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A Stark And Wormy Knight by Tad Williams

A Stark And Wormy Knight (edition 2011)

by Tad Williams, Deborah Beale (Editor)

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Title:A Stark And Wormy Knight
Authors:Tad Williams
Other authors:Deborah Beale (Editor)
Info:Beale-Williams Enterprise (2011), Kindle Edition
Collections:Your library

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A Stark and Wormy Knight by Tad Wiliams



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Not a bad book, but I didn’t love it as much as I expected, either. I think Tad Williams might be one of those writers that (for me) does epic tales a bit better than short stories. Still, some of these were very, very good, although others weren’t for me. There’s an introduction by the author, but no introductions or notes on the stories – reading the cover flap is helpful, for some of them – that’s the only place you’re going to find out what’s going on for a couple of them!


‘And Ministers of Grace’ – Really well done. From the point of view of a future religious terrorist/assassin who sees the ubiquitous advertising of the future as evidence of our sinful ways. As Williams notes, it could work well as the opener to an epic story. I especially like that the Christians and Muslims are working together against the science/technology-based society – makes sense.

‘A Stark and Wormy Knight’ – A humorous dragon story, full of playful language.

‘The Stranger’s Hands’ – A re-read – this also appeared in the ‘Wizards’ anthology, edited by Jack Dann. Probably my favorite story in this book. A village takes in two wanderers - a man who seems to have lost his wits in an injury, and his caretaker. Soon, it is discovered that some who touch the disabled man's hands have their heart's desire magically granted. Soon, the needy flock to the town in hopes of having their wishes granted. But with greater exposure comes the revelation that the village's miracle man is (or was) actually one of the most powerful, dangerous, and evil wizards around. Is there some trick here? A well-crafted and thought-provoking tale.

‘Bad Guy Factory’ – This is an outline for a comic book featuring a number of costumed superheroes. The cover notes say it was a proposal for DC. I would much rather read a comic book than a text outline for a comic book; and superheroes just aren’t my thing.

‘The Thursday Men’ – This is a ‘Hellboy’ story. (In text format, not comic-outline). I suspect I might have enjoyed it a little more if I were more familiar with the back story. A rather noir-ish tale of saving the world from an incursion from other dimensions.

‘The Tenth Muse’ - A battles-in-space story. A low-ranking crewmember relates the story of how a condescending and annoying passenger stepped up to the plate and saved his ship (and, possibly, a whole lot more) from a mysterious alien ship that unexpectedly popped out of a wormhole, guns blazing. Some nice twists.

‘The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (Or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee’ – If you are attracted by that title, you will probably like this story. According to the cover notes, it’s an homage to Vance’s Dying Earth novels –which I’ve never been a fan of, despite trying. A travelling mountebank buys/extorts some spells from a real wizard. Unfortunately, one of them rebounds with unexpected effects, and he finds himself bound to a dangerous, man-eating monster. How to extract himself from this unenviable situation?

‘The Terrible Conflagration at the Quillers Mint (from the diaries of Finn Teodoros)’ – As the title suggests, a man relates the story of a terrible fire that burned down an inn. He doesn’t really know who (or if anyone) set the fire, although he has suspicions. It’s set in the ‘Shadowmarch’ world, but I have to admit it’s been long enough since I read those that I’m missing the connections. (I suspect there are some important clues here to unexplained events in that story.)

‘Black Sunshine’ – This is a screenplay for what would be a really-not-very-good (and rather short) B-movie based on our social paranoia about drugs.

‘Ants’ – A horror story about a man who kills his wife and tries to cover up the crime. In a house infested by ants. Well done, if fairly standard.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I??ve been a fan of Tad Williams since I read MEMORY, SORROW AND THORN many years ago ƒ?? a series I loved back then and need to revisit soon to see if itƒ??s as wonderful as I remember. Iƒ??ve also enjoyed a few of Williamsƒ?? short stories that Iƒ??ve come across in anthologies ƒ?? especially one that was one of my favorites in my very favorite anthology: Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance. So I was eager to read more of Tad Williams in his story collection A Stark and Wormy Knight. Most of these 11 stories have been printed elsewhere, and I had read a couple of them previously, but if you donƒ??t already own them, this is a nice eclectic mix and a good introduction to an excellent author. Here are the stories youƒ??ll find in A Stark and Wormy Knight:

ƒ??And Ministers of Graceƒ? ƒ?? (Originally published in 2010 in the Warriors anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) Lamentation Kane is an enhanced human who thinks heƒ??s the hand of God. His current mission is to travel to Archimedes, a world that rejects religion, to kill their leader while sheƒ??s giving a speech. Tad Williams explains in his introduction that heƒ??s been thinking about writing an epic in which Lamentation Kane will be a main character. Kane is an intriguing invention, but not very likable in this story. However, the ending suggests that he may be a better hero in the future, so Iƒ??ll be keeping my eyes out for more Lamentation Kane stories.

