Red Slippers by Dennis McKiernan
Roc / Penguin Putnam HCVR: ISBN 0451459768 PubDate: 05/01/04
Review by Bill Lawhorn
480 pgs. List price $ 23.95
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The heroes sailed off into the sunset. Where did they go? That is a question that many readers have asked as they finish a book. Did the heroes go on to new adventures, die in a storm, or just give up life at sea? It is very difficult to make a story complete and tie up all the loose ends that are created during the course of the story. In Red Slippers: More Tales of Mithgar author Dennis L. McKiernan ties up a few of the loose ends from his prior Mithgar stories.
The Red Slipper is a tavern in the port of Arbalin. Inside the tavern the members of the crew of the elvenship Eroean sit and pass their shore leave by telling the tales. Most people can relate to the main characters as they sit around and share, having participated in a story circle each sharing a tale the others may not know. The small group each shares tales from the past and history of Mithgar. There are twelve interrelated short stories in this collection that span the whole of the world of Mithgar, from before the founding of the realm of Mithgar to the present of the storytellers.
Each of the land dwelling races on Mithgar are represented. Humans, elves, warrows, baeron, pysks, and dwarves each have tales to tell filling in the gaps of prior tales. One story tells why the Queens of Jute and rulers of Hyree fight the realm of Mithgar. Another tells how three warrows went to the dark tower to fulfill a promise made centuries before. There are tales of revenge and hardship, with people making sacrifices to save others. Throughout the assorted tales the heroes of Mithgar reappear. Questions about where the various races come from are also partially answered. Some of the endings are happy, while others end not as well.
To enjoy this collection you need to have read some of the assorted books of Mithgar. Knowledge of the occurrences in
The Iron Tower books: The Silver Call,
The Dragonstone, Voyage of the Fox Rider, Dragondoom,
The Eye of the Hunter, Silver Wolf, Black Falcon, and
Hél’s Cruicible make the stories of this collection easier to follow. Having read half of these novels I was able to easily follow most of the tales being told, because I understood the basics of the world of Mithgar. This is not a starter book, but it is a great companion to the full length novels. The tales that were related to the books that I have read, were a delightful addition that answered questions that I hadn’t even thought about, but once told made me think, “Oh yeah, I remember that, so that’s how it happened.”
The influence of Tolkien can be seen in the stories of Mithgar. You can see some similarities in the characters. But they are not just another rehashing of the same tale. They have their own unique flavor. Something you can curl up with on a dreary day to escape into another world and rejoin old friends.