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Art of War: Anthology for Charity Kindle Edition
"War, my friend, is a thing of beauty."
How do you get forty fantasy authors to contribute short stories for a war-themed anthology without paying them? It sounds as if there should be a good punchline to that, but all Petros Triantafyllou did was twist the moral thumbscrews and tell them all the profits would go to Doctors Without Borders, a charity that works tirelessly across the world to alleviate the effects of conflict, sickness and poverty.
So, with clear consciences, several busloads of excellent and acclaimed fantasy authors have applied themselves to the task of penning a veritable mountain of words on the subject of The Art of War, expect bloodshed, gore, pathos, insight, passion, and laughs. Maybe even a wombat. Who knows. Anyway, as the original blurb said: "It's good. Buy it."
Featuring: Mark Lawrence, Ed Greenwood, Brian Staveley, Miles Cameron, John Gwynne, Sebastien De Castell, Mitchell Hogan, Stan Nicholls, Andrew Rowe, C.T. Phipps, Rob J. Hayes, Nicholas Eames, Mazarkis Williams, Ben Galley, Michael R. Fletcher, Graham Austin-King, Ed McDonald, Anna Stephens, Anna Smith Spark, RJ Barker, Michael R. Miller, Benedict Patrick, Sue Tingey, Dyrk Ashton, Steven Kelliher, Timandra Whitecastle, Laura M Hughes, J.P. Ashman, M.L. Spencer, Steven Poore, Brandon Draga, D. Thourson Palmer, D.M. Murray, Anne Nicholls, R.B. Watkinson, Charles F Bond, Ulff Lehmann, Thomas R. Gaskin, Zachary Barnes & Nathan Boyce. With a Foreword by Brian D. Anderson.
Print version includes 40 black & white interior art pieces.
-James Tivendale, Fantasy Book Review
- ASIN : B078GVVB7T
- Publication date : February 13, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 3676 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 504 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #266,435 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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I don’t often like every story in an anthology (and yet, don’t like to skip over stories I don’t like in the beginning, just in case I love them in the end), so even my absolute favorites (Rogues, Unfettered) are largely 3 star events for me because I loved some stories and disliked others and it evens out to somewhere in the middle.
This one though… this one leaned far, far closer to ‘I like all of these!’ than not. Very, very close to complete likage, in fact. In fact, I don’t think I can say I disliked any of them. These stories are also often shorter than I have found is typical in fantasy anthologies. Some are only 5-10 minutes of reading long. This is not a bad thing. If I can sip someone’s work for 10 minutes and yet get a complete story out of the deal, that’s a good thing. But, it should also be said that this is an anthology whose theme is war, and so many of these stories are not in any way what you would consider to be… uplifting. Some are downright depressing AF. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, if they are enjoyable to read. If they’re written well and spark your imagination, which most of these do. Some are really grim, but others aren’t. Some are legitimately funny. So, it’s a nice variety.
Let me tell you about some of my favorites. I won’t comment on every single story, because… let’s be honest here, there are 40 of them and I already tend to ramble. Let’s call it… sort of a top 10, okay? Okay. Oh, I wrote down 11? Okay, 11 then. GO!
The Breaking of the Sky by Ed McDonald – Being the first story in the anthology, it starts the whole thing off with quite a bang. This takes place in the same world as Blackwing, and tells the story, more or less, of how the Misery became the Misery. But, don’t worry if you haven’t read Blackwing, you don’t need any knowledge of it to enjoy this story!
Dear Menelaus by Laura M. Hughes – Being in the form of a letter to Menelaus, the king of Sparta from his estranged wife, Helen (yes, that Helen). All I really have to say about this one is: hells yes, preach it, girl!
Warborn by C.T. Phipps – This story was intriguing AF, and I want to read more of the like. Summoning demons, and demons vs. demons. I really liked the writing style. I liked the sarcasm of the main character, too. I haven’t read any of C.T. Phipps stuff (there’s a few on the TBR of Babel though!) but I’m damn well going to start.
This War of Ours by Timandra Whitecastle – An interesting story which conjured, to me, images of a world quite like ours. A woman and her children flee a war torn city. The woman is someone special, someone magical, and so with that in mind, this story conjured up all kinds of imagery. And then it came in and swiftly stabbed me right in the feels, because of course it did.
