‘Dangerous Women’ is a story anthology that consists of 21 stories from which fans will probably be the most interested for one written by George R.R. Martin set in the Westeros world, around the two hundred years before the events described in ‘A Game of Thrones’ describing the Dance of the Dragons, the fierce war between two Targaryens over the Iron Throne.
And while the title of the collection suggests that the theme of included stories are women that make problems, threaten or destroy this is actually not entirely true.
Although reader on the anthology pages is going to meet all kinds of female protagonists that are far from being symbols of perfection or virtuous, most of them are characters that didn't want to leave their fate and lives to others...
What is characteristic of many anthologies especially in situations when they're of different genres - the unevenness of quality- happened in this case as well, resulting with a situation that some of the included stories are of exceptional quality, while there are some others that certainly are not of level that would be expected in such edition.
Also, the short stories as format are not popular with all the readers because they most of the times don't allow the full development of the characters and the reader often wonders why the author didn't made the effort to develop it into a book of novel length.
Personally I like to read short stories and I think that only the skillful writers succeed in this shorter form giving more than the others would manage to deliver on 200 or more pages.
It doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to read continuation or extended version of ‘Raisa Stepanova’ from Carrie Vaughn or Joe Abercrombie's ‘Some Desperado’ that among some others are the best stories in this collection.
Of course, understandable is publisher's decision to try selling few copies more by putting the world-famous name of George R.R. Martin, whose name is highlighted on the cover although besides editing, he wrote only one of its 21 stories.
But don't be afraid, this collection is not only about Martin's story, indeed even though I'm big fan of his works, in my opinion his story is the fourth or fifth ranked by quality, that means that this anthology is well-worth of reading.
on 15 May 2016
On first impressions, you rather get the impression that George R. R. Martin has been enlisted in this venture as at least part marketing tool. Well, it worked - that's why I bought it.
And so, what of the flagship story; George Martin's novella titled The Princess and the Queen, or the Blacks and the Greens? Well, let's just say that it isn't the highlight of this compendium. I'm not saying that it isn't good (definitely not), and it certainly does what it intends to, but it left me a little ... frustrated. It is written in the style of a transcript, and done well in this sense, but we cover such a rapid and intriguing period of history in just eighty pages, that it feels rather distant. In all honesty, the story relayed could command a lengthy trilogy in its own right, so eighty pages was never going to cut it. I finished the story wondering if this is what it's like reading a synopsis, and in some sense that gave me heart; I now know the shape of the story, but that only makes me want to read the full intoxicating version more. It turns out that the journey is more important than the destination.
Regardless, this is a must read for George R. R. Martin fans, of which I count myself one. I'm glad I picked it up, and I hope George gets the chance to write the full literary version one day. I will certainly pick that up.
But what of the other seven hundred pages? What of the other short story offerings? Well, frankly, they were brilliant.
I have never read a short story collection before, but this has whet my appetite. It was so refreshing to jump from genre to genre, highly enjoyable, and the fact that each tiny morsel had to cut its own literary arc meant that the reading pace left you gasping; you couldn't leave a story unfinished. I really enjoyed this book.
As you may imagine, a book titled Dangerous Women tends to chronicle the activities of women with a talent for trouble; which I find refreshing. However, since reading this, I have looked at a couple of reviews where people complained that the women were not 'warrior elves with hulking great swords and cleavage to pierce your eyes'; but is that really what you want? This collection of stories gives a much wider sphere of female inertia, be it sultry, subtle, or downright kick-ass. There is certainly something for everyone in here, but if you're looking for a single blueprint, you won't get it in every story. But then, why are you buying a collection of short stories in the first place?
So - the highlights. I've had to think hard about this, but I think my favourite story in here is actually Megan Abbott's: My Heart is Either Broken. It is a story in the modern thriller genre, and the female lead cut a very subtle character. But when her claws were bared - and really only very subtly so - it was quite frankly chilling. It's not going to make me rush out and buy a load of psycho thrillers, but it was brilliant.
Closer to home, Brandon Sanderon's piece in here was a thorough delight. I have so far failed to indulge in Brandon's work (though it's definitely on my unwritten list), so I was pleased to get into something of his here. It was modern fantasy at its quintessential best - dark, with great characters, rugged surroundings, and a wonderful definition of the good stuff (magic). This has only served to expedite Brandon's place up my list.
And then, in the magical modern genre, two pieces that particularly stuck out for me are Jim Butcher's Bombshells, and Lies my mother told me, by Caroline Spector. Jim Butcher's work is in the Harry Dresden world, which I have also never delved into, and it was quite excellent. The protagonist had a very real sassy strength to her, and the ease with which Jim melded the mundane and the magical was delightful. Caroline Spector, on the other hand, writes about superheroes - but not as you know them. It's not something I'd ever considered reading before, with a quite incorrect assumption that superheroes came in broadly one flavour. But these unique superheroes (more like mutants) are very far from Marvel, and wonderfully complicated in their own right. My to read list is fleshing out nicely.
Finally, special mentions to other works that particularly tickled me (but in no way lessening the other stories that I very much enjoyed): Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughn, which is a quite brilliant short story about pilots in the second world war; The hands that are not there, a great sci-fi snippet that leaves you wondering; and of course, Joe Abercrombie's Some Desperado, which tells the story of Shy South, the star of Red Country - this is typical Abercrombie.
So, all in all, I highly recommend this book. Highly recommend it. Thanks Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin.
on 23 December 2013
I love short stories when done properly. Alas, this collection is not one of those times. When I first heard about Dangerous Women, I bought it as fast as I could - an anthology of kickass female characters in fiction AND another GRRM short story? Hell yes, I thought. However I've found most of the stories to be quite dry and uninteresting, and I've found it difficult to read a lot of them all the way through. It was also difficult to bond with any of the characters - they seemed to be two dimensional, with the writers unable to flesh them out quite enough in the pages allowed, with one or two in particular coming to conclusion without really reaching any sort of point and leaving me wondering what on earth I just read and why. Also there are two stories that focus on the stereotype of strippers with hidden agendas luring unsuspecting men into a trap, which doesn't really make me think 'dangerous women'. Melinda Snodgrass' story was one of them - wonderfully written as always, but a predictable premise. The Dance of Dragons short story came across as a summary of events, more of a wikia plot summary than the captivating story you'd expect, which I was really disappointed by.
Short version - there are one or two gems in here but sadly I didn't need to buy the entire tombstone to read them.
on 2 July 2015
Being an anthology obviously not every story will appeal to every reader, but after thoroughly loving almost every story in the similar 'Rogues' collection and being a huge fan of stories featuring interesting women, I was surprised by how frequently disappointed I was by this collection. The stories I liked, I loved - 'Some Desperado' was a great opener, and 'Raisa Stepanova', 'Bombshells', 'Neighbors', 'Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell', and 'The Girl in the Mirror' really stood out to me. I would have given this five stars if all the stories were as good, but I still say it's worth four stars for how good it can be.
There were a few stories that properly disappointed me, being less about 'dangerous women' and more about the men who wanted to have sex with said women, the tired old 'femme fatale' trope that I hoped this book would avoid - 'Wrestling Jesus' and 'I Know How to Pick 'Em' were particularly bad for this. 'Wrestling Jesus' bored me, frankly, and 'I Know How to Pick 'Em' made me put my Kindle down in disgust after finishing it. There's a persistent theme of sexual violence through a lot of the stories that bothered me.