Sunday, 20 July 2014

Unfettered - Shawn Speakman


Unfettered is a delightful collection of short stories by some of the biggest names in fantasy, who have all donated their work to an anthology that is raising money for Shawn Speakman's cancer therapy. The authors included have really allowed their imaginations to run wild and the book is filled with magic and excitement. Many authors have based their stories on their best selling series and they provide further insight into their characters for fans and an opening into their worlds for new readers!

The contents of the collection is as follows:

  • Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks 
  • How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss 
  • The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams 
  • Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn 
  • The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey
  • Mudboy by Peter V. Brett
  • The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian
  • The Coach with Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore
  • Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood
  • Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton
  • Dogs by Daniel Abraham
  • The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne
  • Select Mode by Mark Lawrence
  • All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
  • Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth
  • Nocturne by Robert V.S. Redick
  • Unbowed by Eldon Thompson
  • In Favour with Their Stars by Naomi Novik
  • River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
  • The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan
  • The Duel by Lev Grossman
  • Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks
  • The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman

The UK edition of Unfettered also includes a bonus story: The Twilight Dragon by Shawn Speakman.

The Good
Some of the stories in Unfettered are superb and I really enjoyed the ones that were linked to the primary works of other pieces. The ones by Terry Brooks were both very good and the anthology also included Mudboy by Peter V. Brett - a short story that introduces a new character that will appear in The Demon Cycle!

Of all the stories in the collection, however, my favourite has to be Unbowed by Eldon Thompson. Thompson has based his entry around a character from his Legend of Asahiel trilogy. The story was exciting and heartbreaking, following the tortuous training and initiation of an assassin, and introduced me to a series that I never knew existed! I'm now very excited to read The Crimson Sword, the first book in Thompson's series, and have already added it to my reading list on Goodreads!

The Bad
Although I enjoyed Unfettered and thought it was good overall, I did find it a bit hit and miss. Some of the stories were much better than others and (rather sadly) a few of them were actually quite bland and boring. I found myself skipping through parts of the book, which is a shame really as all of the authors are very respected and have published many fantastic stories through their career.

I have to say that I was particularly disappointed with the stories by Patrick Rothfuss and Robert V. S. Redick. Both of these men are among my favourite authors of all time and I find it painful even writing this - I was really looking forward to reading their entries, but they just didn't live up to my expectations . . . Both authors had tried to do something new and I feel their stories would have been much more enjoyable if they were based in the worlds they have so loving established in The Kingkiller Chronicle and The Chathrand Voyage.

My Thoughts
Unfettered is a bit inconsistent, but the good stories it contains certainly over weighs the boring ones and I think it's a nice little book to pass the time for avid readers of fantasy (in all of its forms). Furthermore the money raised is going towards Shawn Speakman's cancer therapy, which is as good a reason to buy the book as any! I recommend reading it, but it certainly isn't a memorable book that will stay with you for a long time after you finish it.

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