“What do you think a hero is? It’s just the right person in the right place making the right choice at the right time. Heroes aren’t born. They’re made.”
**r/Fantasy Stabby Award Winner – Best Anthology 2019**
A demonic assassin. A half-orc boxer. A ratman necromancer. Though they take many different shapes and forms, there are heroes all around us.
Bravery can be found in the most unexpected a subterranean dwarven city; the sands of a temple courtyard in Ancient Egypt; a besieged castle, a Victorian brothel, a goblin warren, the post-apocalyptic ruins of a demon-infested village. Heroes dwell in the shadows as well as the light; you just have to look a little harder to find them.
Who do they fight? Some heroes challenge injustice in all its numerous guises, while others hunt monsters both human and bestial. Others battle inner demons, the ghosts of their past, their deepest nightmares – or even the gods themselves.
Why do they fight? For glory? Sometimes. For honor? Perhaps. There are those who instinctively strive to protect those weaker than themselves, and there are others emboldened only by a sense of obligation, or the promise of wealth. Whether by the blade or other means, they endeavor to take down all who threaten what is good and right in their world.
By hook or by crook, through cunning or combat, with tooth and claw or iron and steel, they are all united in one goal, willingly or to live – and die, if necessary – a hero.
Choose your weapon. Fight for what you believe in. Never give up.
Nineteen fantasy writers gather to bring nineteen tales to life, each one a unique glimpse into a wholly original world.
Laura was born and raised beneath the grey skies of northern England, where she currently lives with her partner and two fluffy cats. She writes LitRPG under the pen name Demi Harper; her first novel, GOD OF GNOMES, was released in September 2019.
Her short stories have been included in anthologies such as LOST LORE, ART OF WAR and HEROES WANTED (winner of the 2019 r/Fantasy Stabby Award for Best Anthology). Laura is also the founder of The Fantasy Hive, and has contributed non-fiction articles to fantasy sites Tor.com and Fantasy-Faction.
People know I don't review my own books (and I do have a short story in this anthology. But I will use this to update you about this title.
Update 12/08/19:Amazon had a glitch and the book got set to $0.99 for a short time, but it's back to free now. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Update 12/06/19:Book has been set to free! It's available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and should be live on B&N's nook soon. Go grab a copy - it's already ranked #41 in the entire free store (which is hundreds of thousands of books)
Update 11/30/19: Book is released! This is an anthology that myself and 18 other fantasy authors put together to highlight the importance of heroes. Right now it's just $0.99, but we are working at getting it set to FREE and when it is, I'll let you know. For my part, this anthology has a new Royce and Hadrian short story.
I'm at a bit of a loss on how to grade anthologies. If I were to score every story in this book individually and then average them all out, this probably wouldn't 'score' as a five-star book. I'm getting pretty tired of assigning numbers and grades in reviews.
But the overall package -- the author selection, the various ways that the subject is approached, the vast creativity at work, the massive differences in approach that each author takes -- it all adds up to an incredibly rewarding, no-brainer, five-star read.
Even though I'm familiar with many of these authors from the previous works, I was happily surprised to discover that many of these stories were nothing like I had expected. While some of the stories took place in one of the author's pre-established worlds, the tone of each story felt new and refreshing.
There were a lot of standout stories. The anthology started strong, and ended with two of the best of the bunch. Some of my favorites include: - Joe Jackson's "Half Breed" - Jeramy Goble's "The Dwarven Dragon" - Jeffrey Hall's "Small Teachers" - Mike Shel's "Final Word" - Daniel Potter's "The Altar" - Quenby Olson's "All Ends" - Ben Galley's "Urloc's Redemption" - Laura M. Hughes' "Ratman"
There are several other stories I enjoyed: Phil Tucker's, Will Wight's, David Benem's, Dyrk Ashton's. There were a couple that didn't land for me, but nothing that I outright disliked.
