Robert Silverberg (ed)
Legends
HarperCollins 1998

Legends is a collection of short stories from different well-known fantasy worlds, edited by Robert Silverberg, who also present a story from his own world, Majipoor. But there are several other authors represented who are more well-known to the general fantasy audience. Listen to this: Ursula K Le Guin, Robert Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Tad Williams, Terry Pratchett, Terry Goodkind, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffrey and George R. R. Martin. Basically, this is an all-star team of bestselling fantasy writers.

In general, you'll like the short stories if you liked the novels. Some say writing short stories is something completely different from writing novels. But if you've read Terry Pratchett's books about Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, you'll find more of the same here. If you've read Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time-series, you'll immediately recognize his way of writing when you read his contribution, "New Spring", about how Lan and Morgaine met.

Jordan is not alone in using some of his regular characters in his contribution. Terry Goodkind also tells a story about what happened to them earlier on - in this case Zedd and Abby. Orson Scott Card's absolutely faboulous little story - maybe the best of them all - takes place sometime during Alvin's wanderings with Arthur Stuart, Raymond E. Feist's during the Riftwar, while Ursula K. Le Guin tells us something about what happened after "Tehanu".

Tad Williams and George R. R. Martin have brought us two very ambitious contributions, both set a few hundred years before their respective series. Williams' "The Burning Man" is about one of the Hayholt's former human inhabitators, commonly called "the Heron King". A tragic story, told by a young woman in his court. George R. R. Martin's "Hedge Knight" is a very medieval story about knightly life in the days when the Dragons still ruled Seven Kingdoms. Just like in "A Game of Thrones", there's almost no magic except for the magic of incredibly skillful writing. When I read that story, I was so happy I'd get a copy of the next book in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga soon.

Some of the stories I can't appreciate fully because I haven't read anything from their worlds before: Stephen King, Anne McCaffrey and Robert Silverberg, all of them writing in the borderland to other genres (horror and western for King, science fiction for McCaffrey and Silverberg). Some of the stories I really can't appreciate for other reasons, most notably Terry Goodkind's. I really tried to read him with an open mind, but he was just as bad as I remembered him - and not even in a short story like "Debt of Bones" he could leave out some disgustingly detailed descriptions of torture and mutilation. And of course there are some writers' stories I really would've loved to see here, like Robin Hobb, Katharine Kerr and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, but never the less I think this is a great collection of fantasy stories. It's a great idea to collect stories like this, and the execution is well-done.

Karl Henriksson


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