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Warriors by George R. R. Martin


by George R. R. Martin (Editor), Gardner Dozois (Editor)

Other authors: David Ball (Contributor), Peter S. Beagle (Contributor), Lawrence Block (Contributor), Gardner Dozois (Contributor), Diana Gabaldon (Contributor)16 more, Joe Haldeman (Contributor), Robin Hobb (Contributor), Cecelia Holland (Contributor), Joe R. Lansdale (Contributor), George R. R. Martin (Contributor), George R. R. Martin (Introduction), David Morrell (Contributor), Naomi Novik (Contributor), James Rollins (Contributor), Steven Saylor (Contributor), Robert Silverberg (Contributor), S. M. Stirling (Contributor), Carrie Vaughn (Contributor), Howard Waldrop (Contributor), David Weber (Contributor), Tad Williams (Contributor)

Series: Dunk & Egg (contains 3 - Original prose format), Lord John (contains "Custom of the Army", 2.2), A Song of Ice and Fire (prequel 3 - The Mystery Knight)

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I choose to view this as a pseudo-successor to Robert Silverberg's fantastic "Legends" anthologies. But it only rarely visits established worlds, and it is much broader in the genres it covers:

(3/5) The King of Norway (Cecelia Holland): liked the Viking setting but the characters didn't engage me. The action was nothing special and the ending was too easy.

(4/5) Forever Bound (Joe Haldeman): based on the novel "Forever Peace". Glances off the warrior theme, a story centered on passion versus love.

(4/5) The Triumph (Robin Hobb): a tale of the ancient Rome we know, or so it seems until a dragon's tooth is mentioned.

(3.5/5) Clean Slate (Lawrence Block): contemporary setting and a very different definition of warrior. Carried me nicely to the end, but in hindsight I don't find the central character's arc very convincing.

(4/5) And Ministers of Grace (Tad Williams): sci-fi often plays metaphor with our current society. In this tale of a fundamentalist terrorist, that veil is uncomfortably thin. Thoughtful ending.

(5/5) Soldierin' (Joe Lansdale): a Western featuring buffalo soldiers, in which a black man signs up with the U.S. Army to battle the Apaches in 1870; hilarious and well done throughout.

(4/5) Dirae (Peter S. Beagle): it takes a few pages to understand the perspective, but a solid story once you've grasped it.

(3.5/5) The Custom of the Army (Diana Gabaldon): "one for the fans" of her Outlander series I couldn't get past the first entry in, so it's not for me and overlong. But being Canadian and knowing a thing or two about history, I did appreciate the setting.

(5/5) Seven Years from Home (Naomi Novick): sci-fi tale about a galactic confederacy interfering in the civil affairs of planets they want to bring on board. Good morality theme, doesn't take any easy ways out, and the quality of this story is a step up. It's my first encounter with Novick and maybe not my last.

(4/5) The Eagle and the Rabbit (Steven Saylor): adequate Rome vs Carthage tale about men become prisoners and the tough choices set before them.

(3/5) The Pit (James Rollins): a dog story that falls a long way from the Jack London and Richard Adams trees.

(4/5) Out of the Dark (David Weber): the usual story about aliens invading Earth and getting more than they bargained for, with one extra twist. Longer than necessary and heavy on the military jargon, but it goes down fast.

(4/5) The Girl from Avenger (Carrie Vaughn): not much story here, but it sheds welcome light on the WASP program of WW2.

(4/5) Ancient Ways (S.M. Stirling): an updated rescue-the-princess story in the year 2055 of an alternate-history timeline. Thoughtful worldbuilding.

(3.5/5) Ninieslando (Howard Waldrop): preposterous premise with little to say, but possibly what I'd be daydreaming about as a soldier in the trenches of WW1.

(4/5) Recidivist (Gardner Dozois): distant future AI become god-like, with some great throwaway ideas that make this story memorable.

(4/5) My Name is Legion (David Morrell): a story of the French Foreign Legion that sent me to Wikipedia. Feels a bit thin but nothing's wrong with it.

(5/5) Defenders of the Frontier (Robert Silverberg): sparely told tale of frontier soldiers who have served so long that all has become nameless - the enemy, the Empire they serve and where they come from, even themselves. Happy/sad ending. This author's still got what it takes and then some.

