Lord Dunsany is one of those writers who genuinely deserves the description "master of his art". Without a shadow of a doubt, he was one of the great workers in the field of the fantastic, as shown by the praises heaped on his work by fellow authors ever since (from W. B. Yeats, Lovecraft and Arthur C. Clarke to Dave Duncan, Neil Gaiman, David Drake etc. today). Yeats, who knew him - his home was at 12th century Dunsany Castle in Meath, Ireland, - even published a Dunsany collection ! Many have been inspired by him but none have ever matched his unique style - his use of language is wonderful. In his day, the 18th Baron of Dunsany was prolific (short stories, novels, plays, essays, poetry, autobiography ...) and popular but with the vagaries of publishing, has often been hard to find in recent times. Today, however, several of his works are freshly in print.
This volume, which collects six of the outstanding early books of Dunsany short stories, is a treasure (the only pity is that a hardback version isn't available for the long term, because this is a real keeper). The stories are beautifully written, the imagery wonderful; there are truly amazing scenes, awe-inspiring, mythical, humourous or just plain bizarre. In "The Gods of Pegana" is one of the tiny number of successful artificial mythologies, which leads into "Time and the Gods". "The Sword of Welleran" is another great selection, including the story of the title, "The Fall of Babbulkund" and the first class "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save For Sacnoth". Each of the other collections also has its stars, including gems like "Idle Days on the Yann", "Carcassonne", "The Hoard of the Gibbelins" and "The Exiles' Club".
I could go on but there really is only one answer - buy this book. Afterwards, try "The King of Elfland's Daughter" and "The Charwoman's Shadow" for more brilliance. And keep your eyes peeled for hardcover originals or reprints, maybe even with the outstanding illustrations by Sidney Sime.
For more on Dunsany, try the many websites, check your library, or, if in Ireland, visit Dunsany Castle, where you can view Lord Dunsany's library and talk with his family.