisher: Tor Books

 

Firekeeper Saga


Breaking the Wall

 

Thirteen Orphans (2008)

I really like Jane Lindskold’s writing.

Brenda Morris thinks she is simply taking a vacation with her father, but she quickly learns the trip is much more–that her father took her to California to introduce her to her magical heritage. Unfortunately, this simple trip turns dark when the man they discover the man they have come to visit has been attacked.

In their search for the attacker Brenda meets others who share her heritage–the heritage of the Thirteen Orphans. She also learns to use the powers that seem to be her birthright, even if she hasn’t come into her powers just yet.

In the course of that education the story weaves together ancient Chinese history, Mah-Jong, and a debate upon the treatment of one’s enemies, as well as a search for their attackers and the reason for their attack.

My only disappointment with this book is that it is clearly the first book of a series. The story arc of the book is completed, but as the book ends there is clearly more to come.

I hate waiting.

If you like urban fantasy, then I highly recommend Thirteen Orphans. The magical and and mundane worlds fit together easily, and the magical world she creates is a fascinating one–especially the story of the creation of the magical realm.
Rating: 8/10


 

Anthologies

 

Dragon Fantastic (1992) edited by Martin H. Greenberg

Lethal Perspective – Alan Dean Foster
The Champion of Dragons – Mickey Zucker Reichert
Phobiac – Lawrence Schimel
Home Security – Karen Haber
The Stolen Dragon – Kimberly Gunderson
Cold Stone Barrow – Elizabeth Forrest
Fluff the Tragic Dragon – Laura Resnick
The Hidden Dragon – Barbara Delaplace
Take Me Out to the Ballgame – Esther M. Friesner
The Dragon’s Skin – Ruth Berman
Shing Li-Ung – Tanya Huff
Concerto Accademico – Barry N. Malzberg
Dragon’s Destiny – Josepha Sherman
Between Tomatoes and Snapdragons – Jane Lindskold
The Trials and Tribulations of Myron Blumberg, Dragon - Mike Resnick
Straw Into Gold, Part II – Mark A. Kreighbaum & Dennis L. McKiernan

Published by Daw

 

Earth, Air, Fire, Water (1999) edited by Margaret Weis

Burning Bright - Tanya Huff
The Fire of a Found Heart - Linda P. Baker
The Forge of Creation - Carrie Channell
How Golf Shaped Scotland - Bruce Holland Rogers
The Giant's Love - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Family Secrets - Robyn McGrew
Dvergertal (Intercourse with a Dwarf) - Nancy Varian Berberick
An Elemental Conversation - Donald J. Bingle
Water Baby - Michelle West
Only As Safe - Mark Garland and Lawrence Schimel  
Out of Hot Water - Jane Lindskold
Strange Creatures - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Sons of Thunder - Edward Carmien


Twice Upon A Time (1999) edited by Denise Little

Fairy tales seen from another perspective--the wife of the giant from the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. The hunter in the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. The Wolf who appears in multiple tales.

This book is hit and miss. Some of the stories are excellent, others are so-so. The idea of retold fairy tales is an excellent one, unfortunately not all the stories in this collection were able to pull it off as well as it should be done.

(What I found interesting is that although no single story was a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, they still managed to show up in several different tales.)

Spinning a Yarn - Jody Lynn Nye
How I Came To Marry a Herpetologist - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Puck in Boots, the True Story - Connie Hirsch
Case #285B - Ester M. Friesner
Beanstalk Incident - Jane Lindskold
Gilly the Goose Girl - Nancy Springer
Fifi's Tale - Alan Rodgers
Thy Golden Stair - Richard Parks
True Love (Or the Many Brides of Prince Charming) - Todd Fahnestock And Giles Custer
Savior - John Helfers
Wolf at the Door - Lupita Shepard
Castle and Jack - Tim Waggoner
Baron Boscov's Bastard - Jacey Bedford
Emperor's New (And Improved) Clothes - Leslie What
One Fairy Tale, Hard-Boiled - P. Andrew Miller
Feeding Frenzy or the Further Adventures of The Frog Prince - Josepha Sherman
A Leg Up or the Constant Tin Soldier (Gonzo Version) - Gary A. Braunbeck
Mrs. Myrtle Montegrande vs. the Vegetable Stalker/Slayer - Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

...

