Welcome to Fortannis-a place where adventure waits to waylay you around every corner.
It's a land where humans mingle with stubborn dwarves, mysterious elves, and feathered biata against shape-shifting gryphons, necromantic zombies, and silly goblins. It's a land where things are never as they seem; where good and evil are not always clear-cut, and where the strong do not always prevail.
In Fortannis, one can learn magic by summoning the power of the flow of order in the world, to tie yourself to the living cycle of all around you. Or, if your inclinations are darker, you can be tempted by the flow of chaos and entropy, which allows you to create undead abominations and cast substantially more powerful spells (in exchange for the corruption of your soul). Hey, the choice is yours.
This is the fifth collection of stories which take place in the world of Fortannis. Some of these stories feature characters introduced in the novels and the first four collections, but you don't have to read the earlier ones to enjoy these stories. You'll enjoy them more if you do, however. I recommend reading the books in the following order to keep the timeline consistent: Arch Enemies, The Axes of Evil, A Bard's Eye View, A Bard in the Hand, A Bard Day's Knight, It's a Wonderful Death, A Bard Act to Follow.
Happy reading!Table of Contents
The Hidden Treasure of Pirate Percy - Michael A. Ventrella
Greenpool - Sarah Stegall
Chalric Hill - Henry Hart
To Be a Squire - Jon Cory
Hoarfrost - Susan Bianculli
The Storm Before the Calm - Mark Mensch
Hidden Bouquet - Derek Beebe
The Lost - Miles Lizak
Bartleby Goes Adventuring - Jesse Hendrix
Squeeze - Shane Porteous
The Hole in Vorak's Peak - Bernie Mojzes
History Never Repeats - Beth W. Patterson“Like a favorite smorgasbord, No Holds Bard is a rich, eclectic banquet of wonderful stories, alike only in their unpredictable telling. Want bards? Check. Elves? Check. Betrayal? Love? Sacrifice? Humor? Got ‘em all. This collection of authors come together, each with their own offering, to give the reader an experience they'll not forget.” - Peter Prellwitz, author of the Shards Universe
“Fortannis is a copmlex world. This richness gives its authors plenty of room to move around in, the freedom to pick and choose, or to start with a clean slate. Some stories are light, almost humorous. Others are darker, some grim, and some even tragic.” - Allen L. Wold, author of The Planet Masters and Jewels of the Dragon
“Whole-hearted adventure, swashbuckling fun, daring heroics and plenty of humor. Prepare to be thrilled and amazed!” - Gail Z. Martin, author of Scourge and The Chronicles of the Necromancer
“The best feature of the Fortannis books—one strongly re-emphasized here—is the diversity of stories. Heroic tales are side by side with character studies, with workaday people just trying to get by in a fantasy realm, with tragedy and comedy.” - Ryk Spoor, author of author of The Balanced Sword trilogy
No Holds Bard is the fifth entry in the Fortannis collections conceived, vetted, and edited by Michael Ventrella. “Fortannis” is the world in which all the adventures take place—a fantasy land which combines the familiar with the innovative (humans, elves and dwarves are around, but so are the feathery, telepathic biata, various animal-kin, and other species).
The punny titles of the collections (others included A Bard Day's Knight and A Bard in the Hand) give fair warning that some of the stories may be lighthearted, but this is not always the case. Some certainly are (“Bartleby Goes Adventuring”, for instance, which is a rather Danny Kaye-ish fantasy tale) but others are dramatic sword-and-sorcery or poignant tales of how adventure and honor come with prices.
No Holds Bard is at least as good as the prior volumes, and in fact appears to continue the trend of the stories reaching higher bars. Unlike some prior volumes, I found none of the stories in these weak in any respect; there were certainly some that stood out above the others, but none that made me think they were out of place in the collection.
The best feature of the Fortannis books—one strongly re-emphasized here—is the diversity of stories. Heroic tales are side by side with character studies, with workaday people just trying to get by in a fantasy realm, with tragedy and comedy. This is a rare mix; many collections tend to a particular flavor, and while all the stories are clearly “Fortannis,” they don't slot neatly at all into the same categories—and that's really a great strength.I highly recommend No Holds Bard!
|Publisher:||Double Dragon Publishing|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
In High School, he started his own “underground” newspaper which hadmore in common with Mad magazine than any real journalism. He alsowrote a musical comedy called “But I’m Allergic to Horses” about areluctant sheriff who cleans up a western town using only his wits.The play was a hit, receiving great reviews from the Richmondnewspaper, and running for an extra week. Mike received the “MostTalented” award from his senior class. He also played bass in a numberof bands at the time, meeting his future wife Heidi Hooper (an artist)at one gig.
College beckoned and Mike majored in Political Science at VirginiaCommonwealth University, where he graduated cum laude. He was electedto the student government with the highest vote count and chaired theimportant judicial committee. Mike also served as program director forthe college radio station and wrote for the school newspaper. Duringthis time, his band The Naughty Bits headlined the major clubs in thearea with their “new wave” sound reminiscent of Elvis Costello andGraham Parker.
After college, Mike moved to Boston to attend New England law school.While there, he edited the school newspaper and became involved inBoston politics.
Heidi and Mike married in 1982.
After graduation, Mike worked primarily as a public defender; however,he also was a lobbyist for the liberal group Americans for DemocraticAction (and later served as the Massachusetts chapter President for ayear), taught political science courses at Bunker Hill CommunityCollege, and was a campaign manager for a state representative.
During this time, Mike wrote songs and performed in two prominentbands, Agent 99 and Big House, which played the major clubs in theBoston area and received airplay on local college radio.
Mike also started a magazine about animated films called “Animato” inthe mid 80s which grew to be quite prominent. He has been quoted inmany publications as an animation expert, including “EntertainmentWeekly” and in the recent book "The Dream Team: The Rise and Fall ofDreamWorks: Lessons from the New Hollywood" by Daniel M. Kimmel.
In 1989, Mike and Heidi helped form the New England RoleplayingOrganization which has evolved into The Alliance LARP (http://alliancelarp.com) with campaigns all over the country.
In 1997, Mike and Heidi moved to the beautiful Poconos, where Mike nowworks as an attorney. Heidi’s artwork is seen in galleries around thearea. (http://heidihooper.com). They love the pitter patter of littlefeet (they have four cats).
Mike is a regular fixture at science fiction conventions on the eastcoast, where he appears on panels to discuss fiction, animation, andgaming. His web page is http://michaelaventrella.com and he caneasily be found on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other networkingsites. His blog about writing (link at the web page) has interviewedmany prominent science fiction and fantasy authors.