Picking up that book turned out to be a bit more of an endeavor than I first anticipated. If nothing else, I learned that even if I’m reading something like an anthology that I really shouldn’t split my attention between two books. Makes it harder to stay invested in either.
But I digress!
Let’s do this properly:
If you’re a fan of fiction that is more than just black and white, this latest story collection from #1 New York Times bestselling author George R.R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois is filled with subtle shades of gray. Twenty-one all-original stories, by an all-star list of contributors, will delight and astonish you in equal measure with their cunning twists and dazzling reversals. And George R.R. Martin himself offers a brand-new A Game of Thrones tale chronicling one of the biggest rogues in the entire history of Ice and Fire.
Follow along with the likes of Gillian Flynn, Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Cherie Priest, Garth Nix, and Connie Willis, as well as other masters of literary sleight-of-hand, in this rogues gallery of stories that will plunder your heart—and yet leave you all the richer for it.
As a reminder, you can find my reviews of all 21 stories by searching the “Rogues” tag, so I’m not going to go into reviews of individual stories here. Instead, I’m going to focus this review on answering the question: Is it worth picking up, given the “your mileage may vary” nature of such anthologies.
Short answer: yes.
There’s good variety: fantasy, thriller, mysteries and even some light sci-fi. I’d say that the content is about 50% fantasy and 50% other genres. Given number of fantasy heavy hitters, it seems to be a fair split. The layout: that is the way the book alternates between fantasy and a non-fantasy piece is good. It makes sense and helps keep things interesting by not overwhelming you with all the fantasy in one go and encouraging you to read the others. I also think there are enough strong stories here that it does make up for some the clunkers and I see a lot of people wanting to check out the work of at least one other author after they’ve gotten through it.
If there any any downsides to this collection, I do wish it was a bit more obvious as to what genre each story was. I can see some people wanting to thumb through the book and only read certain stories. As it stands, you do need to read each summary and take your best guess as to whether or not the story will suit your tastes. My other big qualm is I wish that more of the stories were fully original, as opposed to stories set in previously existing worlds. While many of them you can get along just fine without having read the source books, you still inevitably lose something, and at the worst, you’ll be so lost as to just give up on it entirely.
Finally, here are my recommendations from the collection:
Verdict: Buy it