The Way of the Wizard by John Joseph Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m going to preface this review by saying that I will review each of the 36 stories in the anthology. So it’ll take me a while to complete the entire review. But I did want to mark it as finished and move onto my next book :)
In The Lost Lands by George R. R. Martin - An excellent story from the master of mythology. The kind of tale that I can easily see as a small chapter in the next Song of Ice and Fire novel. The entire story was told with a sense of foreboding that came to fruition with the not-so-happy ending. I can only hope that GRRM has gotten the desire to leave his readers saddened out of his system before he finishes the Song of Ice and Fire series.
Family Tree by David Barr Kirtley - A decent story. The idea of the family tree being an actual, physical tree where the limbs died as a family line died out was unique. Probably not enough to base an entire story upon, but different enough to make this tale interesting in theory.
John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner by Susanna Clarke - A classic tale of an omnipotent king being bested by an unwitting peasant. A nice retelling, proving that even wizards fear power that is stronger than theirs.
Wizard’s Apprentice by Delia Sherman - Another good, quick read. A boy runs away from an abusive home and becomes apprentice to an evil wizard. It’s a tale of family, and what makes a family, that just happens to involve a wizard.
The Sorcerer Minus by Jeffrey Ford - A short tale of a terribly evil wizard who gets his two servants (a guy and a rat) to do his bidding. But when he gets the rat to get rid of the guy, things go wrong…
Life So Dear Or Peace So Sweet by C. C. Finlay - A good story that keeps you guessing. A witch and a warlock, in Revolutionary War times, are given the task of getting rid of pirates. Only the pirate is magical in his own right and his treasure is not what it seems…
Card Sharp by Rajan Khanna - Fantastic story! Magicians are given a deck of cards and the higher the suit, the more powerful the magic that can be cast. But once you're through your 52 cards, your magic is no more…
So Deep That the Bottom Could Not Be Seen by Genevieve Valentine - A morality story about global warming and taking care of the planet. Okay. The story focuses on the last Inuit Shaman as she’s brought to the United Nations for a delegation of magicians (real and fake) and how she comes into her own.
The Go-Slow by Nnedi Okorafor - Sucked. A Nigerian movie actor is stuck in traffic and he’s hunted by either shape-shifters or people controlling animals. I don’t really remember because it was horrendous.
Too Fatal a Poison by Krista Hoeppner Leahy - Excellent! The behind-the-scenes story of Elpenor from Homer’s “The Odyssey” and what happened to make him drink to excess and fall to his death.
Jamaica by Orson Scott Card - Not bad… But not great. A nice idea that fell apart when everything was was neatly and conveniently wrapped up on the last page. Just like the overrated “Ender’s Game” was wrapped up with one sentence “It’s not a simulation!”
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Robert Silverberg - A love story. I guess I’m not surprised that a love story had to pop up eventually. Not bad, but not great. At least the story of a young man trying to study wizardry wasn’t hampered by the portions of the tale that dealt with him being lovestruck by his mentor.
The Secret of Calling Rabbits by Wendy N. Wagner - Another crappy story. A dwarf meets a little girl and she wants to know how he can call rabbits. Then she’s older, or something, and dying. And he saves her, but ends up becoming a plant. Or something. Sucked.
The Wizards of Perfil by Kelly Link - Huh? I don’t know where to begin with this one. It was a confusing, jumbled mess. I was bored halfway through it and cannot tell you exactly why I didn’t like because, to this day, I still cannot begin to understand what the hell was happening during the story. The editor should have done a better job and axed this stinker.
How to Sell the Ponti Bridge by Neil Gaiman - I am actually going to level a “complaint” against a Neil Gaiman story… It was too short. I wanted more of the rogues, thieves, and connivers. This was one of the few stories that I would read a novel that expanded on the story.
The Magician and the Maid and Other Stories by Christie Yant - A good story. A woman is held prisoner in a library. The woman is also the main character of a fairytale called “The Magician and the Maid” which resides on the shelf in the library where she is trapped. Can she find her book and escape…
Winter Solstice by Mike Resnick - Another fantastic entry in a book that’s been all over the place in terms of quality. Another side to Merlin, the magician of Arthurian legend. This one concerns Merlin living backwards in time and fragility of his memories.
The Trader and the Slave by Cinda Williams Chima - Not a bad story. A powerful sorcerer hires a slave for a night, then buys her from her duplicitous, evil owner.
Cerile and the Journeyer by Adam-Troy Castro - Awesome! Very short, but amazing story about a man and his quest for an all-powerful sorceress, Cerile, who will bring him happiness.
Counting the Shapes by Yoon Ha Lee - Average, at best. A war of wizards. A family squabble. Math. The story is less than the sum of its parts, unfortunately.
Endgame by Lev Grossman - Great short story! Definitely makes me want to read “The Magicians” and its sequel. Wizards in training battle in an everyday environment. Nuff said.
Street Wizard by Simon R. Green - Better than I was expecting. A wizard works for London and keeps the streets clean and city peaceful. Based on his working hours, he’s also friends with prostitutes. More certainly, not the worst of this lot.
Mommy Issues of the Dead by T. A. Pratt - A wizard for hire gets caught in the middle of two magical brothers fighting over a powerful object. And things are not what they seem…
One Click Banishment by Jeremiah Tolbert - A fun read for me (wizards are computer programmers and the programs are spells) because of my experience in the IT field. The basis of the world created was interesting and really came together well. I did, however, feel the ending was ruined with the twist being brought up earlier in the story.
The Ereshkigal Working by Jonathan L. Howard - A powerful magician (Necromancer, actually) stops a zombie outbreak, started by a nemesis causing trouble. Would be an interesting read, if you’re familiar with Howard’s stories about said Necromancer. Otherwise, it’s…meh.
Feeding the Feral Children by David Farland - Pretty shitty. I wish I could remember more. I’m staring at the actual pages as I type this, and the story is still a blur of bad writing.
The Orange-Tree Sacrifice by Vylar Kaftan - The shortest of the stories, it’s brevity and ambiguity had me enrapt and wanting more. Enticing with so few words…
Love is the Spell That Casts Out Fear by Desirina Boskovich - Two tales of two Hannah’s (one in the real world, and one in a magical world) overlap without either of them knowing it. Pretty decent story.
El Regalo by Peter S. Beagle - Fantastic! Only the second piece of work that I’ve read by Beagle, it was a magical as “The Last Unicorn”. One of the longest stories, it felt short and was a quick read because it sucked you in and left you hurrying to get to the next page. The "twist" or "surprise" ending to the story was also done by one of the previous stories, but done better by Beagle.
The Word of Unbinding by Ursula K. Le Guin - Another great story. The hopelessness of the main character is palpable on every page. Similar to the cloying, winter wasteland in her classic novel “The Left Hand of Darkness”. The ending left me sad and happy at the same time.
The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria by John R. Fultz - A man who feels not part of our world is drawn to a book. Then a second. And a third. And each one takes him more and more away from our world and into Arthyria. Nice tale.
The Secret of the Blue Star by Marion Zimmer Bradley - An excellent story to close on. Wizards doing battle and trying to steal each other’s powers. The kind of story that I was hoping for more of when I bought the book. It successfully, and slowly, built up the mystery of the main character’s “secret” until revealing the unexpected truth at the end. Marvelous
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