Friday, February 03, 2012

Review: _A Quest-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic_

Many people have been on a quest some time in their life. It could be for a better job, a house, saving for a dream vacation, etc. The quest is a common theme and part of the Fantasy genre. A Quest-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic edited by Margaret Weis is an anthology of Fantasy stories by various authors revolving around quests. The stories range from humorous to dark renditions of suspense. There are several entertaining stories for readers to enjoy.

A vivid story with a dark quest is “Misericorde” by the late Karl Edward Wagner. Tamaslei hires the legendary assassin Kane to avenge her lover’s death. She buys the four lives of those responsible. Kane proceeds on this nasty quest in a long tale of suspense and death. This is a startling tale filled with vivid images and a twist ending. It is a memorable story about revenge that readers will not forget for a long time.

Humor raises its head in the story “Mirror, Mirror on the Lam” by Tanya Huff. Ciro the thief steals a magic mirror from the most powerful wizard in the world. Magdalene discovers the theft and pursues Ciro to his city. She works with the thief to retrieve the mirror before a demon prince escapes into the human world. A funny story full of amusing incidents and dialogue ensues in this quirky story.

Arthurian Fantasy is represented in two stories. The first is "Chivalry" by Neil Gaiman. It is a story about an elderly woman who finds the Holy Grail in a thrift shop. She places it on her fireplace mantle for decoration until a young knight called Galaad comes to her home to request it. He keeps returning, offering Mrs. Whitaker fabulous things for it. This is a nice story of dreams fulfilled brought to life my Mr. Gaiman's descriptive talent.

The second Grail story is "The Cup and the Cauldron" by Mercedes Lackey. Set in the past, two young girls, one a pagan and one Christian, seek out the Grail. The country suffers from famine, plague and death. Elfrida, the pagan girl, goes on a quest for the cauldron of the Goddess. Leonine lives in a convent. She is called on to have a vision and sent on a quest for the Holy Grail. They meet on their quests and discover a truth about their goal. Ms. Lackey brings the world of Arthurian Britain to life with realistic descriptions of the setting and likable characters that grow.

“The Beast and the Bully” by Orson Scott Card is the story of Bork, a gigantic man who is considered a bully by everyone. He dreams of becoming a knight and marrying the count’s beautiful daughter. After winning many battles, Bork fails to slay the dragon and faces derision until he makes an important decision about his life.

“The Lands Beyond the World” by Michael Moorcock Elric finds himself trapped on an island where he meets the sailor warrior Smiorgan. Together they try to save the woman Vassliss from a determined sorcerer while finding a way back to their world. Mr. Moorcock provides an intriguing story full of suspense and adventure about his troubled incarnation of the Eternal Champion.

Quests are the lifeblood of the Fantasy genre. A Quest-Lovers Treasury of the Fantastic edited by Margaret Weis has several entertaining stories for readers to enjoy. Try the book and go on a quest into Fantasy worlds of humor, darkness or adventure. The journey is worth the reading.

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