With a book like this, I think the intention is to for an author pull some of their readers in and introduce them to other authors they might like, and in turn get a new audience for themselves as well. In my case, this is mission: accomplished. I haven't read 'Danse Macabre' or 'God of Gnomes,' but Hughes' 'Ratman' has turned me into a fan. I wasn't familiar with Joe Jackson before this book, and came away very impressed with his opening story, which set a high bar for the rest of the book.
Let's wrap things up. You're going to find some stuff you'll really love. You'll probably find some stories you don't care for. But if you're open-minded towards finding new authors to explore, you're going to finish this book with a lot of fresh ammunition for your next book splurge. And with the ebook being free, go get it. Put it on your phone. Read a story when you're waiting for your next appointment, or while you eat lunch, or when you're driving down the Autobahn--- uh, maybe not that last one.
So, yeah. Between the authors, the presentation, the variety, the skill level involved -- there is no doubt that the Heroes Wanted anthology is a five-star experience.
I'll try to write a longer review soon, but it's an excellent anthology. It gives a taste of various styles and narratives so that every reader will find enjoyable stories.
I loved two, enjoyed most of them, didn't care about a few.
The two stories that stood out for me are All Ends by Quenby Olson and Ratman by Laura M. Hughes. The first shines thanks to the gorgeous prose and unique atmosphere. The second is darkly funny and entertaining. Both are brilliant. You should get Heroes Wanted for them alone :)
Half-Breed by Joe Jackson - ★★★★☆ The Dwarven Dragon by Jeramy Goble - ★★★★☆ Fresh of the Boat by K.S.Villoso - ★★☆☆☆ The Death of Osiris by Dyrk Ashton - ★★★☆☆ Small Teachers by Jeffrey Hall - ★★★★☆ Is Dumb by M.D. Presley - ★★★★☆ Final Word by Mike Shel - ★★★★☆ What Needs to Be Done by David Benem - ★★★☆☆ Hardgrave by Phil Tucker - ★★★☆☆ What Needs to Be Done by David Benem - ★★★☆☆ Holding Out by Derek Alam Siddoway - ★★★☆☆ The Custodian by Matt Moss - ★★☆☆☆ The Altar by Daniel Potter - ★★★★☆ All Ends by Quenby Olson - ★★★★★ The Savior of Garden's Gate by Will Weight - ★★★☆☆ Indomitable by Andy Pelonquin - ★★☆☆☆ The Ashmoore Affair by Michael J. Sullivan - ★★★☆☆ False Heirs by J.C. Kang - ★★★☆☆ Ulroc's Redemption by Ben Galley - ★★★☆☆ Ratman by Laura M. Hughes - ★★★★★
The short story Anthology, "Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology" is very good in my opinion. Honestly some of the stories I liked less, some liked more, but the collection has some real little gems that are phenomenal. The ratings are 3 to 5 stars and I wouldn't want to separate stories individually. Overall my rating is a solid 4 stars as this collection deserves. Some will like stories that I didn't like, and some won't like stories I like. All in all, this collection will surely be loved by fantasy fans, because like I said, there are stories for every fan of this genre.
PS As far as I know it can still be downloaded for free from Amazon :)
3.5 rounded up to 4-stars. You'll note that I give a lot of 4 and 5-star ratings. This (being an anthology) was always going to struggle to get 5-stars from me. Collections of short stories are generally a bit hit-and-miss, and there are a few of both here.
That said there are some real gems here from authors unknown to me and others who I am very familiar with.
The introduction by Timadra Whitecastle was ok, though it didn't really grab me and give me a shake. The opening short story by Joe Jackson wasn't bad but it, like so many other short stories, felt like the beginning of something grander and unfinished. I won't review all of them as there's too many but I'll pick out my favourites.
Jeramy Goble - The Dwarven Dragon: gets 5/5 for me. If you like dragons then this is for you. It is well-written and has a clear ending, IMO.
Dyrk Ashton - The Death of Osiris': 5/5 for me. The master of urban and mythological fantasy flexes his considerable muscles once more in this short but satisfying tale.
Jeffrey Hall - Small Teachers: 4.5/5 for me. This was a different kind of hero story, I found it quite enjoyable.
