The Book of Swords by Gardner Dozois (Editor)

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“From now on, if you wanted to tell those kinds of stories, you were going to have to have to do it in fantasy.”

— Gardner Dozois, The Book of Swords

    I’ve always thought that short stories were so much more harder for authors to nail. To be able to compress a whole narrative within 30 to 100 pages seemed like a task only a God could manage. Only a few authors are able to find an idea, foreshadow it and deliver a stunning ending that will make you realize just how clever those last couple of pages were. In fact, being able to deliver a clever narrative is what I also look for in all my stories, whether they are long or short. The Book of Swords is my first venture into the world of anthologies and I can tell you all that this was such a splendid experience. I won’t be reviewing each story one by one—which would be a bloody crazy idea with the number of authors featured and the number of things I might or might not be able to say about them—but this compilation of short stories was a fantastic break of the usual long and traditional literature that I’m used to embrace. I’m pretty glad to have read this one as it opened me to the idea of always having an anthology, or even short stories, ready on my bookshelves to pick up whenever I’m looking for something short and sweet to indulge.

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    One of the biggest reasons why I made this new release my first anthology lies in the featured authors. Over the past years I’ve been adding books to my list left and right with a crazy desire to read them all as soon as possible. A lot of the authors I’d add would have had written at least one major title or series that had gained a huge fan base and a lot of attention by readers. Thanks to Gardner Dozois, I was able to have my first glimpse into the writing style of so many of those authors I’ve always wanted to check out. Without naming them all, authors like Robin Hobb, Garth Nix and even George R.R. Martin were some of the writers that I was simply excited to check out. Yes, as unusual as it may be, George R.R. Martin’s short story The Songs of the Dragon is my first look at what he was all about. But the best part of this anthology isn’t just that it had some amazing writers in it, but because it made me discover some authors that I hadn’t heard of before. Gardner Dozois, the editor behind this anthology, starts every short story off by giving us a short and sweet biography of the authors and their most-known books and this really helped me increase my list of books to read exponentially. Thank you, Gardner Dozois.

    The Book of Swords is a return in force of a genre that had died down over the years that used to be called “Sword & Sorcery”. Essentially it refers to a fantasy subgenre that features swords, action and a little bit of magic and romance. In Gardner Dozois introduction he does an interesting overlook of how fantasy evolved ever since he first discovered “Sword & Sorcery” as a kid and reflects on the influence of some of the huge players of the game, notably J.R.R. Tolkien. Throughout these 12 stories, you’ll often run across a sword in some shape or form that’ll play a pretty important role. Each author brings forth an interesting twist to how they convey their story. But as you’d expect from a lot of anthologies, there are fantastic stories and there are dull stories. I’ve come across a couple of them where the characters felt like cardboard character and others that simply had no personality to them. Other stories delivered a richly developed world oozing with details, while others were much character-oriented and focused on their development within the short amount of time. It’s this possibility of exploring so many different styles and ways to tell a story within one book that made this anthology that much fascinating for me.

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    It’s probably hard to tell anyone if this is worth purchasing or not since my own experience with anthologies resumes to this volume. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed The Book of Swords and would recommend any fantasy lovers to pick it up to explore new authors or to get an extra dose of their favourite authors creativity. Some of these stories are even set in their author’s favourite worlds. While publicity-wise the book relies on the fact that there’s a Game of Thrones story that’s included in it (one that felt more like a filler than a must-read), it ain’t so bad considering that you get to read from authors like Robin Hobb and Scott Lynch (the latter being an author I absolutely love for his Gentleman Bastard’s series). Honestly, this anthology felt like a cheat meal by giving us this hugely assorted meals in a buffet style where you don’t even need to read the stories in a particular order. I guess this anthology simply served as an excellent beginning to my adventures in the world of short stories. Fans of any of these authors who are just twiddling their thumbs until their author’s next big release will find comfort in The Book of Swords. What are you waiting for?


THANK YOU TO PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA FOR SENDING ME A COPY FOR REVIEW!

Are you interested in The Book of Swords?
How about you read this book for yourself!
You can purchase your copy @Amazon Canada or @Chapters Indigo now!

The Book of Swords came out on October 10th, 2017!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section below and follow us for more content!

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆/

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36 thoughts on “The Book of Swords by Gardner Dozois (Editor)

  1. Bookstooge says:

    I don’t think I’ve read an Anthology in years. While collections of short stories can really work for me, I need them all by the same author. The potluck in an anthology has yet to really work for me. And when you throw in the fact of already established universes that I know nothing about, I end up feeling like the cousin nobody talks about, ie, awkward and out of place.

    I do hope you were able to weed out some authors, as that will spare you hours and hours of having to wade through their novels 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I honestly don’t even know what anthologies I should hunt for now. They’re definitely less “praised” and “sought after” nowadays; it’s what it feels like anyways. But you do make an interesting point about feeling out of place. I sort of went into them looking at them as if they were a taste of what I could get into later on if the story succeeds in intriguing me. But fans who know what the universe of these authors are like will surely enjoy this even more than I did, that’s for sure.

