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Tempest: All New Tales of Valdemar, edited by Mercedes Lackey, is yet another in what has become a long series of anthologies of stories set in Velgarth, the world of Valdemar and Heralds and mind-speaking spirits who look like white horses and magic-casting gryphons and other marvels.

It's a fairly strong anthology, with contributors from seasoned veterans like Fiona Patton, Brenda Cooper, Rosemary Edghill and Lackey herself, and relative newcomers. Several of the contributors have offered stories which focus on characters they have created and written about before in these anthologies, including Elizabeth Vaughan's stories about widowed ladyHolder Cera, and Patton's tales of the Dann brothers and their adventures as part of Haven's Watch.

Good light reading for anyone looking for a quick Valdemar fix.

*This anthology contains 22 stories, 17 of which were written by women, two of which were written by men, two of which were co-written by both a woman and a man, and one by an author who chose not to be identified by gender.

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I've been having a rather rotten time these past weeks, and so it was with some pleasure that I was able to get my electronic hands on a copy of Crucible: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Mercedes Lackey's newest anthology of short stories set in Velgarth, the world where the Heralds of Valdemar and the Hawkbrothers and Shin'a'in and other such peoples live.

It's always enjoyable for me to revisit these places - there is, as I have often said, something about the universe Lackey created here that pushes my simple pleasure buttons.

As usual, Lackey's contribution "Vexed Vixen," was one of the ones I enjoyed the most. Others that stood out for me were Fiona Patton's "Before a River Runs through It," Jennifer Brozek's "Feathers in Need," Stephanie D. Shaver's "The Highjorune Masque," Elizabeth A. Vaughan's "Unresolved Consequences," and Dayle A. Dermatis' "Never Alone." But all of the stories were, in their own way, fun. Lackey knows what she wants in these anthologies, and she gets it from her contributors.

*Of the 18 short stories in this anthology, 15 were written by women, two by men, and one was a collaboration between a man and a woman.

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I just can't resist Valdemar. So when I happened across the latest volume of Valdemar-themed short stories, No True Way - edited as always by Mercedes Lackey, who can be counted on to srlect the stories that most feel like they belong in Valdemat - I just had to get it, read it, and finish it as quickly as I could. And it made me feel happy, as good comfort reading, like comfort food, should.

As much as I love reading new tales of Valdemar, I must acknowledge that the quality of the stories is a bit uneven, but all are at the very least a pleasure to read for a fan of Valdemar, if not not equally well crafted.Some of my favourite stories in this collection are:

The Barest Gift, by Brenda Cooper, in which we learn that even the smallest of gifts can be useful when the heart is good, at least in Valdemar;

Old Loom, New Tapestry, by Dayle A. Dermatis, in which an unlikely Herald Trainee on her first circuit uncovers the tragic circumstances behind a murder;

Consequences Unforeseen by Elizabeth A. Vaughan, set in the early days of Queen Selenay's reign, in which the outland wife of a traitorous nobleman learns how to serve her people better than her late husband ever did;

Written in the Wind, by Jennifer Brozek, one of the most heart-breaking tales of Valdemar I've ever read, in which two young Chosen and their Companions give all they have... and fail;

A Brand from the Burning, by Rosemary Edghill and Rebecca Fox, in which we meet the young Solaris, future Son of the Sun in Karse; and

Vixen, Lackey's own contribution to the anthology, in which Herald Vanyel makes an appearance and a Healer finds the path to healing herself.

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James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow, The SFWA European Hall of Fame

I particularly enjoyed reading this because there is so little science fiction available from countries where English is not the primary language. I would love to see more works from Europe translated into English. There is so much wonderful work we miss out on.

Denise Little (ed.), Enchantment Place

A great concept for an anthology - invite some of the best writers of urban/contemporary fantasy write stories based in a mall whose varied establishments cater to the needs of vampires, wizards, elves and other creatures of fantasy - and to humans who go looking for the fantastic.

Mercedes Lackey (ed.), Changing the World
Mercedes Lackey (ed.), Finding the Way

Valdemar anthologies. So much fun to read, there is a certain pleasure in coming back to a well-known secondary world and seeing so many different writers creating teir own characters within it. I continue to appreciate Lackey's generosity in allowing other writers to create in her world and sharing the results with fans of the world she created.

John Joseph Adams (ed.), The Living Dead

Adams has been putting together some of the more interesting themed anthologies of science fiction and fantasy currently being published - this one collects some of the best in zombie stories.


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