cover image The Book of Magic

The Book of Magic

Edited by Gardner Dozois. Bantam, $30 (576p) ISBN 978-0-399-59378-9

The final collection from the late, great anthologist and editor Dozois (The Book of Swords) is another superior volume. It seeks, ambitiously, “to cover the whole world of magic” through 17 contributions from a variety of authors. Dozois’s selections illustrate the range of possible plot lines involving wizards and other beings capable of using magic to affect the material world, which include a mystery (Garth Nix’s atmospheric “The Staff in the Stone,” featuring both good and bad female wizards) and a spy story (Greg van Eekhout’s “The Wolf and the Manticore”). The best-known contributor, George R.R. Martin, is not at his best here; his “A Night at the Tarn House,” set in a world created by Jack Vance, has some clever twists, but the writing is uneven and not at his usual standard. Still, all the authors demonstrate adeptness at worldbuilding within the confines of the short story format, bringing the reader into their imagined realms in just a few paragraphs. This is a fine capstone to Dozois’s lengthy career. (Oct.)