This is the third volume (out of 5, plus a companion volume of miscellaneous fiction) of Night Shade Book's collected works of Clark Ashton Smith (CAS). CAS wrote only short fiction - and often the shortest stories were the best of all. This volume contains stories set in Averoigne, Hyperborea, and other unnamed weird worlds, including our own. These stories are...well, not horror, but thrilling. In Stephen King's terms, CAS never went for the gross-out.
The stories are weird tales, or speculative fiction - a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, adventure, all told in a unique style. A number of stories in this volume are superb, but the names mean nothing, and there are too many to list the plots of each. The best stories are "fantasy" rather then "sci-fi" as a rule, but everything here is worth reading.
CAS creates superb imagery and his stories roil with life: even when little is objectively happening, how it is told is wonderful. Every word is evocative, carefully chosen, and has a cumulative effect when reading that creates immersion in the story for the reader.
"The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan" for example is only 8 or so pages long, but is a beatifully crafted little tale that has a wonderful, powerful ending. Even knowing the story will not end well, its a surprise and a shock.
This book is not for everyone, in the sense that it is an expensive hardback full of dense prose - it's a luxury good, of sorts. Having said that, everyone should read it, or at least the stories that CAS wrote.