Matt Moss - The Custodian: 4.5/5 for me. Keep your dreams alive.
Andy Peloquin - Indomitable: 4/5 for me. Good ending, though a little sad.
Ben Galley - Ulroc's Redemption: 4/5 for me. Pretty good but open-ended.
Laura M Hughes - Ratman: 4/5 for me. Good, and quite complicated but also a little bit open-ended for me to give it 5-stars.
There were one or two stories that I really didn't connect with at all, but I won't name them as I don't like being negative. I'll just say that I failed to finish or skipped through those.
Heroes Wanted is an anthology you can get for free on Kindle. It takes a look at heroes of varying sorts, some who believe themselves to be heroes and others who do not. I didn't bother to rate every story and the small reviews I listed are in the order I read them. I don't love anthologies honestly, but I do appreciate short stories from authors and worlds I already know.
The Savior of Garden's Gate by Will Wight This is a moving short story about Ziel. Fans of the Cradle series like myself are very aware of Ziel and his plight. This story occurs before Ziel appears in the Cradle series. Ziel is weakened and looking for someone to help him. He heads to Garden's Gate, a place he protected previously and also displays a statue of him. He finds Garden's Gate largely abandoned.
Ziel is such an interesting character and getting to witness more of his pain was worthy of a short story. To think he wandered around spiritually crippled for a year simply searching for help. It's amazing he hadn't abandoned all hope by the time we meet him in the main series
4 out of 5 stars
The Ashmoore Affair by Michael J. Sullivan A beautiful woman asks Royce and Hadrian to steal back a priceless necklace that was taken from her.
The Ashmoore Affair starts out like a typical Riyria story. This tale seems to be slotted between The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. The team is hunting Delano DeWitt after he set them up to die. The story does not go as expected.
3 out of 5 stars
Half-Breed by Joe Jackson Eli is a half demon who grew up in an orphanage. He makes his living as an enforcer to protect assassins. One night he is set out on a mission that sounds too good to be true, but Eli never trusts anything that seems too good.
Half-Breed was an interesting story in a world I'm not familiar with. Eli seems like a reasonable young man despite his profession. He works for someone who employs assassin's, but he refuses to become one himself. Eli is just trying to survive. He also clearly feels for anyone who could end up alone like he's been his entire life.
There wasn't anything overly special here, but the story has some promise. I may have to check out the main series.
3 out of 5 stars
The Dwarven Dragon by Jeremy Goble The Dwarven Dragon tells a tale of a dwarven girl who adored her father. Her father Tavin loved to tell dragon tales to his daughter and the other dwarven children. When he is killed by the dwarves enemy, his daughter Kelara finds a unique and unexpected way to honor him.
This story is not short on sentiment and emotion. I found myself feeling Kelara's loss and her interest in honoring her father through metal work. The other aspects of the story weren't as strong or well developed, but the author truly plucked some heart strings.
3 out of 5 stars
Fresh Off the Boat by K.S. Villoso Jorr has arrived in a new land to start a new life. He is meeting his wife who moved there 6 years earlier and has no idea what he is getting himself into.
Fresh Off the Boat is a story that can give a person whiplash. The reader is dropped in and before they even know anything, events begin to go wrong. I would call this a prelude, but it lacks the needed context to even do that.
I got this because of the new Hadrian and Royce tale by Michael J. Sullivan . But this Anthology is as good as it gets. A wide variety of tales by authors who were new to me save a few. But each tale had me wanting more of the story. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, you need to pick this up.
This is the second indie fantasy anthology I read this year and as with the other one I would highly recommend it. There were ones I enjoyed, ones I really loved, and ones that didn't work for me, but overall the experience was worth it. Here are my thoughts on each of the stories in the order in which they appear in the anthology:
Half-Breed by Joe Jackson This was a good tale to the start the anthology with. It follows Eli, an orphan who found work with a gang protecting their assassins when they go out on missions. When an assassination he's involved in starts to go wrong he is thrown into an adventure in which he beings to learn more about his city and himself. Great stuff.
