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After the King: Stories in Honor of J. R. R. Tolkien Paperback – 2 Oct 2012

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In honor of the king 10 Oct. 2012
By E. A Solinas - Published on
Format: Paperback
J.R.R. Tolkien is the man who made the fantasy genre what it is today, so if you're gonna make an anthology honoring him, it better be GOOD. And for the most part, "After the King" succeeds wildly at that -- it has stories from some of the greats of fantasy/SF literature, with only a couple duds here and there.

Among the best are stories by Patricia McKillip, Charles de Lint, Peter S. Beagle, Andre Norton, Jane Yolen, Emma Bull and Terry Pratchett -- they spin out stories that are poetic and spellbinding, funny and haunting, evocative and magical. Their stories honor Tolkien by making brilliant use of language and fantastical worlds.

There are also some lesser but still wonderful stories by Harry Turtledove, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Karen Haber, Poul and Karen Anderson, Robert Silverberg and Judith Tarr. While not as gloriously memorable as the best stories, they are still really good stories, ranging from a delightfully cute story about a wizard with a new assistant to a rather uncomfortable SF story about the origins of a religion.

But despite those stories, there are also some duds -- Stephen R. Donaldson ("Reave the Just"... or "Reave the Supremely Uninteresting"), Gregory Benford and Barry N. Malzberg all seem to have totally missed out on the charm, magic and language.

The absolute worst: Dennis McKiernan's "Halfling House," which is basically devoted to McKiernan's Pysks and ripoff-hobbit Warrows, while also making fun of Tolkien's original hobbits. There's a strange plot about a TARDIS-like inn for tiny magical creatures, and a demonic opium den, and an incoherent ending where SOMETHING happens... it's just a mess.

Quick warning: do not buy this collection just because it says that the stories are "in honor" of Tolkien, because most of these stories bear no resemblance to Tolkien's work. There are some stories that remind you of Tolkien because of the exquisite language and the sense of wonder and mystery, but the settings and stories are very different.

Some are contemporary stories; some take place in the generic medieval settings, and some take place in specific medieval settings (complete with Viking names). Some are comedic, some tragic, some a combination of both. Several were thought-provoking and introspective. Some of them are pure fantasy, no fantasy, mildly fantasy-like, or bordering on sci-fi.

No, this collection should be read for the all-star lineup of fantasy writers that it includes -- some of these people are giants of the genre, and they know how to pay homage without copying Tolkien's trappings. I just wish that Neil Gaiman was in this.

"After the King" mostly lives up to its name -- we have a huge collection of excellent stories from wonderful authors, marred only by a few unmagical duds.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
At least three great stories. Nothing is less than good. 25 Feb. 2014
By Henry - Published on
Verified Purchase
If there is any interest:
Faith, In the Season of the Dressing of the Wells, and any other third favorite. This book is an unsung winner.
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