An Armory of Swords

Fred Saberhagen, Editor
Fred Saberhagen, Editor Tor Books $21.95 (317p) ISBN 978-0-312-85414-0
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-8125-2283-9
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Even readers unfamiliar with Saberhagen's Lost Swords series (The Last Book of Swords: Shieldbreaker's Story, etc.) will have no trouble following these stories written by a variety of authors and set in that saga's sword-and-sorcery universe. Saberhagen's ``Blind Man's Blade'' not only recapitulates the origin of the Swords (each of which is enchanted in its own way) but also sets up the premise for most of the remaining seven tales here. Each of the other writers, veterans (Walter Jon Williams, Michael A. Stackpole, Robert E. Vardemann) and relative newcomers (Pati Nagle, Gene Bostwick, Sage Walker, Thomas Saberhagen) alike, brings an individual perspective--but it's quickly apparent that many of the stories are uncomfortably similar to one another. In Bostwick's ``Fealty,'' Vardemann's ``Dragon Debt,'' Stackpole's ``Luck of the Draw'' and Thomas Saberhagen's ``The Sword of Aren-Nath,'' for instance, the reader can end up rooting for bullies and braggarts who are at least honest about their intentions rather than for the ostensible heroes. Williams's ``Woundhealer,'' however, deals with the Lost Swords on their own terms without compromising his usual storytelling excellence, while Nagle's ``Glad Yule'' and Walker's ``Stealth and the Lady'' would be worthy additions to any anthology. Even with its flaws, this collection is as interesting as most of the shared-world anthologies that seemed to glut the market just a few years ago. (June)
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