The “Sword and Sorceress” anthologies have been around for a long time. One is published every year, telling stories of strong women characters that use swords or magic in their lives. _Sword and Sorceress XX_ edited by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley has many entertaining stories for readers. Most of the stories in this anthology follow the theme of finding one’s true path or self in life. Stories range from serious to humorous.
Humor is the main component of “Too in the Morning” by George Barr. Zanita is a sorceress that puts too much effort unwittingly into spells with disastrous results. Her teacher tells her she cannot be a sorceress, so she becomes the queen of the kingdom and is loved by the people. Her talent becomes useful when the kingdom is attacked by an enemy. Mr. Barr gives the story life through strong descriptions that bring the humor out.
Cynthia the witch of Syracuse returns in the Historical Fantasy “Blood Will Tell” by Dorothy J. Heydt. Set in the early days of Rome when Carthag e was threatening it, Cynthia comes back to a city to ask for a blessing from her dead husband before remarrying. A fisherman asks her for a spell to warn him of the enemy ships. The author tells an intriguing story through interesting characters and lively descriptions of the historical period.
Another interesting Historical Fantasy takes place in ancient Greece. Greek mythology blends with vivid story telling in “The Mask of Medusa’s Daughter” by Kathryn J. Brown. Calli, Medusa’s daughter, must wear a mask to keep from turning living beings into stone. She is trying to free her friend Andras, a man made of bronze, from a greedy king who keeps Andras in his garden. The king sends Calli to steal a secret from a goddess’s temple. This is a good story told in a vivid style by the author.
“Legacy” by Lisa Deason is the story of Serenity trying to live up to her mother Merriment’s reputation. Serenity comes from a proud line of women warriors. She has trouble wielding the sword Legacy, only wanting her mother’s @ approval. Her story weaves around the plot of escorting a princess home and preventing an assassination of the young princess. Ms. Deason tells an entertaining story with a nice theme in a steadfast way.
Coming into one’s magical power is a standard theme of Fantasy. It is the theme of “Late Blooming” by Margaret L. Carter. Miri is the daughter of a family of powerful mages, but has no significant talent of her own. She must save her aunt from a rival mage when he attacks her home, discovering her true power in the process. This is a fast paced story with an interesti ”ng ending.
One story with a flavor of the desert is “The Challenge” by Richard Calantropio. Safiyah is the adopted daughter of the queen in a matriarchal desert society. Her mother accepts a challenge to kill a mythical beast to stop a plague killing their people, but Safiyah believes it is a trap. She is scorned by the second in command for having a limp and must save her mother by using her wits. The author provides an interesting story of adventure that readers will enjoy.
Published once a year for twenty years is a strong recommendation for a continuing anthology. _Sword and Sorceress XX_ edited by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley is another entertaining addition of the series full of stories of interesting women characters. Readers will find stories with humor and adventure. There is something to entertain readers of every taste.