The Dwarven Dragon by Jeramy Goble Another great story. This time it follows a young dwarf in the mines. What I loved about this story was that it was about her relationships with her family and friends, her skills, her dreams, and her slow growth and determination. It went at a slow pace, with hardly a battle in sight for the first 90% of the story, but never got boring. I cared about the character and wanted her to succeed in her efforts. And in the end there's a big showy finale for those who love the more action-packed aspects of fantasy. One of the stand-outs in the this anthology in my opinion.
Fresh off the Boat by K. S. Villoso This was another story that was more about the character and his growth than the action or magic. It was a tale about a man who had just moved from his own land to this empire, a man who was reuniting with his wife and trying to find his footing in a place that was completely unfamiliar to him. At one point half-way through I was starting to feel like he had been up to way too much just on his first night in the empire, but the story flows along so well that I didn't really care, just wanted to see what happened next. The story was also unique in the feel and tone. Another great tale.
Paternus: The Death of Osiris by Dyrk Ashton This one didn't work for me at all. It was all a whole bunch of gods and half-gods in ancient Egypt trying to outsmart each other or keep each other in check or whatever, which is not a thing I enjoy at all.
Small Teacher by Jeffrey Hall I absolutely loved this one. Great, great story with a protagonist that's very easy to empathize with, but who is also flawed in a couple of different ways. The story is great and well paced, but also shows a deep world-building with all kinds of creatures and magic that's revealed in a smooth way as the action progresses.
Is Dumb by M. D. Presley This story has something to say about the genre and about the meaning of the word hero. To that end we start with what seems to be almost a generic set up for the story and then suddenly realize that not everything is as it seems. Definitely recommend.
Final Word by Mike Shel For the part of this I managed to read I felt like I was in a Sanderson or GGK novel style-wise. But I really didn't get very far. Maybe there was a turning point that would have made it worth it or put a twist on it or whatever, but I really just couldn't press on with this one past the first few pages because of the subject matter.
What Needs to be Done by David Benem A bunch of heroes gather to hunt down demons that are causing havoc in this fantasy world. Lots of battles and monsters and such, but at the same time it also explores the main character's struggle with bravery and cowardice and shows a bit of backstory for him. Overall, a good tale.
Hardgrave by Phil Tucker A bloodthirsty general is about to arrive in a town. He's razed all the previous towns to the ground, basically, so there's a sense of impending doom, but at the same time it's a quiet story about being a hero and doing what's right and about the effects of war on ordinary people. Great story.
Holding Out by Derek Alan Siddoway This was unbelievably boring for me and it just wouldn't end. I ended up skimming a lot of it and man, was it pointless. It was basically about a cowboy roaming around on his own - just existing for pages and pages and pages - but he rode a gryphon instead of a horse.
The Custodian by Matt Moss Lowly custodian in a medieval castle longs to become a hero. It was a little ridiculous to me that this dude didn't realize how messed up his society was and actually wanted to be accepted as a hero so badly. I mean, these people were extremely nasty to him at every turn and yet he longed to dedicate his life to saving them... why? In that sense it was extremely cliche and didn't really say anything profound about anything, seemed a bit too... trapped in the genre. But at least there were things happening constantly unlike the previous story in this anthology.
The Altar by Daniel Potter I also didn't get very far into this. Skipped to the end and was glad I hadn't bothered. Who knows, I may have missed something interesting, but I don't have enough hours in my life to spare slogging through something that immediately puts me off.
All End by Quenby Olsen I picked up a full length book by Quenby Olsen on a free promo a few weeks ago and started in and then started to feel very creeped out. Her writing is excellent, but I just... don't really have a stomach for horror and I didn't feel like I wanted to continue that story and test it out.
So I was excited to read this shorter tale because I felt that it would, hopefully be short enough a dose of creepy for me to be able to handle.
Anyway, it was good. Great, actually. Good characterization, interesting magical dilemma, a bit of mystery and a backstory for the main character. A lot was packed into such a short story and even though it's not my usual genre, as I mentioned, I really enjoyed this one!
