An anthology of stories all featuring - you guessed it - rogues, while the entries within have been gathered from across a variety of genres, my favourites – Joe Abercrombie’s blistering opener, Tough Times Ahead (featuring not one, not two, not three, but a whole town of rogues), Scott Lynch’s A Year And A Day In Old Theradane, and Patrick Rothfuss’ The Lightning Tree – were all plucked from the fantasy branch of the bookstore.
While there were a fair few stories of a high standard featured – as well as my favourites there were other great entries from Neil Gaiman, Carrie Vaughn, Daniel Abraham and Bradley Denton (the only non-fantasy flavoured that really got me going) – there were also more than a couple of duds. It was another fantasy that really scraped the barrel here for me, in the form of Matthew Hughes’ The Inn Of The Seven Blessings which really should have been read aloud by Jemaine Clement in Gentleman Broncos ("This part of the forest had become uninhabited after Olverion's final misjudgment and the large predatory beasts that now roamed free had no compunctions against dining on wereflesh.")
Ending with a short tale from George RR Martin, as with all of the other anthologies he’s busy putting together instead of writing the end of a particular story, I’m starting to find that these enders are neither here nor there for me. Detailing the lives of past Targaryen’s in a dusty, dry style that’s nowhere near as visceral and involving as what I’ve previously inhaled of Westeros, I’m starting to find that I now give no shits whatsoever what might have happened to whichever Targaryen was the sister-marrying psycho in charge at the time.
So, while there were a couple of 5 starred stories in there (the three mentioned at the top), the majority of the 21 stories (2/3 of them, in fact) dragged the score down a couple of notches to a mostly entertained (but not always) 3.