The Fox and the Bowman by Sebastien de Castell – This story has a really interesting trick about it, that makes it seem so much bigger and more complex than it truly is. I thought it was a fantastic bit of storytelling, and I loved the characters! This is another author whom I have not read anything from yet, but in this case, I have pretty much every book he’s published (including two I had to import!) on my shelves, so, I mean, it’s… it’s gunna happen soon.
Sacred Semantics by Nicholas Eames – This is the story of two factions of spider-people, some with six legs, and some with eight, who are at war with each other based on a bit of a disagreement over whether the spider goddess that both factions worship has six legs or eight, which… when you really think about it, is a really realistic reason for two nations of spider-esque people to go to war. Neph was a great character, and this was a riveting story with a great ending!
Violet by Mazarkis Williams – A story about a farm girl named Violet who wakes up after a night giving a traveling magician Shelter, by the traditions of her people, and realizes that something is wrong about her. Something is missing and she thinks the magician stole it, so she follows him in an effort to find him and get it back. I thought this story has a great premise, and the world it took place in was really interesting. I want more!
The Undying Lands by Michael R. Fletcher – This is a great, funny story about a coliseum within a section of land that was once cursed by a necromancer. Anyone who dies there becomes undead, so it’s (of course) where the ruler of the land sets accused criminals on each other in duels to the death. Anyone who defeats 10 living people goes free. Anyone who dies in their first fight gets their head put on a shelf in the privy. So… uh… win?
Rendered Chaos by D.M. Murray – A story about a painter who is tasked by the archduke to paint a visceral war painting. He leaves his cushy, wine-and-women-filled life to see a real battlefield in order to get the proper inspiration and experience to carry out his task. This story is hilariously sweary and crass AF. The main character was snarky and awesome. I loved it! I’ll definitely be reading more of this author’s stuff sooner rather than later!
Valkyrie Rain by Dyrk Ashton – A story in the world of Paternus about Ragnarok, from the POV of one of the Valkyries. This was interesting to me because I love, love, love Norse mythology, and I love the way that Dyrk mixes up all mythologies together in his world, and how I think of the All-father as so many different people now, thanks to Paternus! I recently watched Thor: Ragnarok and read another book in which the event featured pretty strongly. These last few months have been Ragnarok-tacular for me, and I’m okay with it (as long as the world doesn’t end and all that). This was a fantastic addition to my unplanned Ragnarok-themed media consumption.
The Hero of Aral Pass by Mark Lawrence – Oh Jalan. Never change. I could read about you forever. This was my favorite story in the whole anthology, because I did love me some Red Queen’s War. This is a story which gives a little bit of insight into Jalan’s life after the end of The Wheel of Osheim, which is hilarious. It also details some of his exploits in the battle at Aral Pass and just how he became the hero. It… it happens pretty much exactly how you think it happens, if you know anything about Jalan Kendeth and his modus operandi.
You should definitely pick this one up. Worth every penny!
(I did receive a free copy of this particular anthology from one of the authors in it, however it should be noted that all the proceeds from the sale of this book go to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, so there’s really no reason to not buy it. We’re each doing a little good for the world by buying it.)
From the theme alone, you might expect that Grimdark fans in particular will be very happy with this collection, and you would be correct. But the thing that surprised and delighted me was that there was also such an absurd amount of creativity, and hope. There are yarns about outcasts who find acceptance, tales that touch on class struggles and stories of heart, fairy tales, fraternal love and incredible beauty. There’s a story written from the perspective of a piece of metal that made my heart ache. Helen of Troy sends her husband to the burn unit in the most glorious fashion. A cowardly fraud pulls off a piece of tactical genius completely by accident and grows so much by the end that I came to love him.
It’s all here.
That’s not to say that there isn’t the occasional weak entry. But as anthologies go? It’s a strong one. There were only a handful that didn’t speak to me, and I had a very hard time picking my ten favorites for this review. But here they are!
Dear Menelaus by Laura M. Hughes
Short and sweet, Helen of Troy sends a letter to Menelaus excoriating him not only for his decision to invade Troy, but for using her as an excuse to do so. Her perspective is absolutely delightful and she’s snarky as heck. Hughes is a fantastic writer of short stories (see Danse Macabre if you need any convincing) and this is no exception.
