Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Dangerous Women

edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois - 3 stars

A big, fat book of short stories (although not all of them feel that way, *cough* Virgins *cough*) from a variety of genres, as with any collection this one is something of a mixed bag and I'd argue that quite a few are barely about women, let alone dangerous ones.

Many of those included would appear to be side-trips in previously established worlds (some of which I'd read, and some I hadn't) and some were more successful than others at allowing the casual reader as much enjoyment as devoted fans. There are some 5 star stories in here, but the reasons above (as well my anal insistence on individually scoring and then working out the average) brought the whole down to a 3.

Starting out well with Some Desperado from Joe Abercombie (starring Red Country's Shy South who, like many an Abercrombie character, should never be underestimated even when outnumbered), other high points for me were Cecilia Holland's Nora's Song (probably as I'm still a little obsessed with the court of Henry II after Alison Weir's Eleanor of Aquitaine), Jim Butcher's Bombshells (though I should have got up to date with Harry as I found that he not only has a protege, Molly, but might have taken a turn for the dead. While worrying that this meant no more Bob either, I still enjoyed the ride which at least starred some kick-ass ladies), Megan Lindholm's Neighbors (not surprising as this is also Robin Hobb, who seems able to suck me in to whichever world she chooses), Shadows for Silence in The Forests of Hell from Brandon Sanderson (who shows as great a flair for character names as he does titles, and whose predatory forests and awesome bounty hunter posing as an inn landlady makes me eager to read more from him), Caroline Spector's Lies My Mother Told Me (set in the Wild Cards universe and not mattering that I'd barely read much of that world before) and, of course, George RR Martin's The Princess and The Queen (giving us a taste of Targaryen/Westeros history and awesomely featuring rather a lot of dragons, although I did get a little "Which Aegon is this, now?" at times and, although I am well aware that GRRM is not my bitch...

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...I still couldn't help wishing every now and then that I was reading about what's happening with them now).

On the other side of the coin, I've no idea what I thought Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series was about (I had vaguely sci-fi notions, I think), but I'd never have guessed it was 18th century Scots. Although it seems to have a hefty fan following, going by Virgins I won't be joining in. My enjoyment of Sharon Kay Penman's A Queen in Exile doesn't bode well for the copy of Here Be Dragons that's awaiting me on my shelves, and Lawrence Block's I Know How To Pick 'Em, with an incestuous mother and killer son, made me want to scrub my eyes in bleach to remove the taint.

Still, this was well worth a read even if not all its inclusions were my flavour, and it's already helped me find some new worlds to start spending time in (Amazon will be so pleased).

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