Legends of Australian Fantasy edited by Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan, is an anthology of Australian fantasy short stories, created by some of our most eminent fantasy writers, set in one of the worlds they have created, or may create in the future. With the likes of Garth Nix, John Birmingham and Isobelle Carmody (admittedly the three names I recognise) it certainly has some interesting stories. The others authors are Sean Williams, Kim Wilkins, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Trudi Canavan, D. M. Cornish, Jennifer Fallon, Ian Irvine and Juliet Marillier. I have been slowly reading this book for nearly three months, and I had hoped to finish it ages ago, but life for in the way.
I do quite like the cover, which you can see to the left in the small thumbnail size, it definitely has a fantastical feel about it. It is quite interesting.
So the first story in the book is To Hold the Bridge: An Old Kingdom Story by Garth Nix, and it was very interesting. I really liked it, I could understand what was going on without needing to read Old Kingdom and it was really captivating, and is making want to see what the Old Kingdom world is like and how this story fits in. I really like how magic is presented in the story, people are quite creative in how they ‘create’ magic in fantasy!
The second story, The Mad Apprentice: A Black Magician Story by Trudi Canavan was again quite interesting, a lot darker, but certainly engaging. Not quite add polished as the first one, but again it has made me curious about the world Canavan has already made.
‘Twixt Firelight and Water: A Tale of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier, was better than the last I think. I liked the story a whole lot more, it was more engaging and moving. Certainly a sad tale, but, with almost all fantasy stories, a happy ending. Once again, I want to explore more of the Sevenwaters!
Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thyrsland by Kim Wilkins, certainly was a different sort of fantasy compared to the last. No real magic, but more that epic fantasy sort of feel. Actually lots of these actually are set in the stereotypical fantasy time, olden times, with limited technology, with a few people who have some sort of power, with kingdoms, etc. I kinda want to see more fantasy set in modern times, or does that defeat the purpose?
The Spark (A Romance in Four Acts): A Tale of the Change by Sean Williams. I didn’t quite like this one as much, it just seemed a little rough, and not all that interesting. It was quite strange overall, not really my sort of story, but it did have some unique ideas, which made it alright.
The Corsers’ Hinge: A Lamplighter Tale by D.M. Cornish. I just read the first little paragraph of the story, and was hooked, it sounded like such a great idea! I was immediately reminded of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, even though the only connection is really about graveyards.
Tribute to Hell: A Tale of the Tainted Realm by Ian Irvine. Really did not like our enjoy this one. Felt too predictably and cliched, but that’s a hard thing to avoid these days. It just want creative enough, and I just was waiting for it to end. I stop quotient mind reading some of Ian Irvine’s work, since this wasn’t a good representation, but I wouldn’t be rushing to do so.
A Captain of the Gate by John Birmingham. This was quite unexpected for this anthology, but it’s what I’ve come to expect with John Birmingham, he is the master of alternative history, and this story doesn’t disappoint. Well, apart that it was only really an excerpt of a possible story, where the Manhattan Project failed, and the Allies had to invade the Japanese mainland. As you could expect, it ‘was’ a bloodbath. I hope it becomes a full length story, because it was captivating one I understood what exactly was happening. So hopefully Birmingham decides to continue!
The Magic Word by Jennifer Fallon is a very creative story, and I really, really liked it. It has multiple worlds in the story, and talks about the danger faced by all these worlds (all created by the Creator), and is a great little allegory in a sense, due to the ending (which I won’t give away). I realised that all the three worlds mentioned (not sure about that fourth one, maybe that’s a future story) are the worlds which Fallon has previously created, so I was exposed to all three of her book series. And I want to read them, because I really enjoyed this story, it was just so clever!
The Enchanted: A Tale of Erith by Cecilia Dart-Thornton was another really good story! I quite liked it, and it wasn’t too clichéd or predictable, which is always really good. The whole mythology was really interesting (where can I get myself a Thrimby?) so I’ll have to explore more of it, cause it’s unlike a world I’ve ventured into before!
The real reason I borrowed this book was to be able to read The Dark Road by Isobelle Carmody, because she has set this story in the world of Obernewtyn. And it provides some very interesting insights into things we have never seen before, and at the end Isobelle states that these answers wouldn’t be given in the other books in the series. It was certainly worth it, but I guess if you haven’t read The Obernewtyn Chronicles you’d have no idea what it was all about, and would find it boring. For me, it was riveting. So there are going to be spoilers for The Dark Road and I’m assuming you’ve read all the Chronicles up to and including The Sending.
So at first it was ambiguous, was it Hannah who we knew about and predicted everything, or was it her daughter, Hannah Junior, turns out it was the latter, which really did make things interesting. At first it sounded like Hannah was sent away by Evander (who was Cassy’s son) but in reality, it was her mother’s letter which sent her away. Speaking of Hannah’s mother, it was indeed her, who was called Moonwatcher (who we have heard of before, as Rushton’s ancestor).
I really do love the story of how Hannah Jnr and Mellow met, and I think it’s lovely that they got together and had two children, Nell and Ivory. Of course Hannah Snr foresaw these children, and had written about them in her letter to Hannah Jnr, which Cassy delivered to Hannah Jnr after her fight to Evander. That letter was very interesting, just how tempting would it be to read on, when she said ‘stop until x’. And finding your mother’s bones at Obernewtyn, and having to leave everyone behind, heartbreaking!
Maruman is certainly more complicated than alluded to in the Chronicles, since he was ‘sent’ to Hannah’s dreams by Cassy (I believe it was to Hannah Jnr), and she somehow ‘weaved’ him into existence. Another explanation was that he was some sort of other being, that did as he please, so there is a lot more to find about that cat (I guess a little like Crookshanks in Harry Potter, who wasn’t really a cat!). Also the fact that Hannah Snr was pregnant when she left Jacob at Obernewtyn, was quite interesting, further, the fact that she went into stasis, and then went on to find the Red Land! It makes me wonder whether the Pellanor Quadrant where Elspeth is headed is where Hannah Snr was, and where Hannah Jnr is headed.
And we now know that in the Red Land, Elspeth will need to go and find the special memorial chamber for Luthen, at least, that’s where I think a sign could be. Also it’s cool we know that Rushton is the great-great-great-grandson of Hannah Seraphim and Jacob Obernewtyn!!!
UGH I just love it! Honestly if you didn’t know about Obernewtyn before reading this, it would make no sense, it was for the fans of Obernewtyn, not for everyone else!