Wizards: Magical Tales From the Masters of Modern Fantasy
by Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann (eds)
Edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois
Cover Artist: John Jude Palencar
Review by Colleen Cahill
Berkley Hardcover Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425215180
Date: 01 May 2007 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
From Merlin to Gandalf the Grey, wizards are a mainstay in fantasy literature, evoking a presence of power and secrecy. Even though there are many tales about sorcerers, there is still plenty of room to explore, as Jack Dann and Gardner Dozios demonstrate in their new anthology, Wizards. The collection gathers the work of both new and experienced writers, holding eighteen delightful pieces that show the many facets of magic users, easily proving that a beard, staff and robe are not required to be a magician.
The collection starts out with a touching story by Neil Gaiman, "The Witch's Headstone," where a young boy being raised in the land of the dead travels to the living world to complete an act of kindness, an act that could lead to his demise. Nancy Kress's hero also almost dies when he falls in the path of an oncoming car in "Stone Man"; he is only saved when rocks cover him, rocks he as unwittingly summoned. Young adults are the center of several stories, such as Garth Nix's "Holly and Iron" which blends several English legends around a young girl who is the only hope of uniting two warring peoples, as well as two forms of magic. In "Naming Day" by Patricia A. McKillip, Averil has to put off choosing her secret name for school when she spends the day chasing an old witch's wand she let loose. Terry Dowling's "The Magikkers" also has a magic school, but as Samuel learns on his Key Interview Day, it has a different purpose than turning out wizards. The collection ends with Orson Scott Card's novella "Stonefather," which is set in his Mithermages universe and follows Runnel as he strikes out on his own and tries to find a place in Mitherhome, a city with a dark secret that could mean ruin not just for Runnel but everyone.
Not all the stories in this book are about talented younglings. "The Manticore Spell" by Jeffery Ford follows one elderly wizard's obsession with the last manticore, as his apprentice slowly discovers what the price is for eternity. Some of the stories explore unusual magic, such as "The Stranger's Hands" by Tad Williams; people can get their fondest wish if a seemly witless man offers to shake their hand. In "Barrens Dancing," Peter S. Beagle presents a truly evil wizard who casts his spells by dancing. "A Diorama of the Infernal Regions, or The Devil's Ninth Question" is Andy Duncan's very American story of a woman who grows up in a freak show, steps into a diorama and ends up at a haunted house in California. A few of the stories will raise a grin: Eoin Colfer's storytelling avian in "A Fowl Tale" definitely brings new meaning to a shaggy dog, or should I say bird, tale. "Billy and the Wizard," by Terry Bisson, is a fun and disjointed look at a young boy who discovers the Wizard of Everything hiding in his garage. While there is a magician in every story, all of these are unique tales that reflect the ideas and spirit of their authors.
Wizards is an excellent collection. The wide range of interesting stories look at magic using from many different angles and with contributing authors like Gene Wolfe, Elizabeth Hand and Jane Yolen, you cannot lose. I highly recommend this anthology which will certainly have some of its stories up for award nominations.