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.

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