(4/5) The Scroll (David Ball): fantastic hook that totally had me engaged and favourably comparing it to short fiction literary classics, but then the story became rushed and the ending is just all wrong. Too bad.

(4/5) The Mystery Knight (George R. R. Martin): the reason I'd expect 90%+ of us bought this anthology, and now you're better served by "A Knight of the Seven Realms" if this is all you wanted. I found it harder to get into than the previous D&E stories, and there's little mystery about where the story is headed. ( )
  Cecrow | Oct 26, 2015 |
Overall Summary and Review: I bought this collection for two reasons: 1) New Lord John and Dunk & Egg stories, and 2) I absolutely loved Martin & Dozois's previous anthology, Songs of Love & Death. (Actually, looking at the publication dates, Warriors came out first, but I didn't know about it until after I'd read and loved Songs of Love & Death.) So I was hoping Warriors would be just as good of an anthology… it certainly had an equally impressive line-up of authors. And while I didn't wind up loving this one quite as much as SoL&D, I think that was more down to the subject matter rather than anything having to do with the quality of the stories or the anthology itself. (I clearly prefer star-crossed lovers to warriors, which I probably could have told you before I started.) The theme carries through the anthology nicely, with the different authors each taking a different perspective on what it means to be a warrior - some were war stories, some were after-the-war-is-over stories, some protagonists were soldiers, some were fighting very personal wars of their own, some were men, some were women, some were not even human. There's also a nice blend of genres here - contemporary and historical fiction of different eras bump up against fantasy and science fiction, and some stories contain a mix of multiple genres. Overall, it's a really solid collection - some stories I liked more than others, of course, but like SoL&D, I don't think there was a single weak story in the bunch. 4 out of 5 stars.

Individual Stories:
"The King of Norway" by Cecelia Holland is a Viking story, about a man who makes an ill-timed and ill-judged boast, and must then follow through. This story put an emphasis on the fighting, which was well-written, but it could have used some development of the rest of the story. I never understood the protagonist's antagonism towards his former king, for example.

"Forever Bound" by Joe Haldeman involves a man who is recruited to be part of a specialist army unit - one where ten people link together, sharing each other's minds to control fighting robots from afar. I think this is technically part of the Forever War series, but I liked this story better than I did the book, since it doesn't really focus on the fighting hardly at all, but much more on the interpersonal relations between the soldiers who were mind-linked.

In "The Triumph" by Robin Hobb, a Roman general who has been caged, and left to die by the Carthagenians, refuses to give his captors what they want… after all, he'd survived in the face of much worse enemies. I liked this story - Hobb's a good writer and I really should read some of her longer fiction - but it took too long to get to the dragon.

"Clean Slate" by Lawrence Block is the story of a damaged woman, and just how far she's willing to go to set her past to rights. It's debatable how well this story and this protagonist fits the definition of "Warriors", but taken on its own merits, it's really effective. Really dark and sharp-edged and bitter, but effective.

"And Ministers of Grace" by Tad Williams involves a religious warrior, bioengineered to be an avenging angel, sent to infiltrate the secular world of his enemies and assassinate their leader. I thought this story had a really good blend between character development and worldbuilding and action sequences, although the ending felt a little too pat for my tastes.

"Soldierin'" by Joe R. Lansdale is historical, rather than SF/F, and features buffalo soldiers - freed slaves who joined the US Army fighting the Native Americans - in a scouting expedition gone disastrously wrong. I enjoyed this story mostly for its perspective - I'd known of the existence of the buffalo soldiers, but not much about them - and also for its touches of humor, which was needed in between some pretty bleak stories.

"Dirae" by Peter S. Beagle is a fractured piece involving a warrior who emerges from darkness in order to right wrongs and protect the helpless, only to fade back into forgetfulness once her task is through. I'd read it before, in Sleight of Hand, but it was even more rewarding the second time through, once I had an idea of how the pieces fit together.

"The Custom of the Army" by Diana Gabaldon is a Lord John Grey story, in which Lord John is sent to Canada to serve as a character witness but winds up involved in the siege of Quebec. I like Gabaldon's writing, obviously, and I like Lord John as a character, but this story didn't quite come together for me - too many pieces, and the character pieces didn't blend smoothly into the action pieces the way I would have wanted.

