Top critical review
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Pedestrian and random (warning slight spoiler)
on 13 June 2011
First of all, this is not a fantasy anthology, despite GRRM being associated with it. If you want one of those, go try Swords and Dark Magic. This is multi-genre - horror, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, with the common theme of being a "warrior" of some sort or other. This is pretty broadly defined, with everything from regular soldiers, to sea-reaving vikings, to the more exotic stuff (engineers, a psycho, a bureaucrat). The setting vary as greatly, from past, present and future, here and there, and our protagonists are all sorts of people.
Its alright, but not great. Sometimes the genre is not interesting to a particular reader (ie me, but perhaps something different for you) and some of the main characters are hard to cheer for. There is incest, murder, violence and suicide all on show. Sometimes its grin and bear it. Sometimes its wonder where the action is. There is a reason the book is called "Warriors" and not "War Stories". Often as not there is more - far more - talking than battle, and not always in a good way. If the collection had been titled "Lovers" it would have doubtless contained a bunch of old people sitting around in a retirement village musing on current events, with the odd reminiscence along the way (plus a little slash fanfic and something from the animal kingdom for variety).
I wont go through all the stories - I don't want to bore anyone to death with 20 mini-reviews. I will say that Silverberg wrote a good tale, Joe R Lansdale's story was the most fun, and GRRM's Dunk and Egg novella seemed to contain a lot of little nods to the main Ice and Fire series at the expense of developing the actual story being written, which kind of staggered along for a while and then fell in a heap, with a few bright moments along the way.
Lastly, for all that David Weber wrote a story about actual soldiers in wartime, and that it was real fun to read, he broke Hammer's Law * . The story was a fun soldiers v aliens romp, and then we end up with not just Vampires, but Dracula himself getting involved: that's not much of a spolier since the editor's intro puts you on notice that when the character is introduced you spend the rest of the story hoping it's a fake out, only to find its not. Somehow, the story survives, but really there must have been a better ending available somewhere.
*Named after the UK film company. "Don't borrow Dracula in print, it never works." With Dacre's corollary "Even if your last name is Stoker".