Review of REALMS OF WAR by Philip Athans, Editor
THE TWILIGHT WAR ANTHOLOGY
Wizards of the Coast, January 2008
In the world of Faerun, war seems eternal. Sometimes, battle can be decided by strength, sometimes by trickery. Often, though, it comes by finding unexpected allies--or by making allies out of those who seemed enemies. The highest wisdom comes, it seems, in recognizing that victory itself is not really the ultimate goal, and in finding the humanity in everyone in the fight.
A number of top Forgotten Realms authors join to create an anthology of stories spanning almost two thousand years. Too often, in an anthology, authors bash off something and then return to their real love--their novels. And the form of the short story, coupled with the fact that many readers in their own series won't read the anthology, means that real advances in their continuing story line are impossible. Fortunately, all of these stories are readable and most of the authors have chosen, wisely, to use the short story format to look more deeply into individual characters during a few moments or days of their lives.
A few of the twelve stories deserve special attention. "Weasel's Run" by Lisa Smedman, is a really enjoyable adventure. "Changing Tides" by Mel Odom gives us a great character in in Rytagir, and a look at a part of the Forgotten Realms that is often, well, forgotten. "Bones and Stones" by R. A. Salvatore, is a profound miniature as two warriors revisit a battlefield to recover the bodies of their fallen young. A couple of the authors got carried away in battle, forgetting that we read these stories to learn about people rather than military tactics, but even these stories were well written and held my interest.
I'm not usually a fan of the short story collection: I enjoy the longer format of the novel, and find multiauthor collections too often simply attempts to capitalize on the big name authors. REALMS OF WAR is an exception and an enjoyable read.
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