Review: Warriors

Posted: March 19, 2010 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Gardner Dozois (Ed), George R. R. Martin (Ed), Fantasy, Science Fiction, Anthology, Short Fiction

WARRIORS (Amazon) is an extremely cool idea for an anthology. It is a collection of multiple stories, from various genres, written by some of the biggest names in speculative fiction. Martin, in his preface talks about how he wanted the book to have no specific genre attached to it (though the cover makes it seem as if it is an epic fantasy anthology), and in this sense the anthology succeeds magnificently. There are short stories from genres spanning fantasy, historic fiction, SF, WWII, and even western. Each of them tells a tale of a “warrior” in that particular setting. Martin’s thought here is that books should broaden our reading perspective, and WARRIORS specifically should show us something new. In this anthology, there truly is something for everyone, and any reader would be hard-pressed not to enjoy it.

Let’s get on with the name-dropping. The anthology was edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and contains short stories by Tad Williams, Robert Silverberg, Cecelia Holland, Naomi Novik, S. M. Stirling, David Weber, James Rollins (or James Clemens for you fantasy-only readers) and a bajillion others.

With anthologies it is usually the expectation that there will be a few gems, a majority of average stories, and then a few puke-worthy filler pieces. Warriors goes ahead and throws that expectation in your face, with the force of a 733 page book. Yeah, this is a large anthology. Very nearly every story in the collection met our expectations, and entertained us completely. Some noteworthy mentions:

Cecelia Holland continues to write magnificent historic fiction (we have loved her writing since we picked up VARANGER at World Fantasy 09, and then read the rest of her novels). Her short story is gritty, immediate, visceral, and wholly entertaining. What else would you expect from a tale about viking warriors?

Robert Silverberg gives us the most interesting (to Nick anyway) tale. While being slower paced than some of the other entries in the anthology, it is much deeper and much more engrossing. Silverberg’s characters are soldiers that have been left out of contact with their superiors for a long time, and who struggle with how long they should continue in their task. The naming syntax used in this short story was also pretty ingenious. It was nothing done new, but it was especially evocative in this specific case.

Carrie Vaughn’s story is probably the most thought provoking, and gives us a glimpse into a fairly unknown part of our own history. During WWII there was a group of pilots called WASP, or Women Airforce Service Pilots. The story is powerful, engrossing, and illuminating. Not too shabby from the chick who writes Urban Fantasy.

WARRIORS is the kind of anthology that everyone should be reading.

George R. R. Martin gives us a new Dunk and Egg story. This is where we had our biggest problem with the anthology. It took immense, god-like, control on our parts to not let the name George R. R. Martin color our review of the rest of the anthology. This was not easily done, especially when he not only has a novella included in it but, his name is on the cover as one of the editors. We have both (but Nick especially) begun nurturing the beginnings of resentment and general loss-of-respect for GRRM. It seems like he is doing absolutely everything within his power to do everything he possible can… other than write anything worthwhile in the A Song of Ice and Fire sequence. We have Wild Cards stuff coming, an HBO series, and this anthology (among other works), while we sit and wait for the next ASoIaF novel–a novel which isn’t even anything close to bringing to story to a close. Its just the second half of the incomplete 4th book. He has repeatedly stated he doesn’t owe his readers anything, but his is false (not to mention absurd). When you write a story, you make a promise to your readers. So… while The Mystery Knight (the novella by GRRM) is well written, as we have come to expect from George, we hated what it represented. Its like being promised a new car for Christmas and getting a Hot Wheels. Yay…

On the other hand–speaking of editors–Gardner Dozois’ story delivered and was suitably dark and entertaining for us. Not only that, but it mentions Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Lindsay Lohan, Facebook, and World of Warcraft. Sadly he neglected Elitist Book Reviews. We emailed Dozois about his oversight. The story is extremely bizarre and foreign, but shows just how weird things can get if you are a good writer.

We could go on about all the fantastic stories, because most of them were, but instead we urge you to pick up WARRIORS and see if George R. R. Martin can convert you to his spinner-rack idea. When all is said and done, WARRIORS is the kind of anthology that everyone should be reading. It is the kind of quality anthology that readers have been waiting for. Instead of buying some anthology of beginning writers, most of which won’t write anything else of value in their futures, how about you pick up this mammoth 733 page anthology written by proven professionals so you can learn from the best. It is well worth the cover price. This is perhaps one of the best anthologies we have ever read.

  • Recommended Age: 18+
  • Language: Its a mixed bag. Some stories don't have any. Others (like James Rollins-who wrote a brilliant short story) have quite a bit.
  • Violence: The title of the anthology is called Warriors...
  • Sex: There are various depictions of sex, from adultery in the Lawrence Block story, to the Carrie Vaughn story which has sexism is one of the central points


  • Shivertongue says:

    As much as I'd like to read this, I had long since decided to ignore everything George R. R. Martin does until the next ASoIaF book comes out (which sucks because I love Wild Cards). Going crazy over anything else of his (which I'm not suggesting you two are doing, but a lot of GRRM fanboys are) only encourages him, I think.

