Ok so I have FINALLY started to catch up on my reading. After apx 200 hours spent on an ambulance or in a fire station I desperately needed the reading time. One of the books that got me through the epic shift of crazy was Epic: Legends of Fantasy edited by John Joseph Adams. It is a short story collection featuring authors who have set these stories in their previously written epic, sweeping worlds and it hit the spot. Here are a few of my favorite. As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Alchemist by Paolo Bacciglupi - This was a complete story with a beginning, middle and end...which is usually very hard to do in a short story format. The story is about a man who risks everything to save his small family. When he comes up with a solution to save his world, it is taken by the government and used to control what is left of the population. The world was inventive and complete, the characters detailed and realistic and the story was both entertaining and nuanced. I loved every page of this story and am now inspired to pick up a book by this guy as I have never read him before...I love it when that happens.
The Road to Levinshire by Patrick Rothfuss - This story set in a world I now want to go read about is both sad and very very good. It shows what happens when people make assumptions, especially about whole groups of people. There is trauma, violence and hopefully a change of thinking when a man goes through some pretty extreme measures to change peoples perspective on pre conceived notions. This is a story of ideas, which I always find the short story format is perfect for. This is another author I am now going to look up.
Bound Man by Mary Robinette Kowal - Two different worlds and two different times define this story. A warrior woman is called from her time and world against her will by a man who considers her a god. She goes through many emotions trying to figure out why everything happened the way it did. I love stories like this that essentially turn inside out on themselves. The contrast between the two characters, what they knew and how they felt about the current situation made for plenty to think about and was a fantastic read.
The Mystery Knight by George R. R. Martin - At this point I am sure the majority of fantasy fans have at least heard of The Song of Ice and Fire series and this entry into that universe is pretty much perfect. It sets the story in a bit of history of the world of the Seven Kingdoms, but it is not required for a person to have read the series to enjoy it. It is the quintessential jousting tournament/wedding/knights tale that seems to be the basis for what one would consider "classical" fantasy and it delivers every bit of castlely goodness one could want.