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review 2017-02-07 00:21
Dangerous Women 1
Dangerous Women Vol. 1 - George R.R. Martin,Gardner Dozois

The first subdivision of the Dangerous Women anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois is a mix bag of both story quality and the interpretation of the phrase ‘dangerous women’.  In seven stories across genres around the central theme of women who are dangerous, a reader is treated to see women in various ways only but is also forced to figure out if the women presented or alluded to are actually dangerous.

 

Of the seven stories featured in Dangerous Women 1 the three best at presenting both a very good story and dangerous women were Carrie Vaugh’s “Raisa Stepanova”, Megan Abbott’s “My Heart Is Either Broken”, and George R.R. Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen”.  Just outside these three was Cecelia Holland’s “Nora’s Song” which had a very good story but was seen from the perspective of a little girl finding out how dangerous her mother is.  These four stories were at the very beginning and the last three stories of the collection giving the anthology a strong start and finish.

 

However, the three stories in the middle suffered from a failure of either not being very good or not having a dangerous woman.  Both Megan Lindholm’s “Neighbors” and Joe R. Lansdale’s “Wrestling Jesus” were very good stories, but the danger posed by the women either featured or more mentioned then seen was hard to detect.  But the weakest story of the entire collection was Lawrence Block’s “I Know How to Pick’em” which went from having potential to falling flat by the end.

 

Overall Dangerous Women 1 is a mixed bag of very good stories with strong female characters, just very good stories with no danger attached to any female character, and just plain bad all around.  The best that could be said is in the end the reader is the ultimate judge.

 

Individual Story Ratings

Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughn (4/5)

I Know How to Pick’em by Lawrence Block (1/5)

Neighbors by Megan Lindholm (2.5/5)

Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale (2/5)

My Heart Is Either Broken by Megan Abbott (4/5)

Nora’s Song by Cecelia Holland (3.5/5)

The Princess and the Queen by George R.R. Martin (4/5)

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text 2017-02-06 23:43
Reading progress update: I've read 416 out of 416 pages.
Dangerous Women Vol. 1 - George R.R. Martin,Gardner Dozois

The Princess and the Queen by George R..R. Martin

 

The Targaryen civil war known as ‘The Dance of the Dragons’ was mythologized in Westeros by bards for almost two hundred years before the events of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.  “The Princess and the Queen” offers the history of first great Targaryen civil war through the death of one of the titular characters, but unlike other Targaryen civil wars or rebellions that threatened the dynasty this one features dragons on both sides.

 

The titular characters were Rhaenyra Targaryen, eldest child of King Viserys I, and Viserys’ second wife Queen Alicent Hightower, mother of Viserys’ eldest son Aegon.  These two dangerous women were rivals for one thing, the succession to the Iron Throne.  Through oaths and proclamations Viserys had designated Rhaenyra as his heir but Alicent championed the right of her son Aegon to succeed as was Westerosi custom of sons over daughters.  For years this feud was building up as Viserys grew older and everyone awaited his death with unease as it felt like a battle for the Iron Throne was sure to follow, a battle that would pit Targaryen dragons against one another.

 

Written as a history by an archmaester of the Citadel, Martin gives an account of ‘the Dance’ noting first the political intrigue by Queen Alicent and her father to crown her son as Aegon II, then the war of letters and ravens to gather support by the two claimants from all the great lords of the realm before inevitably blood was shed then gushed from almost every corner of the realm.  Yet, while some of the narrative reads like a dry history some others describe the action of battles in such a way as to make your imagination view two or more dragons battling one another over sea and land, fighting to the death.

 

Although the military actions in “The Princess and the Queen” are dominated for the most part by men, it’s the decisions by Rhaenyra and to a lesser extent by Alicent throughout the conflict that make this civil war unlike any other in Westerosi history.  Yet, the biggest result of this civil war wasn’t which line of succession won out but that at the end the Targaryen’s greatest claim to the Iron Throne was lost, the dragons.  This factor alone has repercussions down to the time of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire in which dragons return to the world.

