Sword of Chaos (Darkover® anthology)

Sword of Chaos - Marion Zimmer Bradley, Millea Kenin, Adrienne Martine-Barnes, Diana L. Paxson, Leslie L. Williams, Elisabeth Waters, Mary Frances Zambreno, Dorothy J. Heydt, Lynne Holdom, Phillip Wayne, Susan M. Shwartz, Patricia Shaw Mathews, Lynn Mimms, Terry Tafoya, Aly Parsons, Jan Marion Zimmer Bradley is famous for her Avalon books, but I'm a fan of her Darkover stories, set in an original world and a blend of science fiction and fantasy. I was impressed on reread of the first Darkover short story anthology, The Keeper's Price--basically a collection of "fan fiction" by other authors based on MZB's world. Enough I ranked it just below five stars, and was tempted to give it full marks. Not that I would argue it's deathless literature, but as a Darkover fan I loved it, and was surprised how memorable the various stories were even decades after I first read it--there were some I remembered just from the title, and no story I didn't completely enjoy. This second collection, though still enjoyable, didn't impress me as much. The first seemed mostly taken from a contest, and perhaps that pushed the quality up. So many in the contents page seem the usual suspects. Besides two stories from MZB, Diana L. Paxson, Susan M. Shwartz, Elizabeth Waters and Patricia Matthews all appeared in the first volume and Bradley's "The Lesson of the Inn" and Paxson's "A Gift of Love" were sequels to stories in the previous anthology. Elizabeth Waters' contribution "Rebirth" was a sequel to the story just before, "Escape," by Leslie Williams. Which btw I'd consider the strongest, certainly most memorable story in the collection; short and chilling. I also really loved Jane Brae-Bedell's "Dark Lady," which had a fairy tale feel. But on the whole I'd say this collection had less high points, and quite a few I'd consider rather weak--at least compared to the last volume. I'd still recommend this to a Darkover fan, but with less enthusiasm than the first anthology.