Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: _Legends II_ edited by Robert Silverberg

A few years ago author Robert Silverberg edited the popular anthology Legends. The book contained longer stories set in Fantasy worlds by authors such as Anne McCaffrey, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan and several others. Now Robert Silverberg is back with the second book Legends II featuring new stories set in more popular Fantasy worlds. Authors from the previous book return with new stories along with new authors and their contributions. Like any book with a variety of stories, they range in interest. There is something entertaining for every reader.

Anne McCaffrey’s Pern is a world mixing dragons and computers. The books come under the sub-genre of Science Fantasy. “ Beyond Between“ is a follow up story to her book Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern. This story tells what happens to two queen riders separated from their dragons and the mysterious dimension of Between. The holder Thalion  is haunted by a strange ghost after Moreta vanished into Between during a plague. Moreta finds herself trapped in a weird area of this dimension, but helped by a dragonrider from the past. She keeps returning to the last place she left from to leave a message. Readers will find this a satisfying, bittersweet conclusion to a tragic story.

Neil Gaiman contributes a new American Gods story to the book with “ Monarch of the Glen.” His character Shadow from the book returns in this story. Shadow is traveling through Scotland when he meets a man in a pub who hires him as a bouncer at a party for a weekend. A strange dream of Vikings on a ship made of fingernails begins to plague him. The party he will work at is held in a strange country house. He discovers a group of paranoid party goers at the house where he is forced into a fight with a huge man. Help comes from some fantastic characters. Mr. Gaiman provides a dark entertaining story for the anthology.

A new story of survival set in one of the Fantasy worlds of Robin Hobb’s appears in “Homecoming.” The story is told by a noble woman called Lady Carrillion. She and her family are exiled along with others to make a home in a new unexplored land. It is a harsh land of marshy ground and jungle. Abandoned without supplies, they must find a place to settle. Carrillion tells the story in a series of journal entries. Readers learn how she slowly gains leadership through her knowledge. When they discover an ancient, buried underground city, survival becomes even more perilous. Ms. Hobbs makes the story suspenseful with vivid, tight descriptions of the action and setting.

George R.R. Martin’s world of Westeros is represented by the story “Sworn Sword,” a sequel to the story from the first anthology. Duncan (Dunk) and Egg return, working for a destitute lord. It is a time of drought and the neighboring land owner dams up a stream belonging to Dunk’s lord. They are hopelessly outnumbered. Duncan decides to try talking with the other land owner because of this fact. He goes with the squire Egg to the castle of the lady who is rumored to be a vicious murderer. From this visit, the story moves on to a good conclusion. The author provides an interesting plot and characters, adding a good story to his fantasy world.

“Yazoo Queen” by Orson Scott Card is set in his Alvin Maker world. This is an alternate history fantasy world of early America, but people have magic talents called knacks. Alvin is traveling down the Mississippi River on the steamboat called the Yazoo Queen. His young apprentice Arthur Stuart travels with him. There are slaves from the kingdom of Mexica on board. Arthur hates slavery because his mother died in getting him to freedom. Alvin must keep Arthur out of trouble while trying to stay out of a plot to invade Mexica. He meets Jim Bowie during the trip. Mr. Card creates a fascinating alternate history full of memorable characters. The story leaves readers with a satisfying end.

Legends II edited by Robert Silverberg has many entertaining stories for readers. There are stories from popular authors that explore other aspects of their Fantasy worlds. In addition to the stories reviewed in this article, the book contains stories from Terry Brooks, Elizabeth Haydon, Robert Silverberg, Diana Galbadon and Raymond Feist. The book provides readers new stories in their favorite worlds as well as places for new readers to the genre to sample without reading the book series many of the stories take place in. This is a strong anthology worth reading.