The three-volume definitive compilation of SFWA Grand Master Norton's short fiction concludes with 21 stories published between 1996 and 2005, the year of her death. Though her classic Witch World is notably absent from this volume, these often vignette-like pieces offer settings as varied as ninth-century Iceland, a contemporary Renaissance Faire, and the long-running far future of Norton's Forerunners and Free Traders series. The works are united across genres by pagan sympathies, the eternal clash of Light and Dark, and the spiritual puissance of cats (who even inherit a generation starship in "The End Is the Beginning"). Several works reveal Norton experimenting outside her usual range: magic-wielding Native Americans resist benevolent robot totalitarianism in "No Folded Hands," an explicit riposte to Jack Williamson's "With Folded Hands," while Nimuë and Guinevere contend with their past actions and mythic reputations in the Arthurian retellings of "Root and Branch Shall Change" and "Ravenmere." Few of these late stories will explain the prolific, pioneering author's appeal, but Norton completists will delight in their availability. Tor Books publisher Tom Doherty provides an introduction. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015 Release date: 10/01/2014 Genre: Fiction
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