Friday, January 02, 2015

Book Review: Flights of Fantasy edited by Mercedes Lackey

An anthology is a collection of short stories by different authors on some theme. _Flights of Fantasy_ edited by Mercedes Lackey is an anthology of Fantasy stories about birds of prey. The introduction by Lackey explains some basic facts about these birds that fascinate humans with their power and beauty. Stories range from humorous to serious with some on the dark side. Many are entertaining.

"Tweaked in the Head" by Samuel C. Conway is a humorous story. A scientist enhances the intelligence of a Red-tailed Hawk. The result is a talking hawk with a snide personality. The conversations between the scientist and Red are funny. It has a touching side to it also with the theme of do we have the right to do such things to creatures.

Gaining magic from animal totems is the main theme of the story "Eagle's Eye" by Jody Lynn Nye. Imoh must find his eagle to gain the seer magic of his people or be an outcast. He travels into the wilderness looking for eagles to meet their eyes and find his particular bird. Imoh's adventures are interesting. The story has a good character, adventure and a little humor. It's an enjoyable read.

Those who challenge gods learn a valuable lesson in "Owl Light" by Nancy Asire. The priestess Yslinda must keep faith in her goddess to avoid marrying the priest of a conquering religion and nation. Her patience is tried with the king and other pressures. This story weaves a strong tale with sympathetic characters and a different setting. It is very descriptive.

Adelia is a powerful sorceress. She makes a servant from a young girl and a wren. Not satisfied, she decides to make a new servant from a male slave and a hawk. "Taking Freedom" by S.M. Stirling is a Dark Fantasy about the price of arrogance. Stirling tells a good story in a clear style. Readers will enjoy the ending.

Ravens are intelligent birds and carnivores to a certain extent. They play a major role in "The Tale of Hrafn-bui" by Diana Paxson. This is a tale using elements of Norse mythology. The birds help Hrafn-bui to regain his land. Hrafn-bui grows and changes from his experience with the birds. This story has a dark edge with vivid descriptions of hunting. Paxson's deft touch in creating memorable characters is present throughout the story.

The last story is "Wide Wings" by Mercedes Lackey. It tells the story of one of her secondary characters from her recent novel _Black Swan_. Honoria is the eldest daughter in a royal family. She is interested in riding, hunting and especially falconry. Her sisters can't get married until she is married. Frustrated, her father issues an ultimatum that she either chooses someone to marry or must join a convent. Honoria is determined to find an escape. A goshawk offers her an alternative. This story has good characters and a lot of informative detail on falconry.

Birds of prey fascinate us with their beauty, power and strength. The stories in _Flights of Fantasy_ gives readers a sense of these things and more. This anthology is full of enjoyable stories that readers will find interesting and entertaining. Take flight.

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