Jane Lindskold's "The Beanstalk Incident" was also a story I really liked. It relates the criminal suit against Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk) by the wife of the Giant. This tale also looks at the story from what happened after the story ended--in this case looking at the moral character of Jack, who really doesn't come off all that well in the original story.

...

Of the rest of the tales, some were good, some less so. I'd pick it up if I saw it used, but I don't think it's worth the $6.99 cover price.
Rating: 5/10

 

 

Anthologies

 

Return to Avalon (1996) edited by Jennifer Roberson

To Light Such A Candle - eluki bes shahar
The Grail of Heart's Desire - Judith Tarr
Lady of Avalon - Diana L. Paxson
With God to Guard Her - Kate Elliot
Sing To Me Of Love and Shadows - Deborah Wheeler
The Wellspring - Katherine Kerr
Knives - Dave Smeds
A Refuge of Firedrakes - Susan Shwartz
The Hag - Lawrence Schimel
Salve, Regina - Melanie Rawn
Trees of Avalon - Elisabeth Waters
Sparrow - Esther Friesner
The Spell Between Worlds - Karen Haber
The Stone Mother's Curse - Dave Wolverton
Iontioren's Tale - Paul Edwin Zimmer
Winter Tales - Adrienne Martine-Barnes
Dark Lady - Jane M. Linskold
The Lily Maid of Astoloat - Laura Resnick
Guinevere's Truth - Jennifer Roberson

Published by DAW

Assassin Fantastic (2001) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Alexander Potter

I know that Martin Greenberg puts together good anthologies, however there’s something about the “Fantastic” that gets tacked onto the end of each anthology theme title that puts me off for some reason. However, I’ve always been fond of Assassin characters, so I picked up the book.

Death Rites by Tanya Huff
Green Stones by Stephen Leigh
Coin of the Realm by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Svedali Foundlings by Fiona Patton
History and Economics by Anna Oster
Never Say...Uh...Die? by Josepha Sherman
Dying By Inches by Teresa Edgerton
Darkness Comes Together by Mickey Zucker Reichert
Raven's Cut by Lynn Flewelling
Myhr's Adventure in Hell by P.N. Elrod
He by Leyte Jefferson
War of the Roses by Rosemary Edghill
On My Honor by Bernie Arntzen
A Touch of Poison by Jane Lindskold
Echoes by Michelle West

...

Also excellent were Jane Lindskold's "A Touch of Poison" and Michelle West's "Echoes". I particularly liked "A Touch of Poison"

Watching the plump, dark-haired young widow working up to her elbows in break dough, a dusting of flour on her cute, slightly up-turned nose, no one would have guessed that Adalia Backer had sworn to kill a man--a man who trusted her.

Well, maybe I could have done without the cute nose bit, but I really enjoyed this story as well.

All in all it was a good anthology, and I quite enjoyed it. There were lots of original stories, and for the most part even the ones I didn't care for were well-written, making it more a matter of taste than of quality. And I found a couple of new authors to look for as well, which is always a good thing.
Rating: 7/10

Published by DAW

Emerald Magic (2004) edited by Andrew M. Greely

This book first caught my eye because I didn't expect to see Andrew Greeley's name in the fantasy section. Then I looked at the list of authors who wrote in this anthology: Charles de Lint, Diane Duane, Elizabeth Haydon, Morgan Llywelyn, Judith Tarr, Peter Tremayne, Jane Yolen. Even one of those names would have been enough inducement for me to pick up the book--but all those? And more!

Irish mythology, folktales, and fantasy. What more could I want?

Every story I read was excellent, although I did skip L.E. Modesitt Jr's science fiction story (I am rarely in the mood for science fiction.)

Herself - Diane Duane
Speir-Bhan - Tanith Lee
Troubles - Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
The Hermit and the Sidhe - Judith Tarr
The Merrow - Elizabeth Haydon
The Butter Spirit's Tithe - Charles de Lint
Banshee - Ray Bardbury
Peace in Heaven - Andrew Greeley
The Lady in Grey - Jane Lindskold
A Drop of Something Special in the Blood - Fred Saberhagen
For the Blood Is the Life - Peter Tremayne
Long the Clouds Are Over Me Tonight - Cecilia Dart-Thornton
The Swan Pilot - L.E. Modesitt, Jr
The Isle of Women - Jacqueline Carey
The Cat with No Name - Morgan Llywelyn

I probably would have recognized Charles de Lint's writing without seeing his name on the story. The Butter Spirit's Tithe is set in Newford (another giveaway that this is a de Lint story). Conn O'Neil has accidentally angered a butter spirit, and has to figure out how to remedy the situation, especially when the butter spirit claims that Conn will be his tithe to the devil.

