July 20, 2009


Edited by Robert Silverberg
Reading Dates : 19 Jul 09 - 23 July 2009

Legends re-released by Voyager books in 1999 is a compilation of 6 short stories written by and set in the fantasy worlds created by authors Stephen King, Terry Goodkind, Orson Scott Card, Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. Le Guin and Raymond E. Feist. The original collection contained 11 stories listed below :
  • The Little Sisters of Eluria by Stephen King
  • Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind
  • Grinning Man by Orson Scott Card
  • The Seventh Shrine by Robert Silverberg
  • Dragonfly by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Wood Boy by Raymond E. Feist
  • The Sea and Little Fishes by Terry Pratchett
  • The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin
  • The Burning Man by Tad Williams
  • Runner of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
  • The New Spring by Robert Jordan

The Little Sisters of Eluria by Stephen King is set in the Dark Tower world prior to the start of Roland of Gilead's story in Gunslinger. The story starts of with Roland Deschain arriving at the near-deserted Western-like town of Eluria. Immediately after his arrival, Roland is attacked by a group of mutants, creatures who had once been human, and nearly killed. Upon waking up, Roland finds himself in a strange hospital tended by a group of sinister sisters. Weak from his injuries and the drugs the sisters are feeding him, Roland finds his only ally in Jenna, the youngest of the sisters. With Jenna's help The Gunslinger escapes but not before witnessing the murders of 2 other patients, whose blood had been drained by the vampiric sisters. In the end however Jenna cannot escape what she is. The morning after they escape, Roland wakes to see only Jenna's clothes and what she was disperse as a thousand bugs.

Thoughts on The Little Sisters of Eluria. While a knowledge of the Dark Tower series is unnecessary for reading The Little Sisters of Eluria, it would be more satisfying. There are references to Roland's past which would only be answered by reading the Dark Tower books. But the story itself does not have any bearing on Roland's search for the Dark Tower. As a fan of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, the Roland in this story is not yet the man we will meet in the Dark Tower books. For the most part, Roland is only an observer of the events which occurs around him. He is less aware of his surroundings, which lead to his easy capture, and in the end he was the one being rescued.

Stephen King's The Dark Tower series :

  • Gunslinger
  • The Drawing of the Three
  • The Waste Lands
  • Wizard and Glass
  • Wolves of the Calla
  • Song of Susannah
  • The Dark Tower

Stephen King books with connections to his The Dark Tower series :

  • Bag of Bones
  • The Stand
  • The Eyes of the Dragon
  • The Shining
  • Rose Madder
  • Cell
  • It
  • Insomnia
  • The Mist (from Skeleton Crew)
  • Lisey's Story
  • Salem's Lot
  • Black House
  • Low Men in Yellow Coats (from Hearts in Atlantis)
  • Desperation
  • From a Buick 8
  • Everything's Eventual (from Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales)

Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind, prequel to the Sword of Truth series starts with Abigail from Coney Crossing requesting a special audience with the First Wizard Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander. Abby demands that the First Wizard repay a debt owed by his father to her mother by saving her family and the villagers of Coney Crossing who have been taken prisoner by Panis Rahl's D'Hara troops. Although Zedd knows it is a trap, he agrees to accompany Abby back to her village where he is attacked by a Mord-Sith, a creature capable of turning a wizard's power back against him. With the help of his ally, the Mother Confessor, Zedd captures the Mord-Sith instead and buys time for Abby to attempt a rescue of her family. Abby fails to find her family but instead saves Zedd's daughter, long held captive by the D'Hara. Just before Zedd unleashes his magical assault, his daughter is seemingly recaptured and brutally murdered when he refuses to surrender. At the same time Abby, who has realized that by asking Zedd to spare Coney Crossing she is condemning many more to the tyranny of the D'Hara, agrees to Zedd's plans to destroy the D'Hara with the villagers who are being used as shields. However, like the Trickster his companions calls him, Zedd never intended to destroy the D'Hara, only to create a deadly barrier to halt the D'Hara invasion. He has not only managed to save the villagers of Coney Crossing, but created an illusion of his daughter's slaughter in order to prevent his enemies from attempting to harm his daughter again. In the end, it is also revealed that it was Abby who owed Zedd the debt. Though Abby's mother Helsa never explained it to Abby, Zedd knew that the debt was owed by Abby to Zedd instead of the other way around. Zedd's father had risked his life to save Abby and her mother, Helsa.

