The late author Marion Zimmer Bradley created an anthology Fantasy series that had stories of women magic users and warriors by new and established authors. Now, there is a new addition to the series thanks to the publisher Norilana books. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress XXII edited by Elisabeth Waters contains new entertaining stories of extraordinary women. Many of the stories will catch readers’ interests.
The anthology opens with “Edra’s Arrow” by Esther M. Friesner. Edra is a hunter for her tribe. There is no game to be found and her people are starving. Her sister claims it is Edra’s fault for defying the gods by being a hunter, which is a man’s job. Edra must find the true cause of the trouble to save her people. Ms. Friesner provides a serious story with good characters.
“Pearl of Fire” by Deborah J. Ross tells the story of Rayzel and her harsh dilemma. She receives the Pearl of Fire, usually handed down in her family to men, by mistake. Invulnerable to weapons, she must spend a lonely life in war, fighting many battles. Rayzel must find a way to free herself from such a life. Ms. Ross gives readers a thought provoking story about war and overcoming hardship.
Fantasy author Dave Smeds presents a different story with “Bearing Shadows.” Aerise is a pregnant women living in a community that makes it’s living by wine making. One afternoon people notice her abdomen is glowing with light. This indicates that a Shadow Man, mysterious people that live like ghosts, fathered her baby. She is exiled by her people for life. Aerise goes on a long journey to get her life back. The author explores a difficult issue through interesting situations in the story.
In “Child of the Father” by Alan Morland, Larion must help his lover Anya save her little cousin. The little girl is taken by a corrupt priesthood that rapes young girls. Led by a vicious high priest, the religion controls the country ruthlessly. Larion and his companions try to free the people from the priest with magic and cunning. Ms. Morland delivers a good story of vivid images with a neat twist to the ending.
“Skin and Bones” by Heather Rose Jones takes place in world where clans of shapeshifters that use skins to change exist. Asholi is a skin singer working for a governor of a city. Her employer asks her to seek out a clan of her people to offer them employment. She finds a troubling group of people with a secret. Events escalate when her love interest is kidnapped. Ms. Jones creates a great story of a strange race that has an interesting culture.
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress XXII edited by Elisabeth Waters is another good anthology in a long series. It is a welcome addition for readers. Many of the stories are entertaining, ranging from adventurous to thought provoking. The publisher Norilana Books can be commended for continuing this series for readers who love it. Hopefully they will publish more.