Book 26 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from Feb. 24 - March 21
The Way of the Wizard
multiple authors, edited by John Joseph Adams
Summary (via the book jacket)
We all want it, they've got it - witches, warlocks, sorcerers, necromancers, those who peer beneath the veil of mundane reality and put their hands on the levers that move the universe. They see the future in a sheet in glass, summon fantastic beasts, and transform lead into gold...or you into a frog. From Gandalf to Harry Potter to the Last Airbender, wizardry has never been more exciting and popular.
Enter a world where anything is possible, where imagination becomes reality. Experience the thrill of power, the way of the wizard. Now acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams (The Living Dead) brings you thirty-two of the most spellbinding tales ever written, by some of today's most magical talents.
I have little notes about each story. There was also a problem with the book itself that I will explain at the point in the stories that it happened.
In the Lost Lands by George R.R. Martin
I've never read this author before but after reading this story, I can see why people like him so much. There was a full emotional arc packed into a short story. It was excellent and I would definitely read him again.
Quote from the Story: "Those who dealt with Gray Alys did so at their own peril, it was said. Gray Alys did not refuse any of those who came to her, and she always got them what they wanted. Yet somehow, when all was done, those who dealt with Gray Alys were never happy with the things that she brought them, the things that they had wanted."
Family Tree by David Barr Kirtley
It was really good but the ending fell a little flat. I wanted more for Simon.
Quote from the Story: "Meredith stood then, turning to regard Simon. She was tall and grim and wrathful, her hair dancing on ethereal winds, arcs of lightning adorning her fingers, eyes full of a fiery hatred. Simon beheld those eyes and knew there could be no more pleading, no more chances. His dreams had died along with Malcolm."
This is where something bizarre happened. At page 52, partway through the story John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner, the pages turned into a completely different book, Delfina's Gold by Willard Thompson, which isn't a story from the book and actually isn't a short story at all. That continued until page 96 and then the book went back to the correct stories. The end result was that I didn't get the ending of John... or any of the stories Wizard's Apprentice, The Sorcerer Minus, and Life So Dear or Peace So Sweet.
Card Sharp by Rajan Khanna
Very entertaining with a good story arc.
Quote from the Story: "Quentin had played the Fool and luck had carried him through. Now was his time to make a new play. Now he would be the Magician."
So Deep That the Bottom Could Not Be Seen by Genevieve Valentine
The message was given in a lighthearted but powerful way. The ending was a little flat.
Quote from the Story: "The woman sat, amid a chorus of derisive laughter from the spellcasters. James said, "If they had to call their spells from the grass, they wouldn't be laughing." "If they had to call their spells from the grass," Anna said, "we'd still have grass.""
The Go-Slow by Nnedi Okorafor
There were a lot of elements thrown in for a short story. It was fine.
Quote from the Story: "It was amazing how slowly time moved in certain situations, especially ones of deep annoyance. Go-slows were like getting stuck in time warps."
Too Fatal a Poison by Krista Hoeppner Leahy
This one was very short even by short story standards. It had a cliffhanger ending - I hope he found happiness.
Quote from the Story: "Somewhere in the long middle of the war, there came a day when Odysseus ordered the two of us to collect all the eyes from the dead. We never talked about that day. But that was the day we became brothers."
Jamaica by Orson Scott Card
I got lost in the story. It had potential for more; I'd read a full length book about Jam and Gan.
Quote from the Story: ""The only way I'll ever get on the basketball court is if I'm already dead and they're using me for a freethrow line.""
The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Robert Silverberg
The ending didn't feel like an ending. I was really into the story but then it just stopped; it's like he hit a max word count and said he was done.
Quote from the Story: "But he wanted to remain her, and so he would do whatever she asked of him, call her by whatever name she requested, and so forth, obeying her in all things. In this ugly, unfriendly city she was the one spot of brightness and warmth for him, regardless of the complexities of the situation."
The Secret of Calling Rabbits by Wendy N. Wagner
That was satisfying. I liked that story.
Quote from the Story: "An odd piece of him wanted to hide and watch her enjoy his disappearing act. But instinct and habit kept him running. Instinct, and a breeze carrying the graveyard smell of mandrake."
The Wizards of Perfil by Kelly Link
The premise was really intriguing but it felt longer than it actually was because I was bored.
Quote from the Story: ""There's a man who comes to the market today, who buys children for the wizards of Perfil. He pays good money and they say the children are treated well.""
How to Sell the Ponti Bridge by Neil Gaiman
This was really intriguing. Although the link to wizards is weak, this may be one of my favorites in the book. It reminded me of a 2 minute mystery.
Quote from the Story: "And there was silence in the Hall of the Lost Carnadine Rogues' Club. We were lost in contemplation of the brilliance of the man who sold the Ponti Bridge."