 

“The Princess and the Queen” is not like other ASOIAF related short stories, like Dunk & Egg, this is a vivid retelling of history of events that surprisingly do connect with George R.R. Martin’s main series as well as the novellas of Dunk & Egg.  As a fan not only of ASOIAF material, but also an avid reader of history I really enjoyed this piece by Martin, even though it is actually much less than he originally wrote of the events of this time.  But because of the heavy lean towards male characters in a collection focused on dangerous women, there is some downside.

 

4 STARS

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review 2016-10-31 23:54
Warriors 1
Warriors 1 -

Warriors 1 brings together short stories from across all genres by authors whose only criteria were to write about a warrior.  This is the one of three paperback volumes of the whole anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois in which Martin is joined in contributing by Joe Haldeman, Steven Saylor, Tad Williams, Cecelia Holland, and Robert Silverberg.

 

Save for the opening story, this volume is packed with great writing and stories.  Of the five stories that are truly outstanding two are historical fiction, one is science fiction, and two are fantasy.  Not all the stories are full of action as seen in Robert Silverberg’s “Defenders of the Frontier” is more a psychological study but still a well written and compelling narrative.   Only two of the stories featured in this volume are connected in some way to established universes by their authors, Joe Haldeman’s Forever War universe and Martin’s own world of A Song of Ice and Fire.  But while Martin’s “The Mystery Knight” is compelling story with action and intrigue, Haldeman’s “Forever Bound” just doesn’t seem to really connect to a first time reader of his work.  I would be remiss if I forgot to praise the excellent historical fiction stories by Steven Saylor and Cecelia Holland that featured Romans, Carthaginians, and Vikings.

 

While the opening story doesn’t seem to connect well, the rest of the stories in this volume more than make up for it.  These tales of warriors whether based in our own history or worlds far off in space or in a fantastical realm are excellent reads.  The same is true for action, political intrigue, and psychological struggles.  I really loved this collection of short stories and highly recommend it to those interested in get or reading this volume.

 

Individual Story Ratings

Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman (3/5)

The Eagle and the Rabbit by Steven Saylor (5/5)

And Ministers of Grace by Tad Williams (4/5)

The King of Norway by Cecelia Holland (5/5)

Defenders of the Frontier by Robert Silverberg (4.5/5)

The Mystery Knight by George R.R. Martin (5/5)

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text 2016-10-31 01:00
Reading progress update: I've read 394 out of 394 pages.
Warriors 1 -

The Mystery Knight

by George R.R. Martin

 

Political intrigue and mystery are the essence of the third Dunk and Egg novella, “The Mystery Knight”.  George R.R. Martin exposes the reader to the historical reality of the reign of King Aerys I as Ser Duncan ‘Dunk’ the Tall and his squire (Prince) Aegon “Egg” Targaryen stumble into a wedding and tournament full of supports of the Blackfyres and mysterious individuals.

 

The story begins soon after the events of The Sworn Sword, Dunk and Egg stumble upon various lords and hedge knights headed to the wedding of Lord Ambrose Butterwell to a daughter of Lord Frey of the Crossing.  Not wanting to pass up a good meal, Dunk decides to go to the wedding and later to enter the tourney under a mystery knight moniker.  However, Dunk isn’t the only one under a moniker as is the case with Ser John the Fiddler while another knight, Ser Glendon Ball, claims the name of a famous Blackfyre supporter.  However, behind all this pomp and mysterious characters is a fantastical plot to take advantage of the hatred to the Hand of the King Lord Bloodraven and put a Blackfyre on the throne.

 

The Mystery Knight is the first of the novellas in which magical elements seen in the main books series are seen as well as two characters, one very well-known and the other just recently introduced.  From the outset, this novella is very well paced and the growing mystery around the entire wedding of Lord Butterwell only increases the tension that Dunk and Egg find themselves.  In the history of Westeros, Ser Duncan the Tall and the future Aegon V Targaryen are two of the most well known figures of recent memory and with the events of The Mystery Knight they leave their second big impact on the political landscape.

 

5 STARS

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text 2016-07-22 14:52
Reading progress update: I've read 32%.
A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

Dany's story kind of lagged in Clash of Kings; she basically just traveled and questioned herself. Not in Swords, though.

 

Girl is killin' it.

 

Literally.

 

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