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Lace and Blade 2
Edited by Deborah J. Ross
Review by Carolyn Frank
Leda  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781934648995
Date: 14 February 2008 / Show Official Info /

This anthology of romantic fantasy, Lace and Blade 2, is the second selection of tales on the topic of love in faintly medieval settings. The stories are set in places and times where the weapon of choice is the sword and/or dagger. Such weapons have the characteristic that the wielder must be close to the opponent, and that skill/experience with the blade does matter. As human relationships also require that the parties involved be close and that skill/experience does make a difference, the combination of love and blades is a match to be enjoyed in many highly diverse ways.

In "More in Sorrow" by Rosemary Hawley Jarman, Captain Rudek Palzani is caught in a triangle with his love Michalla and her ancient enemy, Luce. Luce has an ancient sword that intrigues and lures Rudek, but Michalla has caught Rudek's eye with a display of her sword-fighting techniques. In a time and place where military strategy can overcome brute force, knowledge can overcome wizardry, and love can conquer all.

In "The Pillow Boy of General Shu" by Daniel Fox, General Shu is the effective chief of logistics for an army chasing a boy-emperor out of a demon-infested version of medieval China. At the house of a governor general who had refused to concede and been tortured to death by the army, General Shu finds a young male servant, Shen. General Shu, who has never thought of love, is thrilled to find it with Shen, but he knows that nothing comes for free, there is always a price.

In "The Sixth String" by Elizabeth Waters, Jia, the childless Empress, is a master of the qin, an ancient Chinese musical instrument similar to a lute. Although the Emperor chose Jia to be his bride, he now has 3014 concubines, and the power of the mistress of the concubines would only become greater if any one of them has a male child. To win the Emperor back to her bed to hopefully father a prince, Jia must enhance every ability she has and play to win.

In "Writ of Exception" by Madeleine E. Robins, two leading families have planned to marry their children for the express purpose of combining the wealth and properties. When the son dies unexpectedly, the two sets of parents obtain a writ of exception to marry the two daughters to each other instead. As neither daughter wants anything to do with this arrangement, they agree to run away together. During their escape effort, a gallant stranger comes to their rescue, defending them with both his guile and his staff. Ultimately he brings them to an understanding of how everyone can make this situation work to their advantage.

Although each of these twelve tales involve a romantic element, not all actually involve blades, or even any sort of physical battle. But all do include some sort of fantastic element, not of our world today or even our world six hundred years ago. This is the movie version of a medieval world, no dirt or disease, no poverty or starvation, just well-fed well-dressed mostly upper-class folk finding their way to romance or love or happiness. If you are in a romantic mood, or even just wish to get into one, some of these fantasies should delight your heart.

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