Warriors 1 – edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
This is part (1/3) of a series of short story anthologies edited by two of the best known names in the business. The theme is obvious, and with no genre restriction, the implementation amounts to a reasonably wide ranging set of five 50 page shorts, and the 150 page novella from Mr Martin.
I bought this after reading Rogues; partly I wanted to do some more short story reading, and partly because I was still looking for more new authors, or new books from old authors – in both cases, at least new to me – to read and enjoy.
Joe Haldeman‘s Forever Bound is a snapshot of one recruit’s experiences in the early days of his call up and training, set somewhere inside the author’s Forever War type history. It’s not bad, but just seemed to be getting going when the ending arrived.
Tad Williams‘ And Ministers of Grace is a sci-fi assassin story that is a decent page turner. I thought that Williams handled the plot better than the dialogue, but I was intrigued enough to want to see a full length treatment of the world on show here.
Steven Saylor‘s The Eagle and the Rabbit is a historical encounter between a Roman slaver and Carthaginian prisoners. It portrays all too well the nasty, brutish, and short life of the warrior.
Robert Silverberg‘s Defenders of the Frontiers is about a garrison left to fend for itself. I thought it was the most polished, and the story that best fitted the format.
Cecilia Holland‘s King of Norway is the story with the most fighting, being a Viking tale with all the blood and guts you could wish for, and a well written, well imagined sea battle scene as its center piece. This was the only author in the book of whom I knew nothing before, and I was sufficiently impressed to want to read more of her material.
George R R Martin’s The Mystery Knight is set in the world of Game of Thrones, but before the events portrayed in the blockbuster series. His story in Rogues was very disappointing. Thankfully, this is much improved, with decent use of the extra space to develop some of the characters, and unfurl a plot twist or two. It involves a down on his luck knight trying to get back on his luck (and his horse) while stumbling into a wedding and celebratory tournament that are not what they seem. If you have never read Game of Thrones, this is a reasonable taster. But, don’t buy Warriors 1 just to get your hands on this story, unless you are keen to collect the lot. It’s a good story, but not that good.
Conclusion: apart from following up that Cecilia Holland lead, I must sit down one day and work out what the gaps are in my Robert Silverberg reading. That guy can write. In terms of scoring this, I’d say it was around 7/10 as a package.