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Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress XXII by Elisabeth Waters (Editor)
Review by Paige Roberts
Norilana Books  ISBN/ITEM#: 1934169900
Date: November 2007

Links: Publisher's Page / Show Official Info /

I've been reading Sword and Sorceress since the first volume, and I have found the stories unfailingly high in quality. Each story I have read over the last twenty-two years, chosen by the grand-mistress of fantasy, Marion Zimmer Bradley, has been original, fresh, and emotionally moving, whether to chuckles, edge of the seat adrenaline rushes, or tears. Elizabeth Waters has continued that tradition of magnificent stories since MZB's passing with not the slightest dip in editorial excellence. This book's representation of the feminine side of sword and sorcery re-defines the edges of the genre. It challenges the reader to think about a lot of societal assumptions, without being preachy or dogmatic. This particular volume seemed to have an underlying theme of the consequences of unconventional choices; the cost of the road not taken.

"Edra's Arrow" by Esther Friesner:
A young hunter knows full well that there are consequences to choosing a non-traditional path, but her starving people and the ghost of a dead shaman teach her that there are consequences to not choosing one as well.

"A Nose for Trouble" by Patricia B. Cirone:
A young apprentice fortune-teller, well-acquainted with the tricks of the trade, nearly witnesses a murder, and has to deal with an actual dead man's demand for justice.

"Night Watches" by Catherine Soto:
Brother and sister mercenaries and their rather odd cats deal with assassins before breakfast, but a sexy demon proves to be a bit more difficult.

"Vanishing Village" by Margaret L. Carter:
When a whole village disappears, along with the Duke's son, two young sorceresses in the Duke's employ find a tempting trap with magical bait almost too sweet to ignore.

"Pearl of Fire" by Deobrah J. Ross:
A young woman takes on a magical talisman that keeps her family safe, but must give up her truest self and her only chance at love to keep it. Giving it away could prove to be the worst mistake of all.

"The Ironwood Box" by Kimberly L. Maughan:
Three young princesses hide who they are to escape a bloody coup. The youngest is certain that her lack of magic is caused her parents' deaths. The real answers lie inside a box she's forbidden to open that haunts her dreams.

"Bearing Shadows" by Dave Smeds:
Aerise lost her two babes to fever and is overwhelmed with joy to find herself pregnant again. Little does she know that the child growing inside her will destroy her life. But perhaps, with the help of a cursed enemy who lives half his life in the world of dreams, she can get it back.

"Black Ghost, Red Ghost" by Jonathan Moeller:
Caina is one of the king's ghosts, an elite assassin trained to find the truth, and sent to kill the man responsible for a slavery ring. She nearly finds death herself, if not for the aid of an unexpected scarlet ally.

"The Decisive Princess" by Catherine Mintz:
A king teaches his daughter how to rule, but decides she must give up the man she loves and force him to choose between an ugly death or marriage to another woman. She makes her own choice.

"Child of the Father" by Alanna Morland:
Each year, a demon god and his priests choose any woman or even girl that they want to be their toys. They bite off more than they can chew when they kidnap a swordswoman's child, drawing the wrath of her sorceress aunt and her lover, the child of the demon god himself.

"Child of Ice, Child of Flame" by Marian Allen:
A swordswoman wins an honorable duel and seeks her reward. A blind six-year-old boy is certainly not the reward she expected.

"Skin and Bones" by Heather Rose Jones:
Shape-shifter Asholi seeks the hidden others of her kind. She finds a village with a secret related to the man who be-spells animal skins to give them the gift of shifting. When her beloved disappears, she must solve the riddle or lose what matters most.

"Crosswort Puzzle" by Michael Spence and Elizabeth Waters:
A student in a college of magic working part time in the records department makes a mistake and allows a deadly shipment of herbs to go to the royal palace kitchens. She and her friends must find the culprit behind the shipment and keep the entire royal guard from being poisoned.

"Fairy Debt" by T. Borregaard:
Cups has to pay back a life debt to an ordinary, unbeautiful but rather nice princess in order to get her wings. But how can she possibly manage to save a princess from a dragon when her only magic is making baked goods taste better?

"Tontine" by Robert E. Vardeman:
An old commander, the last survivor of her group of five friends, drinks a glass to the memory of each of her lost comrades, and experiences their last moments on earth.

"The Menagerie" by Sarah Dozier:
At the request of a child, the famous assassin, the black panther, finds a unique and amusing way to end a bloody war.

All together an incredibly enjoyable collection. For anyone who has any passion for the sword and sorcery genre, this is a must-read.

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