Warriors by George R.R. Martin

(2010-03-09)

Published by Tor
March 2010
ISBN 978-0-76532-048-3
736 Pages

 

 

These days, George R.R. Martin is primarily (and deservedly) known as the author of the massively popular and acclaimed A Song of Ice and Fire saga.  Long before creating the world of Westeros, he had a long career in the genre as an editor of anthologies and the long running Wild Cards series. One of Martin’s long-time colleagues and friends has probably the best reputation for anthology editing – Gardner Dozois.  The two have gathered an eclectic mix of writers from all genres to tell stories about, you guessed it Warriors.  Settings that evoke Ancient Rome, World War II, Planetary Romances, and a certain land within Seven Kingdoms.

The King of Norway by Cecilia Holland is the first story in the collection and starts it off well. As the title implies, a strong Norse flavor informs the story of warring tribes and conflicting loyalties.

Robin Hobb sets her entry, The Triumph in ancient Roman times, were memory and legacy are the most sought-after goals of warriors. The story is told from multiple perspectives and is a tale of ultimate loyalty in the face of Death.  While the expectation for Hobb could have been to tell a story in one of her popular milieus, the story is original and probably more effective because of it.

The warrior in Tad Williams And Ministers of Grace is not quite typical.  The setting is the future and humanity has spread to the stars.  Faith holds strong sway over the colonies of humanity, and religious conflicts have continued to a driving factor of war and subterfuge.  The story also feels like a small part of a bigger Space Opera novel or saga.  Considering Williams success at Epic Fantasy, Space Opera would seem a natural fit for him.

Dirae by Peter S. Beagle is easily the most haunting tale of the anthology and possibly the most powerful. The warrior here is a both a warrior of retribution and revenge, but Beagle tells the tale with subtlety and grace. 

Seven Years from Home by Naomi Novik sets her story among the stars and is a reminiscence of war.  Like Hobb, she smartly sets the story apart from her popular secondary world of Dragons.

Out of the Dark by David Weber takes place in what is analogous to modern times, with one exception.  The Earth has been invaded and an attempt by the aliens has been made to subjugate and assimilate Earth into its Galactic Empire. The story begins in a somewhat off-putting manner as the galactic empire has an almost futuristic human feel to it. BY story’s end, Weber delivered a terrific ending to a compelling story. This gets my vote as favorite story in the anthology.

Recidivist by Gardner Dozois tells of warriors recovering from a strange apocalypse.  Dozois plays with structure and language in order to affect an intriguing, thought-provoking story.

David Morrell is a versatile storyteller responsible for one of the most iconic warriors of the late 20th Century (John Rambo) as well as one of the most touching holiday stories I’ve every read (The Hundred-Year Christmas). In My Name is Legion by takes place during World War II in Syria with the French Foreign Legion lends their name to the title.

It would be an understatement to say that George R.R. Martin’s The Mystery Knight is the most anticipated story in the anthology.  This story follows Dunk and Egg in the travels across the lands of Westeros – Dunk attempting to win honor and coin and Egg trying to keep his royal lineage hidden. In this ‘episode’, Dunk enters a jousting tournament being held at a wedding and becomes involved in a murder mystery involving a dragon egg.  The story clearly references the Sworn Sword as well as The Hedge Knight, but also works as a solid introduction to those few who haven’t read any of Mr. Martin’s Ice and Fire novels.  Martin’s trademark humor and rich plotting is on full display in the solid capstone to this anthology.

The anthology also includes Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman set in the same universe of his legendary award-winning novel The Forever War as well as Clean Slate by Lawrence Block, Soldierin' by Joe Lansdale, The Eagle and the Rabbit by Steven Saylo, The Custom of the Army by Diana Gabaldon, The Pit by James Rollins. The Girls from Avenger by Carrie Vaughn, Ancient Ways by S.M. Stirling, Ninieslando by Howard Waldrop, Defenders of the Frontier by Robert Silverberg, and The Scroll by David Ball.

Warriors is a strong anthology from a great assemblage of varied authors.  Warriors of all stripes take the stage to show their bravery, dedication, and honor.  Dozois and Martin should be commended for both their ability to pull such strong voices together as well as their ability to be two of those voices

 

Highly Recommended

 

© 2010 Rob H. Bedford

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