Fantasy fans, rejoice! Seven years after writer and editor Robert Silverberg made publishing history with Legends, his acclaimed anthology of original short novels by some of the greatest writers in fantasy fiction, the long-awaited second volume is here. Legends II picks up where its illustrious predecessor left off. All of the bestselling writers represented in Legends II return to the special universe of the imagination that its author has made famous throughout the world. Whether set before or after events already recounted elsewhere, whether featuring beloved characters or compelling new creations, these masterful short novels are both mesmerizing stand-alones-perfect introductions to the work of their authors-and indispensable additions to the epics on which they are based. Beyond any doubt, Legends II is the fantasy event of the season. ROBIN HOBB returns to the Realm of the Elderlings with "Homecoming," a powerful tale in which exiles sent to colonize the Cursed Shores find themselves sinking into an intoxicating but deadly dream . . . or is it a memory GEORGE R. R. MARTIN continues the adventures of Dunk, a young hedge knight, and his unusual squire, Egg, in "The Sworn Sword," set a generation before the events in A Song of Ice and Fire.
Brimming with action and energy, wit and charm, pathos and joy, Silverberg's anthology of short novels from 11 masters of fantasy, six of whom contributed to the original Legends (1998), provides a dazzling display of the genre's variety and versatility. Otherland fans will welcome Tad Williams's The Happiest Dead Boy in the World as a chance to visit with an old friend they never thought to see again. George R.R. Martin's The Sworn Sword, which continues the story of Dunk and Egg that he began in the first Legends, will also please his readers. All the returning authors more than live up to their reputations, except for Anne McCaffrey, whose Beyond Between, an ill-conceived explanation of what happens when a dragon fails to return from between, strikes the book's lone sour note. Yet for all the returnees' star power, it's the new authors who truly shine here. Elizabeth Haydon's entry, Threshold, follows five doomed friends left to guard the remnants of a civilization about to be destroyed in a cataclysm after most of the populace has already fled to a safe haven: a stunning tale of courage and honor, duty and friendship, it may be the book's best entry. Robin Hobb's Homecoming, the story of the settlement of the Rain Wild River and one woman's journey to independence, is the other contender. Terry Brooks, Diana Gabaldon, Raymond E. Feist, Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman and Silverberg round out the all-star cast. (Jan. 2) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 26, 2004
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Excerpt from Legends II by Robert Silverberg
The first Legends anthology, which was published in 1998, contained eleven never-before-published short novels by eleven best-selling fantasy writers, each story set in the special universe of the imagination that its author had made famous throughout the world. It was intended as the definitive anthology of modern fantasy, and -- judging by the reception the book received from readers worldwide -- it succeeded at that.
And now comes Legends II. If the first book was definitive, why do another one?
The short answer is that fantasy is inexhaustible. There are always new stories to tell, new writers to tell them; and no theme, no matter how hoary, can ever be depleted.
As I said in the introduction to the first volume, fantasy is the oldest branch of imaginative literature -- as old as the human imagination itself. It is not difficult to believe that the same artistic impulse that produced the extraordinary cave paintings of Lascaux and Altamira and Chauvet, fifteen and twenty and even thirty thousand years ago, also probably produced astounding tales of gods and demons, of talismans and spells, of dragons and werewolves, of wondrous lands beyond the horizon -- tales that fur-clad shamans recited to fascinated audiences around the campfires of Ice Age Europe. So, too, in torrid Africa, in the China of prehistory, in ancient India, in the Americas: everywhere, in fact, on and on back through time for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years. I like to think that the storytelling impulse is universal -- that there have been storytellers as long as there have been beings in this world that could be spoken of as "human" -- and that those storytellers have in particular devoted their skills and energies and talents, throughout our long evolutionary path, to the creation of extraordinary marvels and wonders. The Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh is a tale of fantasy; so, too, is Homer's Odyssey, and on and on up through such modern fantasists as E. R. Eddison, A. Merritt, H. P. Lovecraft, and J. R. R. Tolkien, and all the great science-fiction writers from Verne and Wells to our own time. (I include science fiction because science fiction, as I see it, belongs firmly in the fantasy category: It is a specialized branch of fantasy, a technology-oriented kind of visionary literature in which the imagination is given free play for the sake of making the scientifically impossible, or at least the implausible, seem altogether probable.)
Many of the contributors to the first Legends were eager to return to their special worlds of fantasy for a second round. Several of them raised the subject of a new anthology so often that finally I began to agree with them that a second book would be a good idea. And here it is. Six writers -- Orson Scott Card, George R. R. Martin, Raymond E. Feist, Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, and myself -- have returned from the first one. Joining them are four others -- Robin Hobb, Elizabeth Haydon, Diana Gabaldon, and Neil Gaiman -- who have risen to great fame among fantasy enthusiasts since the first anthology was published, and one grand veteran of fantasy, Terry Brooks, who had found himself unable at the last minute to participate in the first volume of Legends but who joins us for this one.
My thanks are due once again to my wife, Karen, and to my literary agent, Ralph Vicinanza, both of whom aided me in all sorts of ways in the preparation of this book, and, of course, to all the authors who came through with such splendid stories. I acknowledge also a debt of special gratitude to Betsy Mitchell of Del Rey Books, whose sagacious advice and unfailing good cheer were essential to the project. Without her help this book most literally would not have come into being.