Ninety-Four (Tales from the Eternal Archives #1)

0886778239-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Ninety-Four by Jean Rabe
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

During World War II, the U-94 is seemingly unbeatable and takes on large convoys by itself. It turns out the boat has help, a water sprite who is infatuated with it’s captain who equally home on the sea and infatuated with his “Fraulein Faerie”. However their combined success comes to an end when they are trapped by two convoys and the sprite sacrifices herself to save her beloved captain. Yet the story ends happily 40 years later after the sprite reforms herself, she finally convinces her man to join her in the sea.

This was the perfect blend of quasi-history and fantasy unlike some stories that are just fun to read.

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The Wind at Tres Castillos (Tales from the Eternal Archives #1)

0886778239-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_The Wind at Tres Castillos by Robyn Fielder
My rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Lozen, a warrior and prophetess to the Chihenne Chiricahua Apache band led by her brother Victorio, returns to the titular Tres Castillos to find him mortally wounded. The surrounding Mexican army employ a shaman who brings forth the deity known as Wind, or Gray Ghost Chief, whom Lozen has previous history with. The Chief demands Lozen unbind him or he’d allow the Mexicans to kill the rest of her band, but Lozen decides to take on the persona of the deity White Painted Woman to marry Gray Ghost Chief who then turns on the Mexicans to allow Lozen and her band to flea to join Geronimo’s war.

There just seemed to be something off about this story from the beginning, after research I learned that the historical Lozen had been nowhere near the historical Battle (Massacre) of Tres Castillos. Besides incorrect historical facts, there are other things that didn’t feel right that impacted the story negatively and made the fantastical features fall flat.

Memnon Revived (Tales from the Eternal Archives #1)

0886778239-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Memnon Revived by Peter Schweighofer
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

During his expedition to study the numerous inscriptions of Egyptian hieroglyphics that he deciphered, Jean Champollion wants to stop by the Colossi of Memnon. According to legend, one of the statues sings at dawn as the spirit Memnon praises his mother, the goddess Aurora. While Champollion’s new arrived travelling companion Nestor L’Hote dismisses the story, the expedition’s guide Omar is intrigued. After the local sheik denies Champollion permission to cross the Nile because of bandits, but Champollion convinces Omar to row them over before dawn. They arrive just in time and as the bandits start circling, the sunrises and Memnon sings scaring off the bandits as Champollion and Omar listen in wonder. Overall it’s a nice story that connects to some earlier stories around the Iliad and Odyssey but is nothing exciting.

Silver Thread, Hammer Ring (Tales from the Eternal Archives #1)

0886778239-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Silver Thread, Hammer Ring by Gary A. Braunbeck
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The legendary John Henry battles the steam-drill driven by a mythical creature as part of a rivalry between two other legendary individuals in a world in which alternate history and myth combine. The night before his hammers battle a steam-drill driven by a bullheaded man, John Henry recounts the events that led him to the railroad construction company owned by Mr. Daedalus in the Confederate States of Mexico, led by President John Brown. After proving himself to the foreman Captain Tommy, Henry becomes the crew’s best worker until one day a Mr. Minos and his bullheaded assistant block the tunnel and demand the crew use their steam-drill then kill one of Henry’s co-workers. Henry challenges the machine and later meets with Mr. Daedalus who relates that Mr. Minos and he were once partners but they had a falling out as Minos only wanted money and Daedalus wanted to create for everyone. Years later, Daedalus’ son Icarus and Minos’ son, Perdix, got into a fight and Icarus beheaded Perdix but Minos caught him and chained him to the Gates of Hell that Daedalus had constructed. Incidentally the path Henry will be tunneling will lead him to said Gates and Daedalus asks him to rescue his son. Henry agrees and the next day using hammers that Daedalus says is loaned by a Mr. Thor hammers his way to the Gates of Hell, releases Icarus, and after they escape Henry returns to the contest and bests the bullheaded man and the drill.

Besides the earlier story of Odysseus, this is one of the most fantastical stories of the collection so far. The intertwining of alternate history, Greek myth, American folklore, and other bits of world mythology are expertly combined to create a great story that was slightly ruined by the somewhat out of nowhere happy ending dealing with Henry’s dead younger brother who turns up alive.

Kings’ Quest (Tales from the Eternal Archives #1)

0886778239-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Kings’ Quest by Mickey Zucker Reichert
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

King Harald Sigurdhson, aka Hardrada, suddenly finds himself waking up from death not in Valhalla but in a black misty wasteland. While attempting to figure out what it going on, the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok appears and after some standard “who are” back and forth Ragnar tells Harald he feels divinely inspired to solve their predicament by killing Hel. Intrigued Harald wonders how it’ll work when Loki appears and assures them with an oath that killing Hel would get them to Valhalla. The two warriors make their way through Hel’s domain before confronting the goddess herself, only for Harald to prevent Ragnar from striking Hel when I realized that Loki is to lead the forces attacking Valhalla. Hel reveals that she keeps the dead docile so they don’t attack Valhalla and tells the two kings to take the boat of the dead to Valhalla forcing Loki to take centuries build another especially since she won’t help him this time. Overall a very enjoyable story, even with a few anachronistic words (chiefly the Norse wouldn’t have called themselves Vikings) it doesn’t diminish a great combine take on Norse mythology and history.

The Last Suitor (Tales from the Eternal Archives #1)

0886778239-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_The Last Suitor by Kristin Schwengel
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Akheas draws the long straw amongst a group of slaves, Trojans taken captive after the fall of their city, to avenge the fall of their city. Hiding from the slave guards and getting help from an Egyptian servant woman of the man who took them captive, Akheas hides in a warehouse until the same woman comes for him and gets him to the royal palace before giving him a sword to complete his mission. A palace slave from Egypt then gets him into the room of his target. After his target returns and after being left alone, Akheas emerges from his hiding place to look upon Helen. He is almost overcome with lust when he sees a well-crafted necklace that she is wearing, a necklace he made for Queen Hecuba and the spell is broken as he pulls out his sword and exacts vengeance on Helen of Sparta for the sack of Troy. This is a well-crafted story and it took in not only the famous aspects of the Trojan War but also some not so familiar legends surrounding it about Helen being in Egypt either with Paris or after the war.

Wisdom (Tales from the Eternal Archives #1)

0886778239-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Wisdom by Richard Lee Byers
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

For months rumors have reached King Odysseus of Ithaca that the natural order is falling apart and now it has finally reach his home. Taking a ship to Delphi, Odysseus finds the shrine abandoned and the Pythia alone unable to focus her abilities. Killing an owl—which offered itself to be sacrificed—to enhance the vapors’ qualities, Odysseus and the Seer learn that the celebrated Judgment of Paris did not end with Paris giving the golden apple to Aphrodite but Athene. When given his reward, Paris realizes he wasn’t given all the wisdom Athene had and forces the goddess to give it all to him. The result is Paris challenging the gods and winning, transforming all who challenged him into beasts but unable to keep the cosmos functioning due to his ever growing madness. Odysseus travels to Olympus by way of the Underworld, asking Persephone’s permission to Hades’ chariot, horses, and helm. But as he is about to strike Paris, the madman stops him only to find out later that he didn’t see Odysseus real plan which results in his defeat and the restoration of the gods. I have hung on to Legends: Tales from the Eternal Archives for almost 20 years because of this reinterpretation of Greek legend. This is one of my favorite short stories and if there are any flaws in it, I overlook them because I love this story so much.