Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Legends 3 edited by Robert Silverberg


Legends 3 edited by Robert Silverberg is the third and presumably final volume in the series and features stories by Robert Jordan, Ursula K LeGuin, Tad Williams, and Terry Pratchett.  I’ve said that the previous two books are a wonderful way to sample each writer’s style and know whether or not you want to read an entire series of fantasy novels.  When one considers how long so many of these novels can be, the opportunity to read a short novella rather than suffer through an entire novel is ideal.

This collection begins with “New Spring” by Robert Jordan which is the novella that eventually was fleshed out to the full length novel I read (and reviewed).  For that reason, I chose not to read this abridged version.  The novel is still shorter than any of the other novels in the Wheel of Time series and this novella is shorter still.  The characters introduced in this novella are pivotal to the series but not necessarily primary players so this short story serves as a lovely prelude to the series as a whole. 

Ursule K LeGuin’s “Dragonfly” is a part of her glorious Earthsea series.  The tone of the story is as evocative as her full length novels.  LeGuin’s narrative is poetic and delicate while being powerful, even mythic.  There is a quiet power to her prose, a particular cadence that makes her stories stand out from the others brilliantly.  I adored her Earthsea novels and this story was an enchanting addition.

“The Burning Man” by Tad Williams was my least favorite story and made me less inclined to read the Memory,Sorrow, and Thorn series.  The author’s style did not appeal to me, the voice sounded false, the way a rehearsed speech can sound too precise.  I didn’t not feel myself emotionally drawn into the story, and I felt nothing for the protagonist.  The “surprise” twist was so obvious that I knew what would happen long before it came to fruition on the page.  Altogether, a disappointment.

Last but absolutely not least is “The Sea and the Little Fishes” by Terry Pratchett.  I’m very fond of Pratchett’s Discworld novels and some of my favorites are about the witches so it was inevitable I would enjoy this perfect little taste of his sardonic stories.  I laughed, more than once, aloud, appreciating the events as they unfolded, delighting in both the familiar and surprising.  Reading Pratchett is always a joy and this story was no exception. 

I encourage anyone who is wondering what fantasy series they should read next to read any of the Legends books rather than to commit to reading thousands of pages of stories, especially if you are the type who must finish something once it is started.  I can’t imagine suffering through so many pages and, if you would like to avoid such a fate, reading one or more of the novellas will allow you a window into the world each writer creates, his or her narrative tone, and make a more educated choice.  

2 comments:

  1. It's been a long time since I read this one, and as the original single volume version.
    I don't remember anything about New Spring except not being encouraged to read Wheel of Time by it.
    I read the first three Earthsea books many years ago, unfortunately the LeGuin was obvious to me as I'd read "The Rule of Names" years earlier with the same twist. Unfortunately that story was spolit by the collection that it was in.
    Pratchett was as always great.
    I don't think I even finished the Tad Williams story.
    However, this short story series was such a great idea I wish they were still doing it. There was also a Legends II and Far Horizon.

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    1. Paul, I wholeheartedly agree. This was such a great idea. I loved being able to try on a writer before making a commitment to his or her series. I have tried to read some series and couldn't even finish the first book but would try again and again. Reading a novella is enough to let me know whether or not I want to read more. I wish they would resurrect this series. There are so many new books out there.

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