A Fantasy Medley 2 edited by Yanni Kuznia (book review).

May 10, 2019 | By | 2 Replies More

‘A Fantasy Medley 2’ is one of those ‘taster’ anthologies that feature stories from on-going series. The publisher’s cunning plan is to get you hooked on a set of characters and a fantasy setting so you buy all the books. If the tasters are good enough, it works. So do these four tales cut the mustard? Let’s see.

In ‘Quartered’ by Tanya Huff, the young bard Evicka, due to go Walking in winter, the fourth quarter, is given a dangerous mission. She has to visit a timber holding granted by the late king to ex-imperial assassin Vireyda Magaly and her lover, Gyhard i’ Stevana. They’ re suspected of being up to no good and Evicka can drop in on them as part of her Walk and check what’ s happening. I mostly enjoyed this but have two nits to pick. There’s a part near the end where Evicka does an internal monologue that’s a bit too cute for my taste, like something from ‘Friends’. She also wonders about rhyming words in English which rather scuppers the fantasy otherworld suspension of disbelief, unless they speak English there. Other than that, a rather sweet story well told.

‘Bone Garden’ by Amanda Downum is a darker piece of work. The setting is the city of Erisîn from her novel ‘The Bone Palace’. Gentian is a modestly successful actor but his real name is Kostya and he was a Rosian refugee. He’s escaped from the ghetto these last ten years but his past catches up with him when he finds cousin Sonya collapsed in a doorway. He takes her in and gets involved again in the troubles of his people. A tale of spirits, fortune tellers and sacrifice with sensual prose.

‘The Sergeant And The General’ is by Jasper Kent. The background is that of his Danilov Quintet. Paris, 1819 and a young medical student takes up lodgings in a house owned by Sergeant Mellé, a veteran of Napoleon’s tragic Russian campaign. When he decides to get a horse, he finds that the landlord has a strange relationship with that animal. The structure was odd, beginning with the student’s story told in the first person and then cutting to the sergeant’s tale back in Russia with his one-eyed horse, General Kutuzov. As a history fan and a one time resident of Paris for three months, I enjoyed this and liked Jasper Kent’s clean, straightforward prose style enough to look for more of his work.

The Court of Cats exists in the tenuous membrane between the Summerlands and every other realm of mortal or Faerie and passage to it is through the shadows which are the burden and birthright of the Cait Sidhe.’ It’s July 1666, London, and Rand, Prince of the Court, is watching ‘Romeo And Juliet’ when his younger sister, Jill, comes to fetch him for he has been summoned by the King. Rand is to be the cats envoy to the Divided Courts for the latest of their assemblies, travelling there via the Shadow Roads. ‘Rat-Catcher’ by Seanan McGuire is set in her ‘October Daye’ series. The cat people are different, not just humans in fur but with genuine feline qualities. They’re competitive and merciless. Rand, the first person narrator, is a sympathetic character coping with a difficult situation. The background is well thought out and the story entertaining. I really enjoyed this one.

My version of ‘A Fantasy Medley 2’ is a paperback advanced uncorrected proof of the deluxe hardcover edition released in 2012 priced at $20. The book is a few years old and I guess I’ m lucky to have it because the second-hand price is double that now, perhaps because fans of the several series involved want to get the individual stories. The first couple of tales were entertaining enough and I rate highly the last two. Not a bad average for any anthology.

Eamonn Murphy

May 2019

(pub: Subterranean Press, 2012. 160 page deluxe hardback. Price: $20.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-514-7)

check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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Comments (2)

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  1. Julian White says:

    Seanan McGuire is the birth name of a writer and musician (filker to be exact) who also writes as Mira Grant… She (I think it’s not incorrect to use that pronoun as she ‘identifies as bisexual or pansexual’ acording to wikipedia) or perhaps ‘they’ received a record five nominations for a Hugo in 2013 (also according to wikipedia)…

    Sorry – I’m in pedant mode today!

  2. EamonnMurphy says:

    Thanks, Julian. I think my spellchecker may have altered it without me noticing. I’ve asked Geoff to change it. I really liked the story.

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