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A Handful of Coppers: Collected Early Stories, Heroic Fantasy Hardcover – Dec 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean (December 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931081735
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931081733
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 16.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 671 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,895,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This collection of early tales, some of them unpublished, is essential reading for fans of World Fantasy Award-winner de Lint (The Onion Girl). The six Aynber and Thorn yarns that open the volume ("Wizard's Bounty," etc.) are chock full of slashing swords, magic and evil sorcerers, but lack depth. The three set pieces about Colum mac Donal, an outlawed Irish berserker who becomes part of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, exhibit more compassion and better plotting. The last and most compelling Colum piece, "The Fair in Emain Macha," deals with his return to his family in Ireland and the subsequent "King-Breaking." Somewhat atypical is "The Skin & Knife Game" (co-written with Lee Barwood), a fantasy-horror melange of creepy madness. All the stories are short and a bit light on the wordsmithing readers have come to expect from this master fantasist, but they are nonetheless fun to read and right on target for the sword-and-sorcery crowd.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Fifteen of the distinguished Canadian fantasist's early stories reappear here. The six Aynber tales show, de Lint admits, the influence of spaghetti Westerns, while those about Colum mac Donal combine Robert E. Howard's Conan milieu with Celtic and Norse mythology. The tales of Damon, a vengeance-driven halfling with bloody habits, have by far the darkest tone of any in the volume, but they are no less well written. The two Liavek stories, early entries in a shared-world series, represent de Lint maturing beyond the level of the earlier pieces. None of the stories could truthfully be said to be much more than a gifted amateur's work, but de Lint's command of the language is there from the first. De Lint enjoys an insatiable audience, however, and since many of the venues in which these stories first saw light had miniscule circulation and worse distribution, wherever those fans flock should give thought to getting this book. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Format: Hardcover
This is a reader-demand collection of stories, some published as much as 25 years ago and long out of print, and some never before published at all. The stories are all great reading, even if the author is charmingly apologetic about their quality. His imagination shines like the light of multi-colored moons over undiscovered worlds. The new cover art and original illustrations are a pure delight.
Mr. de Lint's work, both old and new, is particularly appealing to me as a student of story-telling in the long tradition. I am definitely a "glutton for punishment", as he describes us, and hope for more.
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By A Customer on July 11 2004
Format: Hardcover
A Handful of Coppers is better than many books I've happily read to the end, but it is nowhere near what, say, his Newford novels are. This book is ordinary, while those are extraordinary.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A tantalizing peek into the author's younger days June 3 2005
By Tom Knapp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's reassuring, I think, to be occasionally reminded that even the most gifted of people didn't spring from the womb with all their abilities intact. Even those people deserving high praise today, be they musicians, writers, artists or whatever form of creative mind they've become, had to work from the bottom, earning their skills through trial and error.

So it was with Charles de Lint, certainly one of my favorite writers and a man whose inventive stories have earned him devoted followers around the world. He, too, had to sift through the grist of his imagination and hone his skills as a wordsmith before earning the accolades he deserves today. A glimpse of his journeyman days as a writer is available in a new limited-edition collection from Subterranean Press. A Handful of Coppers collects various heroic tales from de Lint's early years of writing, primarily from the late 1970s and '80s, when his focus was still largely on high fantasy, sword-and-sorcery stuff that quickly fell by the wayside as he developed a more contemporary style.

The first sequence of stories focuses on a sword-wielding warrior babe of the sort well-known to fantasy buffs. Aynber is of course beautiful -- golden hair, grey-green eyes and a distracting physique -- and she goes into frays wearing clothes designed to promote, not protect, her ample chest. She is usually down on her luck despite her many successful quests -- a peculiarity of a lot of heroes in this genre -- and consorts with wizards of questionable skill and intent. She lives in a fairly generic fantasy world, instantly recognizable to anyone who's dipped into the post-Tolkien genre. And there are other predictable elements, each fairly common to the genre: brigands who don't bathe and get drunk when they shouldn't, spells that backfire with comical (and dangerous) results, a heroine who loses her top in a struggle so her breasts "heave in the moonlight."

But after two fairly standard thud-and-blunder tales, de Lint begins settling into certain choices that would figure heavily in his later work. In "Stormraven," the third of six in the series, he begins weaving music into magic. Better still are the four stories featuring Colum mac Donal, a berserker among Irishmen who flees his homeland in "Night of the Valkings" after an unsuccessful king-breaking and serves in Britain with the bearish Artor. "The Ring of Brodgar" and "The Iron Stone" encompass several key years in the Arthur legend before returning Colum home to reclaim his lost love and take up his former cause.

The stories, although written separately and published between 1978 and 1985 in Space & Time, work extremely well in unison as a short novel. The final chapter, "The Fair in Emain Macha," also appeared (in a slightly different form) as a Tor Double in 1990, coupled with Fritz Leiber's "Ill Met in Lankhmar." De Lint's sagas are exciting, evoking the Celtic age of heroes with great success -- this portion of the book is easily my favorite.

Colum's adventures in Ireland and Britain came to a close far too soon for my tastes, and I found myself wishing for a fifth chapter detailing his final voyage and his life in ... well, I'll let new readers discover for themselves where he goes, but there's a story there that needs telling!

Next, de Lint returns us to the same fantasy world inhabited by Aynber, focusing now on Damon, a half-aelven and half-daemon fighter who cares little who gets in the way of his mystic sword. Let's be honest, a daemon named Damon is hardly a unique literary conceit. In "Wings over Antar," he is at least a misunderstood anti-hero, his villain's face concealing a rough-hewn heart of gold. But in "Dark Gods Laughing," Damon has dropped the pretense of inner goodness and lives up to his name. Without a sympathetic protagonist, the two Damon tales are less interesting -- appropriately, they are also short.

The last two stories in this collection are from the world of Liavek, a fantasy setting created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, who edited several volumes about the city and its inhabitants. Never having read the series, I feared the tales would be missing some element of flow or vital context, but thankfully they stand well on their own. Both feature the itinerant minstrel Saffer; "The Rat's Alley Shuffle" is the more whimsical of the two, involving a fixed card game and a wizard's comeuppance, while "The Skin and Knife Game" with Lee Barwood is creepier and far more sinister.

I haven't read much heroic fantasy in recent years, ever since the cover of de Lint's Yarrow caught my eye and drew me into a different sort of fantasy world. I found myself enjoying these early tales far more than I expected; even knowing my love of de Lint's writing, I half-expected the clash of swords and chanting of spells would grow at least a little tiresome by the end. But no, I was surprisingly refreshed by this trip into the literary past (both mine and de Lint's), which ended all too soon.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great for de Lint collectors and students Aug. 30 2003
By Andy Petty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a reader-demand collection of stories, some published as much as 25 years ago and long out of print, and some never before published at all. The stories are all great reading, even if the author is charmingly apologetic about their quality. His imagination shines like the light of multi-colored moons over undiscovered worlds. The new cover art and original illustrations are a pure delight.
Mr. de Lint's work, both old and new, is particularly appealing to me as a student of story-telling in the long tradition. I am definitely a "glutton for punishment", as he describes us, and hope for more.


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