Thoughts on Debt of Bones. Though the story started out a bit slowly for me, by the end of the story I was intrigued by the world the story is set in but especially by the character of the First Wizard. The idea of a prodigy among wizards or a selfless one who would choose to sacrifice himself for the needs of his people is not new but what makes him compelling is his ability to do the unexpected and deceive even his closest companions.

Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series :

  • Wizard's First Rule
  • Stone of Tears
  • Blood of the Fold
  • Temple of the Winds
  • Soul of the Fire
  • Faith of the Fallen
  • The Pillars of Creation
  • Naked Empire
  • Chainfire
  • Phantom
  • Confessor

The Grinning Man by Orson Scott Card. The Grinning Man is set in an alternate history America where folk magic works. While Alvin Maker and his apprentice Arthur Stuart are travelling through Kenituck, they come across Davy Crockett in a grinning contest with a grizzly bear. Crockett wins this first battle against the bear and leaves. Alvin and Arthur then follow a river downstream to the town of Westwille where they enjoy the temporary hospitality of the miller, Rack. After a week, Alvin who has been tracking Crockett and the bear leaves to find them. Earlier, Alvin had secretly interchanged a part of Crockett's and the bear's nature. This time, the bear wins their grinning battle and Crockett becomes the servant of a grizzly bear. Once back in Westwille, Arthur tells Alvin how the miller has been cheating the farmers all this while. Alvin secretly helps the farmers to turn the tables on the miller and leaves with Arthur. In the end, the farmers invites the grizzly bear and his servant, Davy Crockett to take over the miller's position upon Alvin's recommendation.

Thoughts on The Grinning Man. While I found the story interesting enough, there is no inclination to read more. Neither the mention of heartfires or the art of making in the tale stirred enough interest to warrant a second look.

Orson Scott Card's Tales of Alvin Maker series :

  • Seventh Son
  • Red Prophet
  • Prentice Alvin
  • Alvin Journeyman
  • Heartfire
  • The Crystal City

The Seventh Shrine by Robert Silverberg starts as a murder mystery which the current emperor or Pontifex of Majipoor, Lord Valentine decides to investigate himself. Valentine is concerned as he fears a conspiracy to upset the peace between humans and Piurivars better known as Metamorphs or shapeshifters. The rebuilding of Velalisier, an ancient Metamorph metropolis, was among the projects initiated to address the grievances of the long oppressed natives of Majipoor. The victim, senior Metamorph archaelogist Dr Huukaminaan's dismembered body parts had been left at a sacrificial altar known as the Table of Gods at Velalisier. The ritualistic killing leads the Pontifex to suspect the murderer is a Metamorph. In the end Valentine finds that the murderers was lead by a khivanod, a Metamorph high priest named Torkinuuminaad, in a misguided attempt to safeguard the sanctity of the seventh shrine in Velalisier. Among Piurivars, sea dragon also known as water kings are worshipped as gods. Thousands of years ago, 2 sea dragons had offered themselves as a sacrifice to the Piurivars of Velalisier to be slain. Not knowing this, the simple Piurivars of outlying areas had attacked and destroyed Velalisier. To this day, the killing of the water kings is remembered wrongly by the Metamorphs as The Defilement. Torkinuuminaad murdered Dr Huukaminaan to prevent the opening of the seventh shrine where the remains of the sea dragons are kept. Valentine commands that Torkinuuminaad be taken into custody to be judged by the Metamorph queen and the seventh shrine be sealed out of respect for Metamorph beliefs.

Thoughts on The Seventh Shrine. An interesting read but my sympathies are more with the Metamorphs. Many of Valentine's human advisors still harbor a prejudice for the metamorphs for their past rebellion, though the metamorphs had been wrongfully displaced for thousands of years. I wonder if the accord reached by Valentine with the current Piurivar Queen will last.

