I can't say I cared much for this collection of short stories in the heroic fantasy genre--and I like that subgenre. As a teen, I loved the Tomoe Gozen books by editor Jessica Amanda Salmonson, based on a historical female Samurai. And I very much loved her two Amazon anthologies, which I reread recently and felt held up well. They were groundbreaking given that pre-Buffy there weren't all that many strong action-oriented heroines in fantasy. Maybe it helped in a strange way that she might have had less to choose from and so less ability to get stories to her tastes. Although I did think there were some clunkers in the Amazon anthologies (such as "Rape Patrol") by and large the stories were colorful and very enjoyable. But with this lot, I came to feel dread whenever Salmonson gave out high praise to a story in her introductions. Especially when she would praise a story for its literary merits and scorn "escapism." It's not that I'm not for literary quality--but not at the expense of story or an exercise in... well pretentious twaddle. I was repulsed by Kushner's "Lazarus," nonplussed by Ligotti's "Masquerade of a Dead Soul" found Jody Scott's "Honor" self-indulgent and was decidedly unamused by Bieler's "Cohen the Clam-killer." I wasn't much taken with Wellman's pulp story "The Slaughter of the Gods" either. That makes five out of the 13 I actively disliked--more than a third. Nor were there any stories I'd consider memorable, moving, outstanding stories. My favorites were Michael Bishop's "Voices" and Avram Davidson's "The Head of Shemesh the Eshurian." I rather liked Jessica Amanda Salmonson's own "The Lingering Minstrel" even if I think it's in rather poor taste to include your own story in an anthology you're editing. But were the stories I did like strong enough I intend to keep this book on my limited shelf space? No.