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Bibliophilic Monologues

Epic

Epic: Legends of Fantasy - Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R.R. Martin, Tad Williams, Juliet Marillier, Carrie Vaughn, Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliott, Trudi Canavan, Michael Moorcock, Paolo Bacigalupi, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Joseph Adams, Aliette d I didn’t think it was possible but it actually is as this book showed me. This collection of short epic fantasy stories – which are admittedly longer than most short stories – present a particular subgenre of fantasy that has always intrigued me. I like fantasy a lot. Epic fantasy with a strong female protagonist is also one of my favourite type of books so I jumped at the chance to review this one. And come on now, look at the line up of authors – most of them are award winning so double win, eh? Yes. It is a hefty book at over 600 pages but it contains in it some gems that make it worthwhile. My favourite story remains the first one by Robin Hobb. It is a journey of a woman, a rather cosseted woman who has lived her life as a pampered wife and daughter, into a wild and strange place. Her husband was exiled for treasonous behavior and they were sent with several other nobles to this strange land. The main character’s growth from the beginning of the story to its denouement is amazing and authentic. I love how she came into her own, discovered her strengths and made peace with her weaknesses. It definitely put Robin Hobb on my radar and I look forward to discovering more of her writing.Another story that I really liked was by Brandon Sanderson. Despite owning a trilogy of his, I have yet to read anything by him. However, this very short story was enough to whet my appetite for more of his writing. Kate Elliott’s tale about a girl’s desire for more than what her father and society will give her is intriguing as is Kowal’s tale about a woman warrior pulled out of her time and into the future. Jemisin’s return to the world her most recent duology was set in was a pleasure to read.There was only one story that I did not like. I did not like it a lot and it was by Moorcock. I dislike how he treated the female in his story. “Dumbly” and “mutely” were two adjectives used a lot on her and she was often stripped off her name as well and simply called “the girl.” Being a feminist and sensitive to these issues in literature, this raised my hackles. I recommend skipping his story. I wasn’t too impressed with Rothdfuss’s story either as the main character seemed like the male version of a Mary Sue.So this collection is like a fruit salad. There are some sweet bits, some sour ones but over all, it has some brilliant stories. It is difficult to condense the world building and detailing necessary in an epic fantasy tale into the number of words dictated by short story standards but most of these authors succeeded. I recommend this collection if you like epic fantasy already. It is not a good introduction to the genre as the stories assume some sort of familiarity with the tropes of the genre being read but it is definitely worthwhile checking out.