"Seven Years from Home" by Naomi Novik involves a diplomat/spy who is sent to live among the people who are forming one half of a nascent civil war, between a people who have genetically engineered themselves to live in peace with their surroundings, and a more technological people who covet their resources. This was a cool world, and a cool story, although it occasionally veered smidge too close to preachiness, even though I agreed with the message.

"The Eagle and the Rabbit" by Steven Saylor is another Carthage/Rome story, except in this case it's the Romans who are taking the Carthagenians as slaves, and the torments they inflict upon them - not only physical, but mental as well. This story was well told, and I liked the writing style, but it was fairly predictable, and it didn't really break any new ground in the "how far can a captor push a captive, and by what means" field.

In "The Pit" by James Rollins, the warrior in question is not human, but canine, a pit bull who was stolen as a puppy and brought up in the dog fighting ring. This was a hard one to read, although just as effective and poignant as many of the others, which makes me wonder: why am I okay reading about brutal battles between humans, but not dogs?

"Out of the Dark" by David Weber is one of the longer stories in the collection, about an invading alien fleet that attempts to conquer Earth, and is surprised by the resistance it meets. I really liked the idea for this story, and the way Weber told it in switching back-and-forth viewpoints from the humans' vs. the aliens' perspective. (And although the description of the aliens is essentially feline, I couldn't stop picturing them as the rhino-headed Judoon from Doctor Who, which made me giggle.) But there was a lot of military-speak, lots of acronyms and descriptions of tanks and guns, that turned me off a little. And the ending, while effectively surprising, felt too much like a Deus ex Machina cop-out to be entirely satisfying.

"The Girls from Avenger" by Carrie Vaughn is a story about female WASP pilots during World War II, and the investigations undertaken by one into the hushed-up death of another. I really enjoyed this one, although the resolution was maybe a little predictable. I like Vaughn's writing in general, although I wonder how much was the writing, and how much was the fact that Code Name Verity has predisposed me to like anything involving female WW II pilots?

"Ancient Ways" by S. M. Stirling involves a young Russian man who comes across a foreign warrior being chased by Tartars. They become unlikely allies, and then set off on an even more unlikely quest. A fun story of warriors on horseback, armed with bows and arrows and swords, and a rescue attempt of an unusual princess. I'm glad I'd read Stirling's Dies the Fire previously - the story contains enough clues to piece together what the Change was without having read the novels, and the main plot doesn't depend on that element of the worldbuilding at all, but it was nice to have the background.

"Ninieslando" by Howard Waldrop takes place during World War I, where a soldier trapped in No Man's Land is given the chance to envision a better world rising from the ashes of the war. This story was well told, but its central conceit (a group of Esperanto-speaking idealists living underground beneath the Maginot Line) struck me as too improbable for me to take the rest of the story entirely seriously.

"Recidivist" by Gardner Dozois is a story of a last band of humans fighting back against the AI machines that have taken over and begun to play, god-like, with reality. This story had a lot of cool pieces (like "what would happen if continental drift were sped up to a matter of days instead of eons?", and the capricious nature of the gods when dealing with mortals), and I liked the ending, but it didn't all quite gel together for me.

"My Name is Legion" by David Morrell is the story of the French Foreign Legion during World War II, when some Legionnaires were fighting alongside the British, and others were helping the German-occupied French government. I didn't know much about the French Foreign Legion, so that part was interesting, but I felt like some of the time devoted to the history of the group could have been used to beef up the characters and the story itself.

"Defenders of the Frontier" by Robert Silverberg involves a group of soldiers in a far-flung fort, reduced in number and with no encounters with the enemy and no communication from their own side, who must decide whether to stay or go. I thought this one was interesting; I particularly liked the ambiguity of the setting - it could be another planet, or a fantasy world, or some far-future Earth, and the protagonist could be human or alien - and the fact that it didn't really matter to the story he wanted to tell.

"The Scroll" by David Ball involves an engineer who is taken prisoner by a mad emperor of Morocco, and is subject to his murderous whims. Like "The Eagle and the Rabbit", this is more of a captor/captive story, a story of how far you can push a man before he breaks, than a warrior story proper, although the idea held by the protagonist that the builder of weapons is not responsible for the deaths they cause does seat it neatly with the theme of the collection.

