5 star An entertaining short story collection, January 31, 2012, posted on Amazon
By “Seregil of Rhiminee” (Finland)
A while ago I read and reviewed Karen Azinger's The Steel Queen, which is the first book of The Silk & Steel Saga. It was an interesting fantasy book and a good start for an enjoyable fantasy series. Now that I've read Karen Azinger's short story collection, The Assassin's Tear, I think that she's an author to watch, because she has her own writing style and she has a talent for writing entertaining and addictive short stories.
The Assassin's Tear is a charming short story collection, which offers something for everybody, because the stories range from fantasy to science fiction. Two stories (The Emperor's Shadow and Snakes and Ladders) are almost mainstream stories, but they contain speculative fiction elements.
Here's more information about the stories:
Prophecy's Twist tells what started the War of the Wizards (the events take place before the war). It's a story about a Kiralynn monk called Tyock who travels to the city of Azreal and finds out that everybody has been killed. He finds a memory stone and uses it to see what happened to the city. He sees how Emrath tries to save her city, but she is betrayed and the city is doomed to die in a horrible way. In my opinion Prophecy's Twist is a fantastic story, because it reveals what happened before the great war and what events led to the war. Karen Azinger demonstrates her writing abilities in this story, because it's a touching and well written story about what happened to Azreal and its residents.
In The Assassin's Tear the author tells about the city of the Mordant, the dark Citadel. It's a story about young Dolf, who wants to find a better place for himself and is willing to take risks for it. He's a resourceful thief and he knows that he can do what he wants to do. It's a story about courage and survival in a hostile environment. I think that all fans of The Silk & Steel Saga will love this story, because it's nice to read about the dark Citadel.
I'm sure that these two stories will be of interest to every fan of The Silk & Steel Saga.
The Emperor's Shadow is an archeological adventure story about a group of Americans, who try to break into the tomb of the first emperor of China in order to make the Chinese believe that their sacred tomb has been violated. The purpose of this mission is to destroy China and its power. I'm sure that fans of Indiana Jones and the new Mummy movies will like this short story very much.
A Man's World is an interesting post-apocalyptic story about miners, who notice that they're the only men left on Earth. It's a story about Danny and Bart, who try to survive in the new world without women (they encounter trouble, but they don't give up). I like this story very much, because the author explores what can happen when only a handful of men survive a mysterious catastrophe.
Pieces of Truth is a story about a time traveller called Linus, Einstein and Einstein's wife, Mileva. Linus has traveled back in time to meet Einstein, because he wants to know more about him. This is an interesting short story, because the ending is surprising.
Snakes and Ladders is a fascinating story about a woman's place in the oil business. This story tells about Lynn Gallant, who works hard, but never gets what she deserves. Because Lynn is fed up of being treated badly, she seeks help from a Tarot card reader. I like the way the author tells about the woman's place in the oild industry and how hard it is for Lynn to become accepted and get recognition for her work (the author explores difficult themes surprisingly well). The mystical elements of this story are intriguing.
The God Planet is a story about a group of Seekers who travel aboard the Psalm Singer to a mysterious God Planet to learn its secret. The Seekers don't have much in common, because they're different from each other. Each of them will have to travel to the surface of the planet alone to find out the truth. The God Planet is one of the best stories in this collection, because the author writes fluently about religion, beliefs and artifical intelligence (the android Varjis is an interesting character, because he's almost a human-like android).
It's a bit difficult to choose my favourite stories, but if I had to choose three stories, they would probably be the Erdhe stories (Prophecy's Twist and The Assassin's Tear) and The God Planet. These three short stories are excellent stories and their story arcs are satisfying. Snakes and Ladders is also a great story, because it's easy to imagine how hard it must for women to have successful careers in certain business environments.
The cover art by Peggy Lowe looks nice and it fits the book perfectly.
The Assassin's Tear is an almost shamelessly entertaining short story collection. I can highly recommend this short story collection to readers who enjoy reading entertaining fantasy and science fiction stories. I'm sure that several readers will find these stories fresh and interesting.
5 star Really Enjoyed this Collection, Jan 30, 2012, posted on Goodreads
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. The title story expands on the worlds of Erdhe, (from the author's books The Steel Queen and The Flame Priest), which I loved. I bought this collection for that story alone, but was pleased to find the rest of the collection was just as well written and captivating. Some of the stories are so well constructed, with great plots, conflicts, and surprising resolutions, that I would like to see them made into movies. As a professional woman, I particularly liked Pieces of the Truth, and Snakes and Ladders. It is amazing that Azinger manages to convey the profound insights she does, in such short pieces, and with such different settings. I don't want to give anything away, but the way the problems resolve is unexpected and brilliant.
The Emperor's Shadow was a great action adventure tale, and The God Planet is science fiction mystery at its best. A Man's World is at once apocalyptic and brimming with the promise of redemption. All in all, some of the best reading I've found in a long time. Highly recommended. Love this author and cannot wait for more from her.
4 star Outer Limits and Twilight Zone Revisited, Jan 17, 2012, posted on Barnes&Noble
By The Gnome
Despite the FANTASY cover (and the fact that two of the stories in this tome are HIGH Fantasy) the Feel of the stories here are more Outer Limits or maybe even Twilight Zone...
The Range of stories is Fascinating from The Lands of Erdhe (giving those who are already reading her Silk and Steel Saga a VERY well realized look into the history of the war of the wizards) To an Indiana Jones Inspired ROMP through a chinese tomb Gods Planet especially would have made a GREAT Outer Limits Episode. Some stories come off a bit Preachy but I somehow pictured a Female Rod Serling giving the Introduction to "Snakes and Ladders" and "Pieces of Truth" All in all a good series of stories and a great introduction to an Author that is bound to be writing many other books I will enjoy reading :)