Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy (Anglais) Broché – 8 septembre 2001
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THE LITTLE SISTERS OF ELURIA is Stephen King's contribution, set in the world(s) of The Dark Tower. It describes how the last gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, encounters first a band of mutant humans and then the not-so-benevolent sisterhood of the title.
THE SEA AND LITTLE FISHES features Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, set at the time of an annual competition to see who's the best at witching. Granny's inevitable victory shakes up the whole kingdom as she shows how she's bad at being nice but good at being right.
DEBT OF BONES is a story by Terry Goodkind, set prior to the events of his Sword of Truth books. Abigail come to plead with the First Wizard to save her family from an early invasion of the D'Harans, but her mission does not go quite as she intends...
GRINNING MAN presents Davy Crockett as he never was, in Orson Scott Card's alternate America of the Tales of Alvin Maker. Crockett causes trouble for Alvin who, thanks to the young Arthur Stuart, learns an important lesson in distinguishing truly good acts from the disguises taken by evil acts like revenge.
THE SEVENTH SHRINE describes an event on Silverberg's own Majipoor, late in the reign of Valentine as Pontifex, the senior ruler of the giant planet. A strangely ritualistic murder during an archeological dig of an ancient alien city prompts Valentine to investigate.
DRAGONFLY revisits the wizards (and witches) of Earthsea in Le Guin's contribution. A local witch has detected some unidentified power in the girl Dragonfly but refuses to teach her any magic. Years later, the grown woman concocts a scheme with a visiting wizard to pass herself off as a man and study on Roke.
THE BURNING MAN is a story from Tad Williams' lands of Osten Ard, the setting of his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books. It is told by Breda, orphaned by one king and then adopted by another, and concerns first love, an occult rite and a difficult choice, all of which will burn in her mind forever.
THE HEDGE KNIGHT is an entertaining tale from the Seven Kingdoms of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Squire Dunk finds himself with a knighthood when his master dies, and decides to enter a local tourney to prove himself a champion.
THE RUNNER OF PERN is set, of course, on Anne McCaffrey's world. Tenna is the daughter of a long line of runners, message carriers for those who cannot use dragons to send their letters, and her story provides insights into yet another way of life on Pern.
THE WOOD BOY is a short tale from Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga and concerns Dirk, two dead bodies and a Lord's gold. Dirk's life is changed forever when his Lord's estate is occupied by the invading Tsurani, and changed again by treason, murder and revenge.
NEW SPRING describes how Lan met Moiraine as a prelude to Jordan's books of The Wheel of Time, answering the question of how he came to throw her into the freezing waters of a lake, and then become her Warder and join her twenty year quest to find the Dragon Reborn.
Before reading the collection, I had read books set in five of the eleven worlds presented, and I'm looking forward to further exploration of the other six. While writing good short fiction is difficult, writing good short fiction in a setting that's previously been described in the course of a number of novels must be even more difficult. Such a short story can't be treated merely as a chapter extracted from a novel, where storylines can be set up in earlier chapters and then concluded in later chapters, but I think that all of the authors met the challenge very well. Of course, many of them make their task a little easier by moving to a time before the events of any of their books, or to a setting that has not already been used, but the stories are still entertaining nonetheless. Possibly the only author to fall into the trap of providing too much background was Silverberg himself, though I'm still looking forward to reading the Majipoor books. Even those authors noted for writing huge individual works --- such as Robert Jordan, whose seven Wheel of Time books total over 4500 pages, constituting a single, continuous story --- managed complete pieces in eighty pages or less.
Coming at this from the point of view of a Pratchett fan, I can also recommend AFTER THE KING: STORIES IN HONOR OF J. R. R. TOLKIEN (Tor) and THE WIZARDS OF ODD (Ace).
My favorites were the ones by King, Williams, Silverberg, Feist, and McCaffrey. I have lost all interest in Terry Goodkind mostly because I find his characters to be wooden and uninteresting, and this story was no more compelling than the last book of his that I read. Goodkind also has a penchant for the "gotcha" ending, something that is frustrating to any reader who struggles to find logical connections between events and character motivation.
The best of this book, however, is The Hedge Knight by George R. R. Martin. I had never heard of Martin when I picked up Legends, and the first thing I did after finishing The Hedge Knight was to go pick up his novel "A Game of Thrones." Thanks to this book, I am now a fan of what may be the best epic fantasy series ever written, and yes, that includes Tolkien, Goodkind, and Jordan. The Hedge Knight is a simple tale of a young man recently knighted trying to make a name for himself in a tournament. The plain and honest style of Martin's prose hooks you in, and suddenly you care very deeply about this hedge knight, Dunk, and what is to become of him as he runs afoul of a vain and dangerous prince. Set approximately 100 years prior to the events that begin in "A Game of Thrones," this tale is a wonderful introduction to Martin's Westeros and the rich mythology and history he has built into it.
I was also intrigued by Feist's The Wood Boy, a tale that, for all it's positioning and setting as a chapter in a tale of strange alien invaders, is about nothing more complex than human nature and the compulsions that make us what we are as a species. Silverberg's Majipoor is also a very intriguing world, and I will be investigating it in the future.
Terry Pratchett's entry is also a key one, showing that not all fantasy need to be deadly serious or take itself very seriously at all. Pratchett almost recalls Douglas Adams' contributions to Science Fiction.
I think most Fantasy fans will be very happy with this book, largely becuase it is not a one-trick pony. There's something in here for every fan of the genre. Are you into fantastic worlds of extremes and mythology? Try Majipoor. Do you like to read tales that chill you and freeze your blood? The little sisters of Eluria are your ticket. Curious about an America that might have been? Orson Scott Card is yor man. Into knights and jousting, intrigue and politics? Martin and Jordan are for you. You can hardly go wrong buying this book, because if even one of the stories catches your interest, there's a new author for you to love. Thank you, Robert Silverberg.
I do not care for the Dark Tower series, so I did not read that one.
Feist's tale of the Riftwar was exceedingly predictable, and could have been set in any fantasy world. He could have done something besides mention the Tsurani to make it seem unique to the Kingdom of the Isles.
George R. R. Martin's "The Hedge Knight" is by far the best story in the book, and his Song of Ice and Fire series might turn out to be the best fantasy series ever written. The first two books are incredible.
Terry Pratchett's story about Granny Weatherwax was so funny, I now own every Discworld book so far, and I've pre-ordered the next one from Amazon.co.uk .
Aside from skipping King's story, and the disappointment of Feist's (still decent) story, everything was wonderful. Definetly a must have.