The Magician and the Maid and Other Stories by Christie Yant
I liked the back and forth between the story and "real life" but there was no twist for me because I was able to predict where it was going.
Quote from the Story: ""A real fairy tale. With wolves and witches, jealous parents, woodsmen charged with murdering the innocent. Tell me a story, Miles...tell me a story that is true.""
Winter Solstice by Mike Resnick
This story was a good length and I really liked it.
Quote from the Story: "Did I love her, the owner of this face? Will we bring joy and comfort to one another, will we produce sturdy, healthy children to comfort us in our old age? I don't know, because my old age has been spent, and hers is yet to come, and I have forgotten what she does not yet know."
The Trader and the Slave by Cinda Williams Chima
The main character is from the Heir series my daughter has recommended to me and based on this story, I'm looking forward to reading them.
Quote from the Story: "Life is a series of trades - a heartstone for an enchanter. New stories for old. Sin for redemption. The devil you knew for the one you didn't. Perhaps an ending for a new beginning."
Cerile and the Journeyer by Adam-Troy Castro
I loved this story!
Quote from the Story: "The journeyer was still a young man when he embarked on his search for the all-powerful witch Cerile. He was bent and gray-haired a lifetime later when he found a map to her home in the tomb of the forgotten kings."
Counting the Shapes by Yoon Ha Lee
Meh, it was okay. I'm not quite sure what happened but it was fine.
Quote from the Story: "A problem may have several solutions, but some solutions can still be wrong."
Endgame by Lev Grossman
It was good until the ending which was abrupt and not really an ending.
Quote from the Story: "Here they were, the winners of humanity's great historical lottery, living in the richest city in the world, in the richest period of human civilization ever, and they were trudging to work in a rat-infested cement cavern on their way to stare at computer screens for eight hours."
Street Wizard by Simon R. Green
I loved the main character and would read an entire series about him. It was an unique, interesting premise and he could have all sorts of adventures. I will read this author again.
Quote from the Story: "Someone has to watch their backs, to protect them from the dangers they don't even know are out there."
Mommy Issues of the Dead by T.A. Pratt
This has the best title of the book. I like his writing style and would like to read his series featuring this character.
Quote from the Story: "And to make matters worse, as Marla clung halfway down a muddy hillside in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, she couldn't stop thinking about her mother."
One-Click Banishment by Jeremiah Tolbert
Nope. This story was only 16 pages long but I had to put it down multiple times before finishing. The ending wasn't bad but there were so many twists and turns that it felt like a ripoff to have the whole thing explained through dialogue at the end.
Quote from the Story: "Yeah, the rumors are true. Big Mother caught me..."
The Ereshkigal Working by Jonathan L. Howard
The story was the perfect length and I liked how it ended with a witty line. It looks like this character is part of a series; I would definitely read about him again.
Quote from the Story: "This was not the first time a corpse had abruptly sat up on the mortuary slab and turned to face Johannes Cabal with murder in its eyes; it was, however, the first time one had done so without waiting to be formally reanimated."
Feeding the Feral Children by David Farland
Their actions throughout the story were a bit of a stretch but it was a good story.
Quote from the Story: "Every soul embodies both the yin and yang, he told himself. Each is balanced between darkness and light. I gave into the darkness for a moment, and now I must seek balance again."
The Orange-Tree Sacrifice by Vylar Kaftan
This 2 page story was the shortest of the bunch. Not a lot of time to form an opinion; it was fine.
Quote from the Story: "She was just alive enough for the pain to crush her thoughts."
Love is the Spell That Casts Out Fear by Desirina Boskovich
The alternating between wizardry and religion was too heavy. I almost didn't finish it in one sitting. Too much was left unanswered; I think I know what happened but it was pretty vague.
Quote from the Story: "A wizard's job is to untangle time, to retie the ropes. And to fight the danger they're facing now."
El Regalo by Peter S. Beagle
It took a long time to tell that story. The plot was decent but it was all details and then the big ending was summed up very quickly.
Quote from the Story: "Witch or no witch, he was still a small boy, with almost no real idea of what he was doing. He was winging it all, playing it all by ear."
The Word of Unbinding by Ursula K. Le Guin
This was a good quick story.
Quote from the Story: "It was up to him to protect the land."
The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria by John R. Fultz
It had a strong start but wrapped up so easily it seemed pointless.
Quote from the Story: "Alone in his bedroom, his feet tucked beneath the warm covers, he began to read about the One True World."
The Secret of the Blue Star by Marion Zimmer Bradley
It went a direction I didn't expect. The story was a little melodramatic but I would read her book about this character.
Quote from the Story: "Painfully, Lythande thought: If she had only loved me, without the spell; then I could have loved."