Sword of Ice: And Other Tales of Valdemar (Daw Book Collectors)

Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar - Mercedes Lackey, Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Michelle Sagara West, Gary A. Braunbeck, John Helfer, Elisabeth Waters, Lawrence Schimel, Mark Shepherd, Janni Lee Simner, Richard Lee Byers, Josepha Sherman, Larry Dixon, John Yezeguielian, Mel White, Stephanie D. Sh As Lackey explained in her introduction, her very first sale was to one of the Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover anthologies. MZB is best known for her Avalon novels, but what I loved was her Darkover series, and in fact the very first story I read by Lackey was that short story in MZB's universe, ""A Different Kind of Courage." So it only seems natural that Lackey herself would host and anthology in her own created world, Valdemar. This has a bit of a different feel though. The Darkover anthologies did have more of a feel of fiction by fans. This anthology is more a collection of stories by writers--professional authors sharing Lackey's universe for a while. That doesn't necessarily raise the quality of stories. Some very talented writers sometimes write "fan fiction" for the love of it--and have the kind of ear and eye for the characters and the world that goes with the passion of a fan that few pros--even friends of the author who created it--can match. But none of the stories here are less than enjoyable, some I remembered after a few paragraphs even though it's been fifteen years since I bought and first read this. There are authors here who you can find in bookstores today as authors of fantasy novels of their own: Tanya Huff ("The Demon's Den"), Mickey Zucker Reichert ("A Herald's Honor"), Michelle Sagara West ("Choice"). And Lackey herself co-authored three of the stories. The stories aren't just from Valdemir, but from other corners of the world Lackey created: The Vale, Rethwellen, Mornedealth (Kethry's homeland), Karse. In fact one of my favorite stories was the one set in Mornedealth, Richard Lee Byers' "The Salamander," which left me wishing Lackey had explored that land more. And of the several stories set in Karse my favorite was Ben Ohlander's "Vkandis' Own," a fine work of military fantasy fans of Lackey's By the Sword should appreciate. Another standout for me was Gary A. Braunbeck's "A Song of No One's Mourning," which, while managing to fit perfectly into Lackey's world still managed to feel original. While I can't imagine recommending this to someone who doesn't already know and love Lackey's books, a fan of her series should find themselves very much enjoying this book.