I admit it. As both a writer and a reader, I’m a sucker for a good themed anthology. The writer in me loves responding creatively to a prompt, finding inspiration in the unexpected. The reader in me is always fascinated to see the range of tales a collection of talented, thoughtful authors can tease from a shared basic notion.
Journeys, an epic fantasy anthology, edited by Teresa Edgerton and published by Nathan Hystad’s imprint, Woodbridge Press, hits the cybershelves on February 15th. For fans of sword and sorcery, of legend and myth, of quests and creatures and unforeseen narrative twists, it is a strong, at times compelling collection of short fiction from fourteen accomplished authors. The theme for the anthology is fairly simple and broad enough to allow every contributor as much freedom as possible. As Hystad put it, “Though I was asking for a common trope, the genre could be… really any fantasy style, with a journey, quest, or adventure as the central premise.”
Great anthologies often bring together a mix of established authors, and writers who are just at the start of their professional careers. On the one hand, we have well-known artists who can be counted on to build on a long personal history of excellent storytelling. We also encounter, though, the fresh voice, the writer whose name is not yet familiar, but whose talent shines through in the most surprising ways. With Journeys, Teresa Edgerton has managed to strike such a balance, bringing together authors from the UK. and the US, some with long resumés, some with only a story or two to their credit.
Among the more established names, we find John Gwynne, who draws inspiration from Celtic legend in “The Sundering,” a story of love, betrayal, and vengeance. Gail Z. Martin, who on her own and with her husband, Larry N. Martin, has penned several series ranging from epic fantasy to steampunk to urban fantasy, gives us a tale set in the universe explored by her Fallen Kings Cycle. Adrian Tchaikovsky and Juliet E. McKenna, who have enjoyed success in the U.K. as well as the U.S., give us a pair of powerful narratives. Tchaikovsky’s “The World Wound,” follows rivals who must work together to heal a rift in the fabric of the world that threatens the very existence of humanity. McKenna, in “The Road to Hadrumal,” has returned to one of her own previously explored worlds to craft a story of magic and hope.
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