Unsheathed: An Epic Fantasy Collection. 2018: Hydra Publications. ISBN = 9781940466682
Edited by Stuart Thaman.
Contains: 9 fantasy stories, all of which would be classified as either sword and sorcery or high fantasy. Full disclosure: one of the stories is mine.
Hanging at Crosbothar, by Austin Worley: A great opening line here, “Corpses hung from the ancient maple like leaves.” Has an historical feel—brought to mind the Templars—but brings in magic as a significant player in the story. The primary hero is female and is well drawn. Writing is good; lots of sensory details. Enjoyable.
Retribution by Night, by Chad Vincent: No real hero in this story, but plenty of villains. The one known as Armstrong is most memorable. I’d generally consider it sword and sorcery but the naming convention in the story sounds more historical. The writing style is very unusual, perhaps rather experimental on the part of the author. Interesting read.
Where All the Souls are Hollow, by Charles Gramlich: My story. Features the character, Krieg, a series character I’ve been working with. This was intended to be sword and sorcery with a twist. I won’t give that away. For those of you familiar with fantasy, the charter of Krieg probably most resembles Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane.
Switch Blade, by Dr. Scott Simerlein: More high fantasy than sword and sorcery, and a tale with humor. A magical blade that can switch bodies and souls. The tale hinges on the difficulty of getting the right soul back into the right body after an accident. Ingenious plot. A very satisfying ending that brought a smile and a “well-done.”
King’s Road, by G. Dean Manuel: This one has another magical blade and my favorite character in the collection, Prince William. William’s father, the king, is not serving his land well in the face of a sorcerous invasion. William has to act but he does so with honor by giving his father a chance for redemption. A good read with another strong ending. Has a kind of historical feel.
The Artefact, by Ross Baxter: Excellent start to this tale, when three companions enter a ruined estate in search of secrets. There’s a cool female warrior named Silja, and a tinkerer named Jud, who is the primary character. I liked Jud a lot and liked how the tale ended. Sword and sorcery.
Under Locke and Key, by Jay Erickson: The only story to feature a child as main character, although there are strong supporting characters. Gwendolyn is a slave girl in a land where a plague called the “Red Tears” is running rampant. The cure to the plague is hidden in plain sight but the story is well constructed so you don’t solve the mystery until the final reveal. I liked it quite a lot. Sword and sorcery with an historical feel.
Ransom for a Prince, by Liam Hogan: This one features a realistically portrayed female warrior who must fight a desperate battle to give her liege a chance to escape. No magic in this one. Lots of good fighting choreography. And a strong ending. Well done.
Only an Elf, By Stuart Thaman: This one features elves and dwarves and leans more toward high fantasy. The main character is an elven slave of the dwarves who discovers a way to strike back at her captors. Well told tale with interesting and complex characters.
One is yours? I'll have to pick it up.
I've seen this on Goodreads and, definitely, I'll have to pick it up. I love your Krieg character and the other stories seems very interesting too.
Congratulations on all the publishing news! That's so great, Charles! I'm very much looking forward to reading your Western novel.
Alex, a longish story called "Where all the souls are hollow."
Vesper, thank you. Much appreciated, of course! :)
Love me to find an amber dinosaur tail ... I don't know why I keep believing, friend Charles ... Love, cat.
Cat, that would be very cool
I appreciate your exposing me to these genres I would not otherwise know much about, Charles. Thank you for finding time to post
Cloudia, thanks for visiting.
Thank you Charles, and with long, dark winter nights approaching I'd like to give this a try, sounds gOOd....
Shadow, thanks. :)
Congratulations on another publication. Double-congratulations on another non-academic publication.
Sounds like an interesting collection of stories, but I'm now haunted with the thought of corpse-filled maple trees. I mean, would the sap taste like blood? And if so, is it really wise to put its syrup on pancakes?
X, thanks much, man. Syrup is tree blood man. Always has been
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