This War of Ours by Timandra Whitecastle
An incredibly impactful, emotional tale about a family on the run from wildcat soldiers. Told from the perspective of the eldest child, it begins with a list of the things that she has lost as a result of war and only grows more heartbreaking from there. To pack this much punch into a standalone story of such short length takes incredible skill and I’ll be looking out for more of her work in future.
The Fox and the Bowman by Sebastien de Castell
Whoa. Seriously. This one was absolutely amazing. Featuring Reynard the Fox, a nuanced tale about the nature of revenge that stays true to Reynard’s nature as a trickster, but also keeps him relatable. I have heard great things about de Castell for years but I believe this will be the catalyst for me finally seeking out his work.
Misplaced Heroism by Andrew Rowe
Oh, yeah. Did I mention that some of these stories were also fun? Anyone who has read my review of Sufficiently Advanced Magic shouldn’t be surprised to see this one in my top ten, and Rowe is on form here. Not only does he poke fun at fantasy tropes, but he gives us a hearty wink as he does so. It’s an amusing and light-hearted story which provides some much needed levity, and the occasional funny twist.
Grannit by JP Ashman
A charming young boy goes to war and wins the favor of his liege lord through sheer force of personality. There’s fraternal love, loss, and unshakable loyalty over the years. Genuinely a lovely uplifting piece about good people and how the class divide can be overcome. Warm fuzzies, I loved it.
The Feather and the Paw by Benedict Patrick
My favorite story of the anthology. It’s a morality fable that would be right at home in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Those of you who grew up on Jim Henson’s The Storyteller should feel that you’re in familiar territory here. The Lionfolk, under their King Reoric, decide to invade the forest of The Magpie King, who repeatedly warns them away. But his warnings are more than they appear, and his sorrow when King Reoric advances into his territory is not necessarily for himself and his people. Fantastic stuff.
Good Steel by Zachary Barnes
This was an amazingly creative entry and I absolutely loved it. A piece of steel is fashioned into a tool belonging to a farmer. It has feelings, memory and senses. It sounds weird but it’s deeply compelling and if you had told me I’d feel sorry for a piece of metal when I started out I’d have laughed at you, but here we are!
The Undying Lands by Michael R. Fletcher
This was one of the darker stories that I really enjoyed – Fayad is pretty much out of luck. She’s been taken prisoner because she stabbed a guy who grabbed her, except it turns out the guy was rich and important. Also he died from the injuries she inflicted.
Now she’s being forced into gladiatorial combat, and she has to kill 10 people in order to be freed. Except she’s only ever killed that one guy, by accident. And she’s been equipped with a rusty blade. And her opponent? He only has one kill to go.
Shortblade by Brandon Draga
Oh my god this one had so much heart and warmth and pluckiness, I just adored it. A Halfling with a deep sense of duty serves the city watch, since he’s unable to serve in the army. He catches wind of a conspiracy and together with his father he seeks to do everything he can for his people despite their dismissal of him. It’s just so heartwarming, you guys. It certainly bumped Brandon up my ‘authors to watch’ list.
The Hero of Aral Pass by Mark Lawrence
An incredible end to an incredible anthology. Mark’s story is full of wry humor, poking fun at legends versus reality and it’s absolutely jammed with memorable, laugh-out-loud lines. Our protagonist is a spoiled, cowardly princeling who deeply resents being forced to earn his title and position and pulls off a feat of tactical mastery completely by accident. Perfect.
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Ill definitely be looking up some of these authors in future
I’m not going to give a run down of every story in the anthology, such is the limitation on time, but believe me when I say there is something in here for everyone. Everyone, that is, who enjoys fantasy tales ranging from the unrelentingly grim, action filled, emotional, humorous, visceral, as well as the crude and immature (I’ll take a bow for that one).
The length of stories makes for the perfect book for a short commute, or for stealing a few minutes here and there.
There are some real stellar names in this collection, with firmly established leaders in the genre pitching up beside new found stars, up-and-comers and leading lights in the Indie world. Somehow, Petros has achieved the near impossible by ‘herding cats’ and produced a really solid piece of work.
I take my hat off to all the contributors, be it for the stories, the awesome cover art and design, the internal art, the editing, or simply the sheer bloody mindedness of Petros for getting it across the line!
Have I mentioned you are supporting a fantastic charity?!