Review: Unfettered

Posted 15 January, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Edited by: Shawn Speakman
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

You define life or it defines you.

In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both.

Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hogdkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story Shawn could sell toward alleviating those bills—and suggested Shawn ask the same of his other friends.

Unfettered is the result, an anthology built to relieve that debt, featuring short stories by some of the best fantasy writers in the genre.

Every story in this volume is new and, like the title suggests, the writers were free to write whatever they wished. Authors contributing are:

  • Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks (a Shannara tale)
  • Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks (a precursor to the Word/Void trilogy)
  • How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss (a Four Corners tale)
  • River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (a Wheel of Time tale)
  • The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
  • Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey (a precursor to the Kushiel series)
  • Dogs by Daniel Abraham
  • Mudboy by Peter V. Brett (a Demon Cycle tale)
  • Nocturne by Robert V. S. Redick
  • The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian (a Vault of Heaven tale)
  • The Coach with Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore
  • Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood (a Summer Dragon tale)
  • Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
  • The Lasting Doubts of Joaquin Lopez by Blake Charlton
  • The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne (an Iron Druid tale)
  • Select Mode by Mark Lawrence (a Broken Empire tale)
  • All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
  • Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth (a Struck epilogue tale)
  • Unbowed by Eldon Thompson (a Legend of Asahiel tale)
  • In Favour with Their Stars by Naomi Novik (a Temeraire tale)
  • The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan (a Riyria Chronicles tale)
  • The Duel by Lev Grossman (a Magicians tale)
  • The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman (an Annwn Cycle tale)
  • and artist Todd Lockwood, who donated artwork as well as a story.

With the help of stalwart friends and these wonderful short stories, Shawn has taken the gravest of life hardships and created something magical. Unfettered is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right but it’s a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community—proof that humanity can give beyond itself when the need arises.

After all, isn’t that the driving narrative in fantasy literature?

I had been eyeing this collection of short stories for a very long time, but didn’t get around to picking up a copy for myself until this past year when it became available on Kobo for purchase (if I could’ve purchased it earlier, I would’ve). This book is part of the Clean Your Reader – Reading Challenge that I am participating in January 2015.

Firstly, this is a very impressive line-up featured in this collection, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to pick up this anthology. Many of these authors are pretty well-known on the bookshelves, in the genre, online. I’ve read novels from some of these authors (Daniel Abraham, Michael J. Sullivan, Terry Brooks, etc.) and others are either on my to-read pile (Blake Charlton) or on my want-to-read (Mark Lawrence). So for some this was an opportunity for me to discover some of the stories they’ve crafted, worlds they built, their type of storytelling. The collection isn’t strictly high fantasy, but varying degrees and types of the fantasy genre as well as horror (in the case of Daniel Abraham’s story).

Some of these stories tie into their series with established characterisations. In some cases, the stories are “deleted scenes” that were left off the final story (i.e. Lev Grossman’s “The Duel”), while others are separate adventures that took place before events of the novel (i.e. Michael J. Sullivan’s “The Jester”). Some were easier to get into than others, and like any other anthology some stories were more interesting to me than others. My favourite story I think has to be “The Sound of Broken Absolutes” by Peter Orullian; it was the first time I had read anything by him and the story and magic system were just really interesting.

Overall, it’s a great collection of short stories from some of the best and well-known fantasy authors in the genre right now. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre, a fan of any of these authors, or are looking for something new to check out.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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