Sword and Sorceress XXII, edited by Elisabeth Waters

The twenty-first volume of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress came out in 2004, and many readers (myself included) mourned what we thought would be the end of the series. Happily, a new publisher has picked up the torch.

For anyone unfamiliar with the series, the book collects sword & sorcery tales with strong female protagonists, a broad enough theme to encompass a variety of good stories from authors both experienced and new. I settled down, cracked open the book … and found myself vaguely disappointed. The first few stories didn’t satisfy me. Had I romanticized the series so much that nothing could live up to my expectations?

But no, as I read further, I found stories that drew me in. Stories where the struggles felt real, and the heroines fought toward endings both satisfying and believable. After a rocky start, I enjoyed somewhere around half to 2/3 of the stories, which makes for a pretty good collection.

Sword & Sorceress XXII continues the legacy Marion Zimmer Bradley began, presenting stories of strong women (stories that don’t bash the reader over the head with “message”) by both experienced and new authors. The trade paperback format feels a little weird, but I can get used to that.

All in all, I’d say this one’s worth buying, both for some strong stories, and to support one of the oldest anthology series in the genre.

I’ve also posted a longer review of the individual stories, for anyone who’s curious. Read more>>

Jim C. Hines

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