Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ex Libris: George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois' Warriors

Warriors fight and die; sometimes they live.

One could say that it's been a pretty good year for single-title anthologies. First it was Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio's Stories, which I reviewed earlier and found it be a pretty solid collection. Now there's George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois-- both with impeccable records as editors and anthologists-- coming out with Warriors.

As I mentioned in that previous post, it takes a lot of skill to create an anthology, neither letting the theme limit the stories nor the range of stories diffuse the power of theme. In this case, Martin and Dozois take a somewhat wider view of what constitutes 'a warrior', ranging from a dog (James Rollins' "The Pit") to a French engineer prisoner in Morocco ("The Scroll" by David Ball) to a contemporary tale of a woman "avenging" her childhood (Lawrence Block's "Clean Slate"). Of course, there are the normal warriors here, from historical (Romans, Vikings, and the French Foreign Legion) to SFF (Naomi Novik's alien translator who goes native in "Seven Years from Home", Joe Haldeman's as well as Tad William's cybernetic soldiers in "Forever Bound" and "Ministers of Grace" respectively, and of course a new ASOFAI story by Martin himself).

Overall, the collection is pretty strong: Martin and Dozois have recruited well-known writers with nary an unknown name among them (for me anyway). There are some excellent, excellent stories here (Peter Beagle's "Dirae" and Howard Waldrop's "Ninieslando" always good selections, Joe R. Lansdale's "Solderin'" and SM Stirling's "Ancient Ways" are fun buddy-romps, Dozois' "Recividist" a surprisingly good read and of course Martin's story "The Mystery Knight") while others-- though not high on my list-- are still powerful enough to stick in my head afterwards (harrowing prisoner tales courtesy of Ball's story and Steven Saylor's "The Eagle and the Rabbit", Celia Holland's historical "The King of Norway" and Vaughn's WW2 women air force pilots in "The Girls from Avenger").

So yeah, a pretty short review. But then again, when you know it's good, why bother gilding the lily? (Rating: Four paws out of four.)

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