Reading Reviews: Warriors, edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

I’ve owned Warriors for a while now, wading through other books before finally getting to this anthology. It’s a doorstop of a book, seven hundred, thirty-six pages in hard cover format, I could use it to safely defend my family during the zombocalypse. I’m a fan of most of GRRM’s work, loving his Song of Ice and Fire series and liking well enough the Wild Cards books that I’ve read (which, I’ll admit isn’t many). Combining with my general well-regard of GRRM and that I like reading anthologies, I had this down on my Amazon wishlist and picked it up when I got a gift certificate for them.

The theme, if you couldn’t tell based off the single word title, is stories featuring warriors of one kind or another. Stories about Roman legionnaires, Carthaginian slaves, British trench soldiers in WWI make up some examples of the more standard idea of “warrior” but there are also some stories that take a broader approach to the “warrior” theme, such as a story about a dog involved in illegal dog fighting and the women who were allowed to be pilots flying Army transport planes around the US during WWII.

Warriors is a good enough anthology that I’d recommend it. Of course it runs into the same issue that I have with many anthologies where there are some stories I like, some aren’t my taste but are still good, and others that I don’t like much at all (however, I will say that all of the submissions were imaginative and well-written in this compilation, even if I didn’t personally like them). I thought Joe Haldeman’s Forever Bound was a neat little story, weaving in a tale of love and getting lost in another person in to one about soldiers remote-controlling mecha with their brains, while Cecelia Holland’s “King of Norway” wasn’t really to my taste (although the fighting aspects of it were well done). Robin Hobb’s “The Triumph” wasn’t really my thing either, it seemed to be a story that fought itself in that it was neither wholly a story about the personal obligation of friends to each other or a story about Roman soldiers fighting off a giant snake. I did enjoy Diana Gabaldon’s “The Custom of the Army” quite a bit, the idea of a gay officer in his Majesty’s Royal Army (set in the years before the American Revolution) was an interesting twist but the warrior aspect of the story was a little thin (as there was very little of the main character being a warrior in the actual, action-verb idea of the word and instead was mostly just an officer in the British Army). If there was one story that I didn’t really like out of all of them, it was “Out of the Dark” by David Weber. He’s recently expanded this novella into a whole novel which I may review later (I read it just before the new year) and I didn’t like it much either, I’m afraid. The story is about an alien invasion of Earth and features a sort of twist at the end that telling you could possibly ruin the story but it very much felt like “…and this happens and the humans win. Hooray!” Quite literally most of the story, both the novella and the novel version, conclude with the humans winning in pretty much the last tenth (or even a smaller fraction) of the book in an improbable fashion that just didn’t really jive with the rest of the narrative for me.

As I said above I found all of the stories well-written and if you’re a fan of anthologies I’d recommend it to you. The size of the book may be a little intimidating but I found that I motored through it easily enough reading one story a night. Up next for February is Jay Lake’s Mainspring and Kameron Hurley’s God’s War.

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