cover image The Book of Swords

The Book of Swords

Edited by Gardner Dozois. Bantam, $30 (544p) ISBN 978-0-399-59376-5

Swords and sorceries abound in this massive anthology, featuring several luminaries of the fantasy genre. A few of these stories stand out, including Ken Liu’s “The Hidden Girl,” in which a girl in mythical China is kidnapped by a sorceress and trained to become a brilliant assassin who walks between worlds. “ ‘I Am a Handsome Man,’ Said Apollo Crow” by Kate Elliott also breaks the mold with a man, or maybe a banished god, who’s bound by a curse to serve but may remain wily enough to choose his own master. Robin Hobb’s “Her Father’s Sword” will take her regular readers back to familiar territory as a young village girl struggles to cope with an attack in the setting of her Farseer novels. Other works, such as Daniel Abraham’s “The Mocking Tower” and Ellen Kushner’s “When I Was a Highwayman” (which takes place in her Riverside setting), feel familiar for a different reason, differentiating themselves very little from general fantasy tropes. The anthology has strengths and weaknesses, but many readers will pick it up just for a new George R.R. Martin short story tied to the Song of Ice and Fire series. (Oct.)