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Legends II

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Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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Legends II
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Legends II
Publisher: Ballantine
by Jee L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/31/2007 22:28:33

Legends II is a good collection overall, and good introductions to a lot of established fantasy worlds. The stories were generally good, with a couple of letdowns.

Homecoming by Robin Hobb was a gripping survival horror story of eldritch yet compelling beauty, well-plotted and satisfying. The Sworn Sword by George Martin, a big reason for my purchase, compellingly depicted the protagonist Dunk's dilemmas and emotions in addition to being a good story of knightly adventure. The Yazoo Queen by Orson Scott Card was a great introduction to the alternate America of Alvin Maker, with a mood and color all its own, very different from the usual fantasy fare. Lord John and the Succubus wasn't strictly fantasy, though I understand the original series is historical fantasy, but the story was a well-written horror mystery nonetheless. The Book of Changes by Robert Silverberg is a nice story of character growth and all the more interesting because it's a story about the process of writing. The Happiest Dead Boy in the World felt more like science fiction in its setting and conclusion, and a good piece at that with a neat, satisfying conclusion to the mystery that touches on the protagonist's central issue with an unusual exploration of the nature of life and change.

The Messenger by Raymond E. Feist was a pleasant surprise. I read a couple of Feist's books before and thought he was good with plots but emotionally flat. The Messenger, in contrast, was not only well-plotted but had a sympathetic protagonist I really came to care about. It was an extremely poignant read, a story about real heroism that was neither preachy nor saccharine. I highly recommend it, and am considering looking up more of Feist's work. Threshold by Elizabeth Haydon had gorgeous imagery and a sympathetic cast of characters in a well-defined world. I didn't find the world that interesting, but the story was okay. The Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman, my first introduction to Gaiman's writing, is a sophisticated modern fantasy where the fantastic and the mundane blur together to become something quirky, dangerous, and fascinating.

Beyond Between by Anne McCaffrey and Indomitable by Terry Brooks were the two big disappointments in an otherwise good collection. The plot of Beyond Between was full of holes, and there was very little effort to actually draw the reader into the characters other than Thaniel. The talking and wailing of the dragon riders just left me cold. Indomitable felt incomplete at the conclusion and the hero's predicament seemed too stupid to really sympathize with. I know these are both big names in fantasy. What I'd like to know is why.

Still, two duds out of eleven isn't bad, and the sheer variety of the styles and worlds represented is a strong point. I'd recommend this collection to anyone who wants an overview of the rich variety in this genre.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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