Warriors 1

Warriors 1Warriors 1 by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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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The Mystery Knight (ASOIAF- Dunk & Egg #3)

warriors-1The Mystery Knight by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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.

Defenders of the Frontier (Warriors 1)

warriors-1Defenders of the Frontier by Robert Silverberg
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A fortification protecting a mountain pass in the midst of a desert between two war nations is only manned by eleven men including Surveyor. Once a force of 10,000 when occupying the fort two decades before, the eleven men have over the past few years have killed “the enemy” in ones or two but now their Seeker can’t detect them. Now they begin thinking about if the war is still going on, if they should stay or leave the fort, and if they leave will they be able to function back home. Or is the fort now home?

The King of Norway (Warriors 1)

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The King of Norway by Cecelia Holland
My rating: 5 out of 5

The titular character is an Conn Corbannson, a hirdman to King Sweyn of Denmark, who is upset with his Danish leader because he won’t attack England. Sweyn however wants to teach Haakon the Jarl—the real King of Norway—a lesson and has asked for help from the Jomsvikings to help. During the welcome feast, Conn gets too drunk and swears to become ‘King of Norway’. It’s a vow Conn continually regrets, especially when he comes face-to-face with Haakon.

And Ministers of Grace (Warriors 1)

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And Ministers of Grace by Tad Williams
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Assassin Lamentation Kane attempts to “do the will of God” by killing the leader of the ultra-secular planetary coalition whom he has been trained since childhood to hate by his ultra-religious government. However, Kane fails and is captured then is experimented on to learn about the cybernetic technology he has been enhanced with only for him to escape not only physical captivity but the cybernetic implant of the secular government as well. Yet once free and his mind clear, Kane realizes he has to think on his own.

The Eagle and the Rabbit (Warriors 1)

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The Eagle and the Rabbit by Steven Saylor
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After the destruction of Carthage, Saylor’s “The Eagle and The Rabbit” follows a fugitive Carthaginian Hanso who is just captured along others of his tribe by Roman slavers. He finds himself favored by the group’s leader Fabius as “the eagle” while another in their group Lino becomes “the rabbit” to be the plaything amongst the Romans. Fabius kicks Lino out of the camp and sends Hanso out to capture or kill him in return for his own freedom, but it doesn’t seem so simple to Hanso.

Forever Bound (Warriors 1)

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Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Setting in Haldeman’s own The Forever War universe, “Forever Bound” follows Julian Class who is drafted into a Remote Infantry unit in which soldiers are cybernetically linked to both robots and everyone in his squad to fight against enemies of the United States. Most of the story revolves around Julian and his fellow squad member Carolyn having an intense relationship thanks to their cybernetic link until Carolyn suddenly dies because of the effects of the implants have on her brain causing Class to go into a severe depression that can only be alleviated during his 10 days on duty every month when he and the rest of his squad are linked as a collective whole.