      Definitely. While it did make me discover some that I didn’t know about, it also showed me the authors that I could stay away from for now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. susyscozyworld says:

    I’m not a big fan of short stories book, with some happy exception, but sometimes I like to read them because they are a great way to discover new authors or new series (I can’t ever get enough series to read!) or sometimes they are a great way to read something of an author you love. And I didn’t know about this book but the name of Robin Hobb and Scott Lynch are too much to stand, and I have to read it now!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahaha! Exactly! I was glad to be able to discover new authors the easy way (short stories instead of huge 1000 page fantasy stories). It was also excellent because it let me read more from Scott Lynch who doesn’t exactly publish books every year! 😛 I hope you enjoy this if you ever decide to pick it up! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LizScanlon says:

    I do love me some short stories every now and again and I have to say, this anthology seems like a must read for fantasy lovers. Funny- I’ve read all sorts of short stories, etc but none that I could categorize as fantasy so that would be a new venture for me as well… Nice one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Inge | The Belgian Reviewer says:

    You’re so right, this is a great way to get to know new authors and to explore the authors you already added so you can decide on the order of reading their different books. I wouldn’t normally grab a short story myself because I don’t always have faith in their ability to deliver a satisfying story ending in 50 pages, or when they do I want the story to be longer ;-), but I really appreciate your reasons, it would be great to stumble upon some other great writers that you’d normally miss. I can’t really comment on Anthology, I have never read anything like this nor do I really want to, but I’m happy to hear you liked it and was a good introduction for you into this genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Exactly! With my super slow reading speed, these anthologies to help me decide who I should check out and explore next for sure. I feared the same thing as you before I started this anthology. But going into an anthology felt so much more safer cause.. out of 12 stories, I was pretty sure at least ONE would do a wonderful job in writing up an awesome short story! 😛 Thank you so much for reading, Inge!
      P.S. Wow… It must have been forever since I had the chance to drop by your blog!!! I feel so bad. Hope you’ve been reading some outstanding thrillers over the past month, Inge!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          Hahaah oh nooo, don’t worry about it. I like to go through all the posts I’ve missed. I don’t do this with other bloggers with whom I don’t feel like they honestly appreciate my content too hahah It’s always a pleasure for me to see what you’ve been up to and all the recommendations you’ve got for us too. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  5. lostartofreadingblog says:

    I have been wanting to try out an anthology for quite some time. I don’t usually like short stories, but I thought that maybe if it was a blend of authors, I might get along with it better. My theory was that if I didn’t like one of the writing styles then I could move on to another author.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    I cannot believe this is your first anthology! They are so hit and miss with me. Stoked to see you started with a proper intro. Short story collections are very rewarding when done well, but as you mentioned, hard to nail with such limited time. That is quite the list of authors boasted. I see Scott Lynch there 😉 I will be adding this to my TBR for sure. I am excited that it is Sword and Sorcery!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahaha before this, I never really even thought about picking up anthologies out of fear that I wouldn’t understand them contextually or even be able to pick an anthology that had stories I liked. You’re definitely one of those rare bloggers who have read a nice amount of short stories and know their awesomeness though. I still have a couple of your recs on my TBR, but man, if you got some anthologies that MUST be read, I’m all ears! And yesss!!! You got to pick it up just for Lynch’s short story. 😛 I’m surprised to hear someone who knows what Sword and Sorcery is! 😮 I honestly never heard of it before the editor mentioned it in his introduction. Thanks for reading, Danielle! It’s always such a pleasure to see you around from time to time again! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Oh my gosh yes the featured authors on this list are amazing! I also rarely read short stories (though recently I’ve been trying to more) Sounds like a fun read- even if a lot of it is more filler than anything else. Also when you mentioned reading it while you wait for an author’s next work, my brain went *cough George R R Martin cough cough* 😉 Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    I actually found a fantasy series I love through reading a short story first! Though I’m not a fan of short stories at all, lol… I love the idea of checking out this anthology to check out a writer’s style and to see if their world is perhaps jam to your peanut butter! 🙂 While I have no desire to read Game of Thrones I would like to revisit some of the adult fantasy worlds without re-reading books I’ve already read! Great point and winning review Lashaan!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh, the irony! I can see why you don’t enjoy short stories, but they sure do have some nice perks for readers who are pretty new to a certain genre. What is this?! Someone who is repulsed by the mere thought of Game of Thrones?! 😀 Why is this? Oh, thank you, Dani! 🙂

      Like

  9. Zezee says:

    Am soooo excited to see your review of this book. It’s one I really want to read too because I prefer sword & sorcery fantasy stories. Also, I totally agree that anthologies are a great way to sample authors. That’s another reason why I want this. I’m always on the lookout for new-to-me fantasy authors to try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh, I realized that ever since you’ve been reading Hobbs and friends hahah I’m not surprised by your interest in this one, and it’s definitely something you should give a shot. You’ll surely discover some authors you never thought of checking out before. 😀 What it also did is confirm that I really need to jump onto the Hobbs (among others) bandwagon already!

      Like

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