Monday, January 28, 2008

A kinetic grab bag

"Realms Of War" is a kinetic grab bag of twelve war stories edited by Philip Athans. It is a cross of dark fantasy and old fashioned sword and sorcery fiction wrapped in the world of the Twilight War trilogy. If you haven't read these Forgotten Realms books before, you'll find that this collection both stands by itself as good reading and is compelling enough to make you want to dive into the Twilight War books by Paul S. Kemp.

Each of the stories in Realms of War is a quick thirty pages long and packed with bigger-than-life heroes, (mostly) pretty girls, exotic places, strange and mysterious villains. These are action stories loaded with magic and they don't disappoint. With settings across "all the lands 'twixt bustling Waterdeep and the sparkling waves of The Sea of Fallen Stars" you get to sample bit-sized pieces of the very best this world has to offer.

The very first story, Continuum by Paul S. Kemp, is magnificent. It's character's are very well developed and are expertly woven into their world. The blend of intrigue, magic and action is only topped by an ending that zings with a really appealing twist.

The other stories in the anthology are also very good, but a couple of them stand out. Changing Tides by Mel Odom has an undersea salvage operation, a titanic sea battle, fiercesome creatures seeking flesh (or simply meat as they call it) and a strange alliance of humans and magical creatures. Chase the Dark by Jaleigh Johnson takes the concept of battle, cause, effect and consequence to an entirely new level. Very well done!

"Realms Of War" is a fast, fun read and doesn't require having read the first two books in the Twilight War trilogy - Shadowbred and Shadowstorm - to slip into the action and enjoy the ride. After reading "Realms Of War", you'll probably find that you'll want to check out Shadowbred and Shadowstorm sometime before Shadowrealm is released later this year.

The stories in the anthology are:

Continuum, Paul S. Kemp
Weasel's Run, Lisa Smedman
The Last Paladin of Ilmater, Susan J. Morris
Black Arrow, Bruce R. Cordell
Too Many Princes, Ed Greenwood
The Siege of Zerith Hold, Jess Lebow
Mercy's Reward, Mark Sehestedt
Redemption, Elaine Cunningham
Changing Tides, Mel Odom
Chase the Dark, Jaleigh Johnson
Bones and Stones, R.A. Salvatore
Second Chance, Richard Lee Byers

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