Friday, September 21, 2007

Review: _Coyote Road_ edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Trickster characters play an important role in the mythologies of many cultures. Native Americans have tales of Coyote and Raven. In NOrse mythology there was Loki. Many others appear in other stories from all over the world. A trickster can be a hero or character that fools people. Stories of tricksters can be found in the anthology Coyote Road: Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Readers will discover many entertaining stories written by several Fantasy authors in this book.

“Wagers of Gold Mountain” by Steve Berman tells the story of a Chinese man who runs afoul of two trickster spirits. Set in San Francisco during the Gold Rush era, Ji Yuan seeks the help of wo spirits to save his brother’s life. They offer to save his brother if he will free their servant from jail. Ji Yuan is in a tough dilemma by not wanting to free a killer on the world. The author tells a god story by blending Asian spirits with American lore.

The Greek trickster god Hermes plays a role in “The Listeners” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Nysa is the youngest slave girl in a household where the women listen by the men’s conversations secretly. Nysa learns of her master planning to give her to his loathsome friend for a night of pleasure. She prays to Hermes to save her from this fate. Ms. Hoffman provides an interesting tale of ancient Greece.

Rachel is a student in a private school. She waits for her friend to return to spend time playing games. Discovering her friend gone, RAchel plays a game with the housekeeper which turns into a dangerous gamble for survival in “Friday Night at St. Cecilia’s” by Ellen Klages. A nicely woven plot by the author makes the story entertaining until the end.

Charles de Lint provides a strong tale with “Crow Roads.” In this story, Annie watches a mysterious young man with long black hair deal with some bullies. Annie comes from a poor section of town but has potential and dreams. She is touched by the magic of a trickster that changes her life. Mr. de Lint’s descriptions brings the story to life.

One of the most vivid and memorable stories is “The Constable of Abal” by Kelly Link. Ozma travels wither her mother Zilla who is a fortune teller seeking something. They see and collect ghosts. The story begins when Zilla murders the constable and Ozma keeps his ghost because she likes him. They flee Abal to end up in Brid where Zilla takes a job as housekeeper to old Lady Fralix. Ozma grows bored in the town not understanding why her mother stays. The story resolves into a satisfying climax.

Coyote Road: Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling is an excellent fantasy anthology. The stories about trickster characters range from humorous to serious, but most are entertaining. A wide range of authors provide interesting stories that readers will enjoy. This books makes a nice addition to the previous ones done on other themes.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ann Marston

There are many good women authors in the Fantasy genre. New writers come along to add their unique voices and stories to the ever growing genre. Ann Marston is one of these voices. She takes elements of Celtic Fantasy and brings to life her Fantasy world of rune blades, magic and adventure. Her books are full of interesting characters, intriguing plots and powerful themes. They span through generations in two trilogies, The Rune Blade and The Sword in Exile. So lets explore the books of this entertaining author.

Ann Marston’s first book is Kingmaker’s Sword. It starts with a young slave boy named Kian escaping his masters. Along the way, he gains possession of a magical sword and meets his uncle Cullin. Ms. Marston weaves a strong tale of adventure with these characters. They live in a world loosely based on Celtic mythology and culture, but with a flavor all her own. She brings the story of Kian to a fulfilling conclusion that leaves you wanting for more.

That comes in the next book of The Western King. This is the story of Kian’s and Kerri’s sons. They must come into their maturity to fight the blood sorcerers of the Maedun. The three sons have to overcome personal troubles to help Celi and decide who gets the sword Kingmaker. Ms. Marston continues creating a strong story that spans generations into the next book.

Broken Blade completes the first trilogy with the grandchildren of Kian. The Maedun sorcerers try to smash the protective magic of Celi. Brynda, daughter of Keylan, must protect the king. A rune blade is shattered in the process. This book ends in an unsettling manner, leaving a lot of things in the air. Characters find their destinies with Ms. Marston’s deft touch, but leaves opening for further books.

The new books form the Sword in Exile trilogy. It begins with Cloudbearer’s Shadow. Years have passed and Celi is under control of the Maedun. The magic is gone from the land. Gareth comes home after years of exile to a ruined kingdom. He must fight evil in his family along with the Somber Riders that patrol the island. Luckily, he has the help of Lowra, a strong warrior woman. This is a dark beginning that will play out in the next two books thanks to the author’s continued intricate plotting.

King of Shadows is the second book. This delves deeper into the battle to free Celae from the Somber Riders. Lowen is a woman warrior waiting for a prince to protect. She waits with her Rune blade for the man she is destined to help come.

Ms. Marston brings the tale of entangled generations and magic to a close with Sword and Shadow. In this book, readers meet twin royal brothers born is secret. Acaren is born to rule and has his beautiful love Eliene to help him. Rowan is born with the power of legendary magic, but must find his soulmate to free it. These four must try to break the spell on the island of Celi that forbids them to return. To do this, the brothers must go on a quest to find two Rune blades on the mountain home of the seven gods and goddesses. The author wraps up this multigenerational story of magic, romance and adventure with memorable characters and vivi descriptions.

Ann Marston is a talented Fantasy author that has added her unique voice to the genre. She writes powerful stories of adventure and magic using elements of Celtic mythology, Irish and Scottish culture. Her books span across generations in telling the tales of Celae and the Rune blades. She creates memorable characters and vivid battle scenes that readers will enjoy. Unless Ms. Marston writes under another pen name, she has not published any books in recent years.