Saturday, February 01, 2014

Book Review: Earth, Air, Fire, Water edited by Margaret Weis

Imagine a place you can travel to for knowledge that can only be reached by dreams, meditation or desire. Here you meet a being that guides you to stories which impart wisdom. _Earth, Air, Fire, Water_ is the second anthology of the "Tales from the Eternal Archives" series. Edited by Margaret Weis, this anthology has stories based on the four elements of ancient belief.

The anthology opens with "Burning Bright" by Tanya Huff. Carlene Aswith discovers she's a fire elemental when her mother, a wizard, dies. She wants to be a human again. Her friend Alynne helps her in her quest. The wizards are a bunch of dense, jealous fools. This story has humor and good characters. It's a tale about friendship.

"The Fire of a Found Heart" by Linda P. Baker is another story in the element of fire section. Asha's people and the elves hate each other. This long story tells of Asha's search for his soul mate before his people go to war. He experiences a journey of truth which changes him. Vivid settings and a strong theme make this story memorable.

A small town on the coast of Oregon is at the center of mysterious events. The police chief of this town investigates a mutilation killing of a seal pup. "Strange Creatures" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a story of the element of water. Dan Restler, the police chief, is drawn into a dark tale of selkies, an insane teenager and arrogant rich people. Rusch provides a gripping story with realistic settings and characters. Her style is clear and direct, making the reader want to finish the story.

Native American myth fills the water element tale of "Out of Hot Water" by Jane Lindskold. Jeanette is a young accountant spending her vacation at a hot springs resort in New Mexiso. She wishes something exciting and adventurous would happen to her. Her wish is granted by the grandmother water spirit of the springs. She must help the spirit stop thieves from plundering an ancient village of ruins nearby the resort. Readers will enjoy this story with it's interesting plot and realistic characters. It's streak of humor helps too.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman's "The Giant's Love" is the story of the giant Stig. Living underground all of his life, one day he pokes a hole into the above ground world. He slowly ventures out into the world and discovers he loves it. This is a gentle tale about the world we take for granted at times. Hoffman's deft storytelling brings this story alive and gives it a neat mythological touch.

Many other stories of the four elements are in this anthology. Readers will find stories of humor, joy and terror. The authors contributed diverse stories of magic and entertainment. It is a good addition to the "Tales from the Eternal Archives." Seek out the first book too called _Legends_. These anthologies are good if you don't have time to read a longer book.