Robert Silverberg's The Majipoor Series :

  • Lord Valentine's Castle
  • Majipoor Chronicles
  • Valentine Pontifex
  • The Mountains of Majipoor
  • Sorcerers of Majipoor
  • The Seventh Shrine (novella in Legends)
  • Lord Prestimion
  • The King of Dreams
  • The Book of Changes (novella in Legends II)
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice (short story in Flight)

Dragonfly by Ursula K. Le Guin. This story is about Dragonfly of Iria, a girl born in the world of Earthsea. Goaded by failed sorcerer Ivory, Iria travels to Roke hoping to find out what she is from the wise man there. Although the Rule of Roke forbids the teaching of women, the Doorkeeper allows her entry and calls for a meeting of their Council to decide. The majority of the Council refuses to relent and asks Dragonfly to leave the Great House of Roke. However, Azver the Master Patterner and Kurremkarmerruk the Master Namer each asks her to spend time with them in turn outside of the House. In time, Dragonfly learns that when the Council gathered in the past to elect a new Archmage after Archmage Ged lost his power Azver made a prophecy of "a woman on Gont". In the end, they could neither find nor elect a new Archmage but the Master Summoner, who had summoned himself back from death seems determined to make himself the new Archmage. At the end of the story, Dragonfly returns the Master Summoner to the dead and reveals herself to be a dragon. She leaves to seek her true name among her kind but promises Azver to return if summoned.

Thoughts on Dragonfly. In order to enjoy this story, I think the reader needs to have read the Earthsea books. This story seems to be hinting at greater events in the past and yet to come but does not explain the incidents within the story itself. The most perplexing question to me was how did Dragonfly or Irian come to realize what she was ?

Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series :

  • A Wizard of Earthsea
  • The Tombs of Atuan
  • The Farthest Shore
  • Tehanu : The Last Book of Earthsea
  • The Other Wind

The Official Raymond E. Feist Website

The Wood Boy by Raymond E. Feist is set during the Riftwar saga. In the story, Dirk recounts to Borric the Duke of Crydee how he came to be dragging 2 corpses out of the woods. Dirk had been a servant of Lord Paul of White Hill when the Tsurani first invaded Midkemia. After Lord Paul surrended to the Tsurani, they lived a relatively peaceful if hard life under Tsurani rule for some months. Late one night Dirk was awoken by strange sounds and was later attacked himself. Waking up the next morning, Lord Paul and all the other servants dead. Believing that Lord Paul's bodyguard Drogen committed the murders in order to kidnapped Lord Paul's beautiful daughter Anika and steal his treasures, Dirk tracked them down and killed Drogen. Anika who was awoken by the sounds of their struggle, threw herself upon Dirk and was impaled on the knife in his hands. Dirk explained that he believed Anika to be innocent and had been tricked into eloping with Drogen. The Duke who is acquainted with Lord Paul and his daughter privately believes that Anika was the true mastermind. He chooses however to keep this knowledge from Dirk and arranges to find a new home for Dirk.

Thoughts on The Wood Boy. Unfortunately the story here was too short to have made much of an impact. Based on past experiences, I would say that Raymond E. Feist's best stories are those intertwined with warfare and the brotherhood of soldiers.

Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Cycle :

Riftwar Saga

  • Magician
  • Silverthorn
  • A Darkness at Sethanon

Empire Trilogy

  • Daughter of the Empire
  • Servant of the Empire
  • Mistress of the Empire

Krondor's Sons

  • Prince of the Blood
  • The King's Buccaneer

The Serpentwar Saga

  • Shadow of a Dark Queen
  • Rise of a Merchant Prince
  • Rage of a Demon King
  • Shards of a Broken Crown

The Riftwar Legacy

  • Krondor : The Betrayal
  • Krondor : The Assassins
  • Krondor : Tear of the Gods

Legends of the Riftwar

  • Honoured Enemy
  • Murder in LaMut
  • Jimmy the Hand

Conclave of Shadows

  • Talon of the Silver Hawk
  • King of Foxes
  • Exile's Return

Darkwar Saga

  • Flight of the Nighthawks
  • Into a Dark Realm
  • Wrath of a Mad God

Summary on Legends. Overall, I'd say the book is an interesting read. But if you're going to read works by these authors, you should go ahead and buy the novels rather than this anthology.

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