Review – Thunder on the Battlefield Volume 1: Sword edited by James R. Tuck

Thunder on the Battlefield Sword cover image
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher

HARK! to the sounds of battle. Mighty men and women who take their destinies with the strength of their arm and the sharpness of their blades. These are tales of warriors, reavers, barbarians, and kings. Lands of wonder populated with monsters, black-hearted sorcerors of Stygian power, and heroes who have blood on their hands and on their steel. This is SWORD AND SORCERY.
This blurb came from Goodreads

As promised when I reviewed the second volume, Sorcery, last month here are my thoughts on the first volume. I was looking forward to seeing how this with the focus on Swords differed from the other with a focus on Sorcery since swords were also present. I was also wondering if any of these stories would continue to remind me of working my way through my father’s collection of books.

The Horde by G. Jerome Henson
Very interesting opening story. It showed the visionary results of a leader planning a long game or strategy instead of a short quick one. The central battle was at least 20 years in the making and reminded me of some historical circumstances that were also part of a long strategy.

Paper Demons by James Requard
Unlike the first story, which was pure war, this had some elements of sorcery and mysticism. I found the unexpected twists fascinating. Yet like the first story each side felt they were superior to the other so they failed to take them seriously.

The Wolf and The Crow by D. T. Neal
So far this is one of my favorites in this volume because it reminds me the most of raiding the grown-up bookshelf. Lone warrior standing up against the evil conqueror and attempting to rescue the fair maiden **grin**. Granted she wasn’t a weeping wailing thing looking for rescue but determined to face whatever came her way with strength which was another reminder of the Conan era stories. The women in those stories tended to use whatever they could to survive and make their own way and this was reminiscent of that drive.

Forest of Shadows by John F. Allen
This one seemed disjointed to me. I had a hard time following the action because of the jumping between flashbacks and present time. I found it more like a collection of scenes than a short story. I also felt the inclusion of a certain character was very random and came out of nowhere.

Emissary by Marcella Burnard
Enjoyable read with a strong heroine. I liked the added twists so things were not completely straightforward. I also enjoyed the inclusion of big cats and the need for judgment calls instead of just taking action. Burnard also included a subtle hint of romance.

The Dogs of War by David J. West
Oh the Crusades, for glory and honor and loot and…yet in this particular story the struggle was more for personal loyalty and honor. It was an internal struggle so I found it fascinating that protagonist, amidst all the talk of glory and loot, was more focused on other things. Not that he was altruistic but he didn’t have the same motivations as the others in the story.

The Red Hand by Alexis A. Hunter
Oh wow. What a story of betrayal, anger, sadness, and more betrayal. I think this one had a stronger sorcery thread than the others but began and ended with the sword.

Where the Red Blossoms Weep by James R. Tuck
Umm so I need to check out Tuck’s backlist. The combination of battlefield gore, honor, death, and evil all came together in a vivid short story. I also enjoyed the touch of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” Or does that make my enemy my friend?

Thief of Souls by Loriane Parker
This was a lot of fun to read. Love, revenge, sword-fighting, stealth the perfect combination in a short story. I need to check out Parker’s backlist.

The Gnawed Bone by W. E. Wertenberger
This one reminded me of soldiers anywhere full of jokes, stories, sometimes crude, and always looking for a way to avoid the rules. Only in this case it slightly back-fired.

All the Lands, Nowhere a Home by Stephen Zimmer
Loved the strong warrior woman and how she didn’t tolerate certain things. I also enjoyed the berserker aspect but found myself feeling cheated a bit by the hints of physical attraction and no action.

The Witch of Rymal Pass by J.S. Veter
Sometimes it is better not to swear to the gods. Veter wrote a very interesting twist on murder and revenge.

Like most anthologies, I tend to find some stories I really enjoy and others don’t work quite as well for me. I thought as a whole, this group of stories tended to have some rather interesting twists so the tropes used remained fresh. Another thing I found fascinating was that fewer stories in Volume 1 reminded me of stories of yore than Volume 2. Of course that could be a result of my gravitating more towards stories that contained both swords and sorcery as I grew up. Overall I enjoyed this two volume collection and the change in scenery from what I have been reading lately.

I give Thunder on the Battlefield Volume 1: Swords a C

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