I vividly recall making my way through my father’s collection of de Camp, Burroughs, Howard, and Moorcock. I found myself fascinated by the fights, the life and death struggle, the importance of keeping your word, the value of revenge or justice, and of course the spoils of war. As a result when I was given the opportunity to review Thunder on the Battlefield whose forward says it was inspired by some of those same authors I had to say yes. I decided to start with Volume Two because a key element of each story is Sorcery which with a little stretch could apply to Science Fiction/Fantasy. Each of these stories also has a person or people doing incredible things for love, ok so it might not be love for a significant other like romance usually included but love nonetheless. Therefore, if you follow my mildly twisted logic this does fit in with our SFR Month. Volume One with the central theme of Swords will be reviewed next month.
NEGOTIATION by Jeffe Kennedy
This was unexpected. I found the choices the heroine made fascinating and logical given the options that were open to her. This was certainly an example of playing the long game instead of reaching for a quick short victory. I am super curious to see if/how she will get around one of the stipulations and the results. I think I need to check out this series because it looks like it contains some very interesting aspects.
THE FOURTH RULE by Alex Hughes
Ooh the price of command, trust, stubbornness, errors in judgment, and how fickle the willingness to follow through hard times really is. This was a short very poignant story and I think it is a good thing the heroine is determined because she has a rough path ahead of her.
THE RUINS OF ST. LOUIS by Selah Janel
Very fascinating world and adventure. Again, there was betrayal but there was also comradeship and adventure. I really enjoyed the twist at the beginning and the sense of hope as well as forbidden romance that was threaded throughout this novella. I need to find out if Janel has written more in this world with these characters because this really caught my attention.
MARK OF THE WARRIOR Steven Grassie
Sometimes it is the battle we fight on our own that means the most. The hero’s sacrifice will never be known to those he sacrificed for but he knew why and that is what matters sometimes. A very touching story.
ANGELS OF SCRAWL by James R. Tuck
And now I completely understand why one of our other reviewers enjoys Tuck’s writing. This novella really did take me back to the days when I first found several of the authors that Tuck mentions in his forward. I enjoyed the twists and the strength of family.
THE CHERUBIAN, THE LINDWORM, AND THE PORTAL by M.B. Weston
A very interesting look at a perspective of how humanity is protected from outside evil. In this particular case it was without betrayal but still involved the pain of command and sacrifice for something other than self. In this particular case I do wish I knew more about this particular world before jumping into the battle. It took me a while to figure out that some of the main characters were angels and not people fighting.
GRINDING THE GEARS by Brady Allen
This one also reminded me of the Conan stories but it was written more like someone recounting the story of a legend that then merged into the actual event complete with the hero’s thoughts/feelings. As a result, I had a hard time believing in the altruism of the hero. I really wanted to know what was it in for him.
BLACK ICE by S.H. Roddey
Very interesting. Once again we have a heroine and sidekick battling against terrible odds to try to save her people even though she never quite fit the role they wanted her to take. She had a lot of trust and faith in her sidekick even though she was blatantly the more dominant of the two. There was a sudden about-face at the end that I am not quite sure I believe is a true change. The potential is there but at this stage I am taking that individual skeptically.
THE TWO FIRES by Steven S. Long:
This was a different take on sorcery as power from the Gods. It took a couple of different aspects and combined them together. Well written but not my favorite because there was mention of errors made during the crusades but no attempt to rectify them. Only the certainty that the victors had the more powerful God. I did like the manifestation of power but I think I like the idea of the victors becoming a bit corrupted by the civilization they conquer. I also thought a certain individual changed his mind a bit too easily about providing troops.
ACROSS THE WILDS by D.A. Adams
A very fascinating almost coming of age story. I enjoyed the drive that the hero had as well as everything he faced on his journey. The descriptions were very interesting and I enjoyed the different micro-ecosystems. This is another world that I hope the author either has or will continue to write in.
DARK GENESIS by Mark Taverna:
Oh magic and the power and corruption that you bring. An intriguing take on what someone will do when their existence is threatened and then what they will do when they realize what they have done. Not an entirely pleasant story to read but very moving.
WHORE OF JERICHO by Steven L. Shrewsbury:
Some serious twists in this story. I enjoyed the well thought out justice. The antagonists certainly had it coming. And the final twist was perfect. This really was a great way to end this anthology. It provided a link from the barbarians of the fictional past to a much more recent past.
Like any anthology, Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery had some stories I enjoyed more than others. I enjoyed reading it overall because it was both a nice change from what has become my usual reading and a reminder of what inspired my imagination as a child. I have also found some authors whose backlist I need to explore which always makes an anthology a win.
I give Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery a B