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Posted June 11, 2013
I gave this 4.5 stars.
Why not 5 stars? Because this is based on my tastes, and I am more an epic fantasy reader, than a short story reader. I like long stories so that I can spend a lot of time in the story.
With short stories, things are over too quickly so I rarely read them.
But I found much to like in this collection, and I enjoyed it a lot. If you liked Beaulieu's Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, I think you will like this book.
First, the collection contains a prequel and sequel story to the series so you can learn more about that world, and spend more time there.
But, primarily, the collection contains a number of very entertaining and enthralling fantasy stories. With the exception of "A trade of Shades" (interesting, but very short for my tastes), I found each story excellent. The title story in particular was fantastic; highly original, magical, with several story threads going on making it truly a wonderful and complex short story. At 28 pages, not tiny. I found that the majority of the stories had a good size, with plenty of room to develop the characters and the story.
Another great thing about the collection is the variety of the tales. Each one is quite different from the others, so you won't get bored. We have everything from what seemed like an Egyptian inspired setting, to an American desert, to an Arabian desert, to nautical, to Russian, urban fantasies, to a futuristic feel, to a norse inspired world. Even an Asian setting.
And as I have come to expect from the Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, the stories were each highly original, and they had twists that kept you guessing. Typically, the story turns out to be quiet different than what you expect from the beginning.
If you haven't read Beaulieu's work before and would like to dip your toe to see if you would like it, I think this collection is an excellent way to do so. It gives you a good feel for his writing and what makes his Lays of Anuskaya trilogy such a wonderful read.
In closing, I recommend this collection highly.