Top positive review
on May 10, 2004
Robert Silverberg (ed.), Legends, vol. 2 (Tor, 1998)
This is water in the desert for fans of fantasy series whose books have a tendency to have a long time between releases. Anne McCaffrey (Pern), George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), and Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth) all contribute short novels to this volume in the Legends series, and all are well worth your time.
Goodkind's story, "Debt of Bones," leads off the trilogy, and deals with a time when Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander was much younger than he is in the Sword of Truth novels. Here, he's pitted against Panis Rahl, and must decide whether to put himself, and the fate of the Midlands, in danger in order to fulfill a debt of bones to the daughter of a deceased sorceress. One has come to expect strong storytelling and easy turning of pages from Goodkind, and he does not disappoint here. Martin's story, "The Hedge Knight," follows. Again taking place some time before the events in the Song of Ice and Fire books, "he Hedge Knight" follows the squire of a newly deceased mercenary, who has a desire to make his name in a tournament against some of the biggest names in the business (including a number of Targaryens, who at the time of this story have not yet been banished; in fact, they play a major part in the story, which should be a pleasant surprise to many Ice and Fire fans). Martin's work on this series is always a pleasure, and once again, the is no disappointment to be found here, though one wonders about the loose end to be found.
The biggest surprise of the bunch, to me, was McCaffrey's "Runner of Pern." I've always shied away from the Pern books, for no real reason. This story is a welcome change of pace from the two that precede it; rather than battles, jousting, and the rest, this is a quiet romantic coming-of-age tale that hits just the right spot, like a lemon ice after a boeuf bourguignon. It's convinced me to go back and try the Pern novels, as McCaffrey's style is simple and engaging. Like the others, she keeps the pages turning.
Definitely a worthwhile piece of work. I shouldn't have to sell those who are already enmeshed in the various series covered here, but others will find it a perfect sampling to see if the three titans covered here are to their tastes. I can almost guarantee they will be. ****