I loved Elizabeth Haydon's The Merrow. It's the story of a mermaid marriage to a human, and even talks of the old tales where a sailor or fisherman hides a mermaid's item of power to keep the mermaid in her human form--and keep her as his wife. The tale is set during the Irish potato blight, as one town is trying to survive and concludes that traveling to America is the only way they'll survive.

The Hermit and the Sidhe by Judith Tarr was wonderful. Catholicism and faerie run through many Irish folktales and stories, and this tale brings the two together and into conflict.

I was quite surprised by Peter Tremayne's story For the Blood is the Life. I love his mysteries, and would never have guessed that this story--set in Modern Ireland--was one of his. On a similar vein to Peter Tremayne's story was Fred Saberhagen's A Drop of Something Special in the Blood.

Cecilia Dart-Thornton's Long the Clouds Are Over Me Tonight was a retelling of another familiar story from the Fionn mac Cumhail tales, and one I've read in other folktales. You know how things are going to turn out, yet you keep hoping things will be different this time. In this tale things were different, though in the way I'd expected.

This is an anthology that I will come back and read again, so if you're wondering whether you should make the purchase, my recommendation if definitely YES!
Rating: 8/10

Faerie Tales (2004) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Russell Davis

Introduction (Faerie Tales) - Russell Davis
Sweet Forget-Me-Not - Charles de Lint
Yellow Tide Foam - Sarah A. Hoyt
The September People - Tim Waggoner
Judgment -  Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Changeling - John Helfers
He Said, Sidhe Said -  Tanya Huff
A Very Special Relativity -  Jim Fiscus
Witches'- Broom, Apple Soon - Jane Lindskold
Wyvern -  Wen Spencer
A Piece of Flesh - Adam Stemple
The Filial Fiddler - Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
The Stolen Child - Michelle West

Published by Daw


Maiden, Matron, Crone (2005) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

I try to pick up fantasy anthologies when I see them, since chances are they won’t be there the next time I look. I picked up Maiden, Matron, Crone while ago, but saved it to read during the school year, because short story collections are much easier to put down than books.

Some of the stories in this collection were good, some were so-so, and a couple were quite excellent. And there weren't any stories that I absolutely hated, which is always a good thing. The best part of this collection, however, is that if focused on female characters, and for the most part strong female characters.

A Lingering Scent of Bacon - Brenda Cooper
A Choice of Ending - Tanya Huff
Strikes of the Heart - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Misery and Woe - Jean Rabe
In Sight - Charles de Lint
The Gift - Jody Lynn Nye
Bearing Life - Devon Monk
Advice from a Young Witch to an Old Priestess - Rosemary Edghill
The Three Gems of the Fianna - Fiona Patton
The Things She Handed Down - Russell Davis
Seeking Gold - Jane Lindskold
Opening Her Door - Alexander B. Potter
The Unicorn Hunt - Michelle West

The excellent category started with Nina Kirki Hoffman's story "Strikes of the Heart." From what I have read, Nina Kirki Hoffman has been very good about writing good and unusual stories. It's always good to come across the unexpected, and so far her stories have all been just that. In this story, a young woman discovers that her grandmother's magic is failing and that she is the only one who can take her place and protect the land.

One of the reasons I picked up this anthology was because it contained a Charles de Lint story. "In Sight" is an evening spent with Ruthie Blue, a middle aged Newford folk musician. I suppose that's one of the nice things about books--you can have middle aged women in your stories, without someone telling you to make them younger and more attractive. I'm hoping that he will write more stories about Ruthie Blue, because I found her a very interesting character.

Devon Monk's "Bearing Life" was another story with a middle aged hero, this time, a queen who has lost her children and her husband, and rules alone in a besieged country. I like the way that Queen Thera dealt with her problems, and I liked the story, even though the very end wasn't a surprise.