"The Mystery Knight" by George R. R. Martin is a Dunk and Egg story, set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire roughly ninety years before A Game of Thrones. Dunk, a hedge knight, and Egg, his squire (and also Aegon Targaryen, nephew to the king), find themselves at a wedding, where they hope nothing more than to partake of the feasting before they continue their journey northwards towards the wall. But at the jousting to celebrate the wedding, it becomes clear that there is more to this tourney that might be apparent on the surface, and Dunk and Egg have found themselves squarely in the middle of it once again. I always like the Dunk and Egg stories, and this one was no exception, although they're always a little heavily focused on heraldry and family ties and who fought for whom during the First Blackfyre Rebellion… and even though I'm a big fan of the series, they always send me running to the ASoIaF wiki. But Dunk and Egg are such great characters, and the worldbuilding is quite compelling despite all the time spent on heraldry, that I bought this book primarily for this story, and it was absolutely worth it. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Jul 4, 2014 |
This is one of the better short story collections I've read lately. It does not measure up to Legends or Legends 2, despite the long list of accomplished contributors. Unfortunately, the editors took liberties with the subject of 'Warriors', and judging from the introduction, they did so deliberately. However, that leaves a collection that is only loosely associated with the title and purpose of the anthology, so what exactly is the purpose? I understand the idea that this was intended to be cross-genre and it accomplished that, but I would have preferred if it was more on topic. I am not usually a big fan of random collections of short stories, though I will admit this is for the most part, a good one.

Some highlights and lowlights:
"The King of Norway" by Cecilia Holland - a realistic historical fiction story about Viking warriors. A great way to kick off the anthology.
"Forever Bound" by Joe Haldeman - its hard to go wrong with a Haldeman story, and this isn't an exception.
"Clean Slate" by Lawrence Block - this one I didn't think belonged at all. A female serial killer story?
"Dirae" by Peter S. Beagle - not really a warrior story, more of a comic book hero type story with a twist, but excellent.
"The Eagle and the Rabbit" by Steven Saylor - not really a warrior story, and the 2nd story about Carthage in the collection (??), but good.
"The Pit" by James Rollins - pit fighting dogs. Completely unnecessary.
'Out of the Dark" by David Weber - humans kick alien butt, with a twist. Great stuff.

The last 5 stories are all excellent. "The Mystery Knight" by Martin is maybe the best. I think fans of historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy will find this collection good to excellent. ( )
  Karlstar | Nov 12, 2013 |
And lastly, read again for George R. R. Martin's "Tales of Egg and Dunk."

God. He truly makes me fall in love with characters. Truly how much I like Dunk may never change, but I can see how much of this story is the shaping of both Dunk and Egg. How much it will shape the history and the kingdom of the future from this point (and the past from the time of The Song of Fire & Ice).

I really felt this one though. The way the Eye is. How The Great War of the Two Dragon's literally effects everything, in a way Dunk gets but Egg doesn't yet. The way a great king can be made of a eleven-year-old boy with too much pride, who will be the only person in his family to truly know his people and his land.

I really do hope the rumor that there will be eight or nine stories of these to is true.

I will look forward to this. ( )
  wanderlustlover | Jul 24, 2013 |
It's rare for me to finish an anthology and be unable to decide which is my favorite, unable to point out the handful of weak stories. This collection was so strong that I don't think any of the twenty stories fell into the latter category, and I would be hard pressed to choose one for the former.

I enjoyed how many different types of warriors the collection presented, likely and unlikely, stereotypical and anything-but. My biggest criticism is that many of the stories left me wanting more, longing for the next part of the story of that extra bit of depth. But like a meal with twenty small courses, I soon found my attention distracted by the next morsel. Saving the novella-length GRRM story for the end was a wise move, because that tale satisfied my appetite and left me content. ( )
  shabacus | Jun 10, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin, George R. R.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dozois, GardnerEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Ball, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beagle, Peter S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Block, LawrenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dozois, GardnerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gabaldon, DianaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haldeman, JoeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hobb, RobinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holland, CeceliaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lansdale, Joe R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martin, George R. R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martin, George R. R.Introductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morrell, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Novik, NaomiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rollins, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saylor, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silverberg, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stirling, S. M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vaughn, CarrieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Waldrop, HowardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weber, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, TadContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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This major collection of never-before-published tales of war and warriors features some of today's most popular writers of fantasy, including Robin Hobb, James Rollins, and Tad Williams.

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