30th Anniversary DAW: Fantasy edited by Elizabeth Wollheim and Sheila E. Gilbert

DAW 30th Anniversary Fantasy Anthology
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It’s hard to believe that Daw Books has been around for 30 years: three decades that have showcased the best that science fiction and fantasy have to offer. To commemorate this milestone, Daw has released two short story anthologies, one each for science fiction and fantasy, comprising stories from the publishing house’s best-known authors.

Since Daw began with fantasy writer Andre Norton, it seems appropriate to focus on the fantasy anthology.

Unfortunately, many of the stories are set in an established world, and thus don’t break any new ground in and of themselves. Drawing on previous works as they do, one can’t help but feel that something has been lost. For example, Irene Radford’s “Draconis Ex Machina” gives the backstory to “The Glass Dragon” hero Prince Darville. It’s well written, but readers won’t care about someone whose history is told elsewhere.

Not all stories touching on other novels’ worlds are bad, though. Mercedes Lackey’s “After Midnight,” although certainly more enjoyable after reading her Valdemar series, provokes laughs as the author’s characters gang up on her and complain about their horrible lives. The story has some back-patting moments when Lackey’s Valdemaran alter ego pontificates about how hard it is to write, but overall, the idea works.

If I had to pick a favorite, it likely would be Jennifer Roberson’s “Ending and Beginning.” While the story outlines a new universe, and thereby feeling somewhat like a plug for the promised upcoming novel, the story draws interest by introducing the Shoia race. These fascinating folk can die seven times before being truly dead, and their bones can tell the future. The tantalizing hints of what may be revealed about this race will make readers eager for more.

The anthology is unusual in its drawing from so many previous novels, and this is its greatest weakness. One suspects that the book exists to encourage readers to look for (and buy) the aforementioned novels. It would have worked better to showcase the authors and have them write completely original tales.

As it is, the book entertains, but leaves readers feeling like they’re missing something.

This review appeared in the Davis Enterprise on June 20, 2002.

Series: n/a
ISBN: 9780756400705
Publisher: DAW
Page Count: 448
Publication Date: May 1, 2002
Acquired: Provided by the publisher