    Gives me A Dance of Dragons, George, or give me nothing at all. You've got promises to keep.

    • -Slamel- says:

      Honestly, and maybe it wasn't stressed enough in the review, I would have enjoyed this anthology much, MUCH more if it had nothing to do with GRRM. A Dance of Dragons? You're easier to please than most. I want the book after ADoD, because ADoD is just the second half of A Feast for Crows.

      I since decided to ignore GRRM, not just until the next ASoIaF, but until it is finished. Which means I am pretty much done reading George. In fact, I already told Steve that I absolutely refuse to read ADoD. That review will be all Steve…

      Passing on this just because it has GRRM's hand in it, would be a bummer because it really is good enough to make me like it despite my growing avarice for George.

      • Shivertongue says:

        I did pick up on that, actually. A little subtle, but I like to read between the lines 😉

        Getting A Dance of Dragons, in my eyes, would merely be a sign of good faith. Like letting one hostage go to show your truly open to negotiations. Even if it came out tomorrow, I expect he'd go back to working on other projects and delaying the book after ADoD. That's the sort of precedent he's setting with his current actions – which implies, to me at least, a lack of respect for the people who consume his product.

        It'd be different if he'd spent this entire time working on it, and it just hasn't yet met his satisfaction. I could respect that. But feeling he owes his readers nothing, and diverting his attention to whatever neat project he can find? Not cool.

        So, like you – and it looks like I'm just following your lead, even though I'd honestly decided this several months ago; should have just said it outright in the initial response – I'm not reading anything of George's until ASoIaF is finished. Nor will I be recommending it to people – I have about as much fantasy clout among my own acquaintances as you guys have with… uh… how large is your sphere of influence? Lets go with the world. That works.

        Seeing A Dance of Dragons in bookstores will just be a sign of good faith. I'm not reading it, nor anything else of his, until I see the other books on the shelf next to it. Not that I would have likely read Warriors to begin with – anthologies aren't my thing, no matter how I try to enjoy them – but it's the principle of the matter. Or something.

        And, on a side-note, I really hope Steve's eventual review of ADoD doesn't include some variation of the line “Worth the wait.”

  • linguana says:

    I'd love to quote Neil Gaiman on this and say “GRRM is not our bitch”, but honestly, sometimes I wish he were and we could keep him from watching football religiously and publish Wild Cards and what not instead of telling us what the frack happens to Arya, Brienne, Jon and the rest of the guys.

    Btw, I love you guys. This page is like a shrine to me. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    When you write a blog you make a promise to your readers. Delivering only one review a week is absurd. You need to drop everything immediately and only focus on this one project before you whine about how others complete theirs…

    • -Slamel- says:

      Well I can promise you we haven't delivered reviews this week, not because we have been watching football, or working on other blogs.

    • And I can promise that, one day, when we are getting paid awesome amounts of money (or any money for that matter…) for writing an opinionated blog (much like Martin and other authors of his fame are getting paid for writing…you know, their jobs), that we will certainly drop everything to fulfill our contracts in a timely manner. Until then, I can promise that I will consistently state my opinions regarding authors who I think are being unprofessional.

  • Ryan says:

    what did you think of the Dianna Gabaldon story?

    • -Slamel- says:

      It was pretty fun, and very fast-paced. More than anything, though, it made me really want to know what it feels like to get shocked by an electric eel.

  • Dan Smyth says:

    After reading the above conversation, I note with some amount of hilarity the following:

    • -Slamel- says:

      I'm gonna murder that guy.

    • On the bright side, at least there isn't another ASoIaF story in the anthology. That would have made me really angry.

      I've decided since reading that post that I'm not gonna waste any more time hating the lack of professionalism GRRM shows. I have so many other awesome novels to read (thanks to Pyr and Tor), that I'm not missing a new GRRM novel too much. Not to mention the import novels I have. GRRM is now an after thought.

  • Reuben says:

    Hey, what if the guy (GRRM) rushed his writing job and what came out was crap? Phantom Menace anyone? I can wait, and if he dies before he finishes I'm sure Brandon Sanderson can figure it out for us.

    Also, just out of curiousity, I'd like to see how many angry/impatient comments you get about GRRM if you guys wrote a blog entry not even related to him or his work and just wrote the letters GRRM in there somewhere or maybe wrote one line such as, “unlike GRRM, Scalzi writes short novels that are released on a semi regular basis.”

    • In a way, I see your point. I mean really, the only thing worse that Martin could do is release a complete crap Goodkind-esque novel.

      Though, there's no way Martin goes George Lucas on us. It would take a serious effort to fall that far.

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