It's a bit odd to log an anthology when I've only read two stories out of it, but as I bought it for those two stories and have no interest in reading the rest, I might as well. The anthology is Legends II, edited by Robert Silverberg; the two stories are Diana Gabaldon's "Lord John and the Succubus" and Neil Gaiman's "The Monarch of the Glen." [*]
"Lord John and the Succubus" is a sequel to Lord John and the Private Matter, in which Lord John goes to the Continent as a liaison to the Hanoverian army. I think this story will seem odd whether or not one has read prior books in the series, but in entirely different ways. People who haven't encountered Gabaldon before may well wonder what this story is doing in a fantasy anthology: there's fantastic elements in the atmosphere, but no overt magic. (There are more overt sf elements in other books, including time-travel and ghosts; all the same, I feel the series is too obviously cross-genre to be labeled fantasy or sf.)
People who've read the first Lord John book may well wonder, as I did, at how the forthcoming middle book in the trilogy, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, will handle the events of this story. Basically, this novella appears to tell the complete story that was promised at the end of the prior book, "Lord John goes to Germany, sparks fly with big blond man" (to plagiarize myself). (Yes, the point-of-view character is gay; if you have a problem with seeing homosexuals as people, you shouldn't read these.) I suspect that the transition between the first and second novels is likely to be odd for people who haven't read this novella—"hey, we're missing a story!"—which seems unfortunate to me.
As a story, I like it better than the first Lord John novel, because it does have more personal tension. On the other hand, the unalterable boundaries of canon do limit the possibilities on this front: the reader knows that Lord John's not going to die in these books, because he's alive some fifteen or twenty years later, and further knows that he remains entirely in love with someone who is 1) offstage and 2) completely and in every way possible unavailable. I suppose I should lower my expectations on this front a bit, because of the stories' nature as prequels.
- Robin Hobb, "Homecoming", Farseer/Liveships universe ("Realm of the Elderlings," per the Table of Contents).
- George R.R. Martin, "The Sworn Sword," Song of Ice and Fire universe.
- Orson Scott Card, "The Yazzo Queen," Alvin Maker universe.
- Robert Silverberg, "The Book of Changes," Majipoor.
- Tad Williams, "The Happiest Dead Boy in the World," Otherland.
- Anne McCaffrey, "Beyond Between," Pern.
- Raymond E. Feist, "The Messenger," Riftwar.
- Elizabeth Hayden, "Threshold," Rhapsody series ("The Symphony of Ages").
- Terry Brooks, "Indomitable," Shannara.
Either I haven't read the source material, or I've read some of it and don't feel like going back into the universe for various reasons.
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