Amazons!

Amazons! - Emily Brontë, C.J. Cherryh, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Janet  Fox, Megan Lindholm, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Margaret St. Clair, Charles R. Saunders, T.J. Morgan, Janrae Frank, Michele Belling, Josephone Saxton, Tanith Lee, Andre Norton This collection of 13 fantasy stories centered on female heroes was groundbreaking in 1979 when it was published. I loved it when I discovered it in my teens--pre-Buffy, there were few stories of adventure with strong female heroines. This held up well. Indeed, the only story I didn't enjoy at all was the one with the most celebrated names--a piece of juvenalia by Emily Bronte edited by Joanna Russ. Russ is even one of the names featured on the cover, but she only contributes a precis of the story between excerpts of this Tolkenesque epic poem. The book also included stories Andre Norton and C.J. Cherryh. I've heard great things about both authors, who I haven't read outside the stories in this anthology--I'm afraid I found neither standouts. But enough stories did stand out to earn a fairly high rating: Janet Fox, "Morrien's Bitch" - The central female wasn't likable, but she sure was interesting--more anti-hero than heroine. Charles R. Saunders, "Agbewe's Sword" - I found Dossouye among the most likable characters in the book. And it was refreshing to read a fantasy based on an African culture rather than the usual faux European fantasy setting. Based enough on the real African civilization of Dohomey and its Amazons to be the one work of historical fiction in the book. Dossouye would also appear in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress, a series of anthologies that came closest to being Amazons! successor. All the more reason I found myself rather irked by Salmonson's rather condescending introduction to the story, which noted Saunders was the "token male" author in the anthology. Tanith Lee, "Northern Chess" - Lee, author of several works of fantasy and science fiction who boasts a gorgeous style was a favorite author of mine before I ever owned this anthology--and she didn't disappoint here. I loved this story of a lady knight. Elizabeth A. Lynn, "The Woman Who Loved the Moon" - the story closed the anthology, and it was a memorable finish. I loved the stories fairy tale quality.