Myriad Lands: Volume 2: Beyond the Edge

By David R. Stokes

Rating: 3 stars

Like the first volume, this anthology tries to have a diverse set of voices and non-traditional settings, to try and widen the field for everybody. To be honest, I don’t think this volume succeeded as much as its predecessor. I think this may be because this contains stories set in secondary worlds, where there’s not a direct connection to place to help give a sense of setting.

This collection also felt darker than its predecessor, with stories like The Rounds (although that is lightened by its dark humour); Hollow, about the hopeless fight of “whole” men against the “hollow” men; and the, to me, incomprehensible Night Child, which couldn’t seem to make up its mind who its protagonist was and seemed to be lifted directly from some larger work, and felt incomplete to me. Against this, there are some gems including Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Language of Flowers involving an assassins’ guild with a horticultural bent; Tanith Lee’s I Bring You Forever which was a beautiful read; and (my personal favourite in the collection), God-Daughter by Melissa Mead which is a fun little story about a previously absent father coming into his daughter’s life and a lovely way to close the collection, leaving a smile on my face.

So, to me, not as strong as its predecessor but still a lot of good stories (if many of them too dark for my tastes – although they’re not necessarily all dark in their own right, it’s just that too many in a row starts to wear heavily).

Book details

ISBN: 9781911486084
Publisher: Guardbridge Books

Myriad Lands: Volume 1: Around the World

By David R. Stokes

Rating: 4 stars

I found this collection of fantasy short stories at a convention, and was intrigued at its premise of a diverse set of authors telling stories not necessarily inspired by traditional Western history, and not limited to the traditional faux-medieval setting. The book had a high hit rate for me, and with Firestarter a story that really felt like it could be expanded into a full novel – I want to know more about both these characters and the world they inhabit. Other stories that really clicked with me are Ascension about a monk’s journey to enlightenment; The Music Maker about a young woman whose attempt to leave a mark doesn’t turn out as she’d hoped; The Pride of Kutush, telling of a young hunter sent to retrieve a stolen god; and The Beauty of the Dance in which music and magic are tightly intertwined.

There were some that I didn’t really get and some that were good but a bit dark for my tastes, but in all I’ve got to congratulate the editor on the choice and range of stories in the volume.

Book details

ISBN: 9781911486046
Publisher: Guardbridge Books
Year of publication: 2016

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