Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nights of the Round Table and Other Stories of Heroic Fantasy by Tanya Huff

Explore uncharted territory in this collection of heroic fantasy shorts from Tanya Huff. Annotations provide background and insight on each story. Peppered with Huffs trademark tongue-in-cheek wit and the brilliant, funny, wise, ruthless heroines that have made her famous, this is a collection you wont want to miss. Travel to Camelot in Nights of the Round Table and to ancient Egypt in Succession. Revisit beloved fairytales in All Things Being Relative. Sail the seas in Blood in the Water and Oh Glorious Sight. Also includes What Little Girls Are Made Of, A Womans Work, and Slow Poison.

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A solid collection of short stories. There weren't any that I truly didn't care for, though certainly I liked some more than others. Below are my comments on each story, added as I finished each.

Nights of the Round Table : A quirky, fun perspective on the legend of Camelot and some of its notable figures. Full of plenty laugh out loud lines from the no-nonsense old cleaning woman who makes manages to de-mystify most of the trappings of the legend and bring it all down to earth to the mundane level of scraping unmentionable "stuff" off the bottoms of their chairs. Definitely a recommended read for those that enjoy holding revered legends up to a rather irreverent and humorous light.
What Little Girls Are Made Of : I'm not familiar with the world this story is set in, but such knowledge didn't seem too essential to understand what this story was about basically. A cute story in which many things are glossed over, yet the essential bits of info are still there, with a humorous twist at the end. Quick, fun reading.
Blood In the Water : An interesting story with vivid characters, and just enough details given about the world and situation to make the reader curious to hear more. Something of a pity if this is the only story set in this world that Ms. Huff did, as there seems to be a lot that could be expanded upon for a longer tale or novel.
A Woman's Work : Cute story about an "evil" tyrant queen and how she's obtained and held onto her empire. Full of plenty of humor and wit, with more than a small dose of cynicism thrown into the mix for good measure. An entertaining, light read.
Succession : An intriguing, if somewhat confusing story. While the gist of what's going on isn't hard to grasp, I found that things got a bit too vague regarding the details of what was being done right at the crucial point of the story where the heroine finds a way to let good triumph. I appreciate the tone with which Ms. Huff was telling the story at that point, and admire the way in which she tells us what's happening without *quite* telling us what's happening, but a teensy bit more clarification would have been nice. Still, definitely one of the best stories in the collection.
Oh Glorious Sight : Another great story that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The changes in attitudes among the characters is interesting to watch unfold, as the master who seems kind at the beginning shows himself to be just another thoughtless and arrogant nobleman, and the crew that at first rejects young Tam, gradually warms to him and comes to consider him one of their own. A thought provoking tale that hints at much, but leaves most undefined so that the reader can fill in whatever explanations fit best for them.
All Things Being Relative : Fairly similar to "A Woman's Work" in a lot of ways, but with a definitely more sinister feel to it. The queen in this one feels far more like an "evil dictator" than the one in the previous story did. A good story, but I guess I have to say I prefered "A Woman's Work" to this one.
Slow Poison : A clever and insightful tale of what happens in a kingdom after "barbarians" conquer it and take over. The descriptions of the food will most have you salivating, while at the same time you're receiving an entertaining lesson in what all goes into putting lavish meals on a warlord's (or king's) table on a regular basis. Interesting reading, though not, in my opinion, the best story in the bunch here.

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