Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Fantasy Medley 2 edited by Yanni Kuznia

Over the past year or so I've been reading more short fiction than ever before, largely because of anthologies like A Fantasy Medley 2. It's a collection of short stories by four authors: Tanya Huff, Amanda Downum, Jasper Kent and Seanan McGuire. I suspect we got it because of the inclusion of Seanan McGuire's contribution.

Often anthologies have a theme, I'm not sure if there is one in this. It doesn't explicitly say so, but the 4 stories were rather dark and a little depressing. Not sure if that was entirely intentional when the collection was put together or if that's just the way it turned out.

Of the 4 authors I'd read 3 of them. Jasper Kent is the only one I was unfamiliar with, although I have wanted to read his Napoleonic War vampire series, just never got around to including him on the TBR pile.

I have read some Tanya Huff, but never her Quarters series, which is where her story Quartered was set. I was unfamiliar with the setting and talk of bardic magic and kighs eluded me, although I was able to pick up the gist of the story. As with all of the stories in the collection it had a bitter sweet ending and left me a little sad at the end.

I quite enjoyed Amanda Downum's The Drowning City and Bone Garden was set in the world she uncovered in the sequel to The Drowning City, The Bone Palace. It too was rather dark and depressing, although her setting of a Russian flavoured world was very well done and quite atmospheric. I'm going to have to see about getting hold of a copy of The Bone Palace shortly.

Jasper Kent's books have largely dealt with the influence vampires had on the struggle between Russia and France during Napoleon's attempted conquest, generally from the Russian side. In The Sergeant and the General the other side was focussed on. The General of the title is actually a horse. This one was harrowing to read and it stayed with me for some time after finishing it. I actually needed to take a break before reading the collection's last story.

That story was Rat-Catcher. It deals with the origins of Tybalt the King of the Cats from Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye series. Afficionadoes of that series will enjoy seeing this look at Tybalt's early life and how he gained his position and just exactly why he has such affection for the works of William Shakespeare, especially Romeo and Juliet the play from which he takes the name he currently goes by. I came away with more sympathy for Tybalt, a character I have not played well with in the Toby Daye books.

It's a small collection and a bit depressing I have to say, but it does have four very high quality stories from talented and respected authors.

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