Also good were Fiona Patton's story "The Three Gems of the Fianna," which read a bit like the Celtic tales I like so much, and Alexander Potter's "Opening Her Door," which was a twist on the tales I typically find in female centered anthologies.

The concluding tale, "The Unicorn Hunt" by Michelle West was very good. I'm pretty sure that I have one or two Michelle West books around here, and I think I'm going to have to find and read them.
Rating: 6/10

Published by DAW

In the Shadow of Evil (2005) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Rosalind M. Greenberg

To Embrace the Serpent – Tim Waggoner
Few of Us – Jean Rabe
The Angel Chamber – Russell Davis
Ineffable – Isaac Stpindel
Flint and Iron – Rick Hautala
Feel – Julie E. Czerneda
Comes Forth – Jane Lindskold
Climb, Said the Crow – Brooks Peck
Red Star Prophecy – Mickey Zucker Reichert
Rekindling the Light – Jody Lyn Nye
Iraqi Heat – Gregory Benford
Slow Poison – Tanya Huff
The Weapon – Michelle West
The Captain of the Dead – Fionna Patton

Published by Daw


Children of Magic (2006) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

As I have mentioned on many previous occasions, I am a huge fan of short stories. Occasionally I have been disappointed, but for the most part the anthologies I have read have good, especially the one edited by Martin H. Greenberg.

The theme of Children of Magic is (as you would guess from the title) children with magic and the ability to change the world around them. The major problem with this review, however, is that I only read a one or two stories at a time, and then left the book on the headboard for a few weeks while I was reading something else (anthologies are good for that). So it actually took me several months to read Children of Magic as it dropped to the bottom of the pile in favor of whatever I was currently reading during the day (or sometimes something more boring, to put me to sleep.)

Mr. Death Goes to Washington - Alan Dead Foster
Nethan's Magic - Jody Lynn Nye
Touching Faith - Alexander B Potter
The Horses of the High Hills - Brenda Cooper
An End to all Things - Karina Sumner-Smith
After School Specials - Tanya Huff
Titan - Sarah A. Hoyt
Shades of Truth - Jana Paniccia
The Winter of Our Discontent - Nancy Holder
The Rustle of Wings - Ruth Stuart
Basic Magic - Jean Rabe
Fever Waking - Jane Lindskold
Starchild Wondersmith - Louise Marley
Far from the Tree - Melissa Lee Shaw
The Weight of Wishes - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
The Trade - Fiona Patton
Shahira - Michelle West

Unsurprisingly (at least to me), my favorite story in the anthology was Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s story “The Weight of Wishes” (in fact, the fact she had a story in this anthology was part of the reason I picked up this book). Will and Beth have two children, one of whom is a magic user and is barely under control. But on Christmas, Lisa’s powers create unexpected gifts for her entire family, that may change not only Lisa’s ability to control her magic, but also the family’s ability to deal with Lisa.

“Touching Faith” by Alexander Potter was another story I liked, especially when the boy decides that his path will require a Southern accent.

Another very good story was Brenda Cooper’s “The Horses of the Wild Hills”. Carly tries to protect her mother–from herself as much as far everyone discovering her drinking, but she also has to protect and care for herself–something an eleven year old girl is not necessarily capable of doing. What I particularly liked was Carly’s discoveries not only about the world, but also about her self and her strengths and weaknesses.

When I started reading Karina Summer Smith’s story “An End to All Things” I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. However, once I got into the story and figured out what was going on (in some ways it was as much science fiction as fantasy, and adjusting to strange technology is sometimes difficult for me) I quite enjoyed it. Although I never did quite understand why she didn’t “register.”

“Titan” by Sarah A. Hoyt was another story I very much enjoyed. It tells how Leonardo da Vinci gained his powers, from the point of view of one of Leonardo’s childhood friends.

I found the rest of the stories adequate, but not anything particularly I’d go out of my way for. Some of that may have been that several stories were about teenagers, and I tend to dislike stories about teenagers unless those characters are very well written. (I remember all to well what it was like to be a teenager, and dislike reliving those feelings.)

So if you like anthologies, you may want to pick up this collection. Or you could wait and see if any of these stories ends up in a “Year’s Best” collection.
Rating: 6/10

Published by DAW

 

 

Jane Lindskold's website