It’s only 114 days until Christmas. Hanukkah is even sooner. Looking for a gift?
Heroic Fantasy Short Stories has “32 stories of adventure, tales of knights and kings, of wizards and warriors, of golems and gladiators.” This handsomely bound volume will make a perfect gift for any fan of Tolkien, Howard, or Bujold. Like the other anthologies in Flame Tree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy series, it’s a combination of new and classic tales. Sixteen of the stories are by contemporary authors, mostly American, but a few from Canada and South Africa. Sixteen of the stories are classic fantasy adventures, either complete stories or excerpts of longer sagas by Geoffrey Chaucer, Howard Pyle, Clark Ashton Smith, E. R. Eddison, Robert E. Howard, and others, including some “Greek chappie” (as Rubeus Hagrid would say) named Homer. It’s nearly 500 pages of sorceresses, storytellers, King Kull, King Cambuscan, King Arthur, desperate men and women, dragons, and assorted inhuman creatures.
Of the sixteen stories by modern authors, twelve are debuting in this anthology and four are reprints. One, M. Elizabeth Ticknor’s “A Matter of Interpretation,” is her first professional sale.
The classic tales include excerpts from:
- Gylfaginning, by Snorri Sturluson
- The Nibelungenlied
- The Odyssey, by Homer
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- The Song of Roland
- The Wood Beyond the World, by William Morris
- The Worm Ouroboros, by E. R. Eddison
- The Story of King Arthur and his Knights, by Howard Pyle
- The Ship of Ishtar, by A. Merritt
- The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
In addition to the excerpts from longer sagas, there are complete stories by John Buchan, Clark Ashton Smith, Andrew Lang, and two stories by Robert E. Howard, one of King Kull and one of Solomon Kane.
Dr. Philippa Semper, Lecturer in English at the University of Birmingham, discussed the nature of heroism in the foreward of Heroic Fantasy Short Stories.
Heroes do not fight simply for their own glory, important though that might be. They fight to recover their land, or save the honour of their king; their actions have consequences beyond the deed that wins the day. Part of their heroism may be the pursuit of a better way to behave, whether being a greater warrior, finding a way to avenge a wrong, or searching out a middle way between chivalry and war-mongering. At times they succeed peacefully; at others, they leave a trail of blood and carnage. These ancient and medieval heroes, however, rarely live ‘happily ever after.’ A hero is a risk-seeker, living right on the edge of endurance, a sacrifice-in-waiting.
Krypton Radio journalist Susan Macdonald, who’s written over sixty articles for this website, has a story in Heroic Fantasy Short Stories.