ƒ??A Stark and Wormy Knightƒ? ƒ?? (From the anthology The Dragon Book, 2009, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois) A mother dragon is telling her son a tale of his great grandfatherƒ??s encounter with a knight. This is a playful story, full of puns and made up words. It was cute and creative, but Iƒ??m glad it was short because those invented words just donƒ??t trip off the tongue.

ƒ??The Storm Doorƒ? ƒ?? (First published in The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology, 2010, edited by Christopher Golden) I donƒ??t usually like zombie stories, but I did like this scary story about a paranormal investigator who suspects an imminent zombie invasion. Even though I anticipated the surprise ending, I admired Williamsƒ?? creepy atmosphere.

ƒ??The Strangerƒ??s Handsƒ? ƒ?? (From Wizards: Magical Tales From the Masters of Modern Fantasy, 2007, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois) When the townsfolk discover that a hobo camping in the woods outside town has the ability to grant the desires of the heart, the town begins to thrive... until a famous magician hears about it and comes to stop the nonsense.

ƒ??Bad Guy Factoryƒ? ƒ?? (Original) Tad Williams explains that this story is his idea for a DC Comics series, so itƒ??s written as such, with explanations for whatƒ??s to be shown in the art interspersed between the captions. Iƒ??d never read anything like this before (a comic book without the art), so it was interesting for that reason. I thought the premise was cool, too ƒ?? a training school for the henchmen of supervillains. Most of the characters were really obnoxious ƒ?? cussing and fighting with each other constantly ƒ?? but what you can expect from evil minions?

ƒ??The Thursday Menƒ? ƒ?? (From Hellboy: Oddest Jobs, 2008, edited by Christopher Golden) Hellboy is asked to investigate a strange death at a haunted house on the California coast. I had never read a HELLBOY story before, but if this one is representative, I should read some more.

ƒ??The Tenth Museƒ? ƒ?? (First published in 2009 in The New Space Opera 2, edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan) Tad Williams seems to have taken the topic of the anthology The New Space Opera 2 pretty literally because this story is really about a space opera. Itƒ??s bizarre and entertaining.

ƒ??The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqaveeƒ? ƒ?? (From Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance, 2009, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) As Iƒ??ve already mentioned, I love this hilarious story about a magician who gets attached to a deodand when his spell misfires. The purpose of the anthology it was written for was to honor Jack Vance by writing in his style in his DYING EARTH world. Thatƒ??s a tall order, but Tad Williams delivers.

ƒ??The Terrible Conflagration at The Quillerƒ??s Mintƒ? ƒ?? (First published online in 2002) This is a mystery set in Tad Williamsƒ?? SHADOWMARCH world. Itƒ??s a nice tale which gives some history and context to that epic.

ƒ??Black Sunshineƒ? ƒ?? (Original) This is a really frightening horror story set both in the present and the past, and written here as a screenplay. On a night back in 1976, four teenagers experimented with drugs and suffered the consequences. Theyƒ??ve lived with the horrid memories for 25 years and now theyƒ??re reliving that terrible night. If youƒ??re ever tempted to try acid, read this story first. But not on a stormy night like I did ƒ?? it gave me bad dreams, which I suppose is a mark of an effective horror story.

ƒ??Antsƒ? ƒ?? (From Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary, 2009, edited by Carol Serling) Hereƒ??s another scary story about a man who really needs to get his kitchen clean. This one is gory, so not my kind of thing at all, yet I was completely absorbed and I appreciated the ironic ending.

As you can see, this is an eclectic mix of stories and youƒ??re bound to find some you like here. I already knew that Tad Williams is creative, funny, and has a good sense of irony, but now Iƒ??ve learned that he can also write gory horror stories, clever comics and chilling screenplays. I enjoyed getting to know him better with A Stark and Wormy Knight and I recommend this collection if youƒ??d like to get to know him better, too. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
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Tad Williams is an acknowledged master of the multi-volume epic. Through such popular series as Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and Otherland, he has acquired a huge and devoted body of readers who eagerly await each new publication.

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