The Savior of Garen's Gate by Will Wight This was a decent stand-alone tale about a hero struggling with his own failures and mortality. I got the sense that it would work much better or be more meaningful if I was already invested in the world or characters, if it was some prologue or epilogue to a larger series. And maybe that's what it is. Anyway, not bad at all.
Indomitable by Andy Peloquin Reading this story felt very much like reading a traditionally published fantasy story. You know what I'm talking about: there's a set amount of romance that has to be in them, a certain type of story arc, lots of borrowing of words and names, in this case from Arabic, just for setting, etc. Ok story, but not super memorable and didn't have much to say about the genre or much to make me care.
The Ashmoore Affair by Michael J. Sullivan Ok, but, again, not too exciting.
False Heirs by J. C. Kang This story was at the same time much more well-written than some of the others in this anthology but also much more disappointing. It wasn't really its own stand-alone thing. It wasn't even a prequel to an existing series. It was just the first few pages of a book... which is fine, but not in an anthology where everything else stands alone so well.
Ulroc's Redemption by Ben Galley Again, this one was well-written, but didn't really work for me because of my own genre preferences. It just wasn't my type of thing. It felt like the world building was a thin layer that had been applied over the actual setting the author had in mind. Also not sure where redemotion comes into it.
Ratman by Laua M. Hughes I almost quit in the first half. A couple of times. Very dark/gross and seemingly pointless. It picked up a bit in the second half or second one quarter, but just became a more typical/cliche type story instead. Anyway, really not my thing.
As you can see, overall, there were things I loved, things I hated, and also some meh stories, but overall it was pretty good. Definitely check it out if you're into fantasy! There's a little bit of everything and some very engaging and unique gems to discover within.
A nice albeit very short short story featuring Michael J. Sullivan's Hadrian and Royce (Riyria). It is part of the Riyria Chronicles. There’s so little actual story, I won’t summarise it here. Suffice it to say you won’t be disappointed even though there’s a slight deja-vu feeling…
Thankfully, the “Heroes Wanted” anthology which it is part of can be gotten for free from Amazon fairly often and so you have nothing to lose.
Four out of five stars for a happy reunion with Riyria!
“What do you think a hero is? It’s just the right person in the right place making the right choice at the right time. Heroes aren’t born, young man: they’re made.”
Like most anthologies, variable quality, but a few stories stand out. Most notably the first and last stories: “Half Breed” by Joe Jackson, “Is Dumb” by M. D. Presley, and “Ratman” by Laura M Hughes. The best turn many of the hero clichés upside down.
“And don’t forget that we’re heroes now. The pretty lady said so, and she was looking at me when she said that.”
This Anthology was amazing. The authors all captured eloquently what a hero sometimes isn’t, but also what makes them a hero in the stories. Read it if you want a gamut of emotions and feelings. Don’t if you want life to be dull.
When reading this collection, I was frustrated that there were no descriptions or synopses of the stories themselves, so I wrote my own. Here they are, as well as my honest review of each story and page counts from my Kindle version of the collection.
Story #1: Half-Breed by Joe Jackson A half-demon Eli goes on a job for the Assassin’s Guild, as a way to prove his worth to the Devil Queen, the true power behind the city and its many cutthroats. Harassed by his fellow guild members for his particular half-demon heritage, Eli has to decide who he’ll help after he uncovers the first threads of a plot. 30 pages (★★★ Three stars: This one has a decent story that takes place in an interesting world, but it didn’t draw me in as much as I would’ve hoped.)
Story #2: The Dwarven Dragon By Jeramy Goble Raised on her father’s stories of dragons and danger, the young dwarf Kelara tries to find a way to honor him after his passing. The mechanical dragon she begins forging in secret may just come in handy when her mountain home is under attack. 34 pages (★★★★★ Five stars: This one had a very cozy atmosphere that caught my attention, and I admired the character’s dedication to her craft.)
Story #3: Fresh Off the Boat By K.S. Villoso Jorr takes his first steps on Empire soil, and nothing seems to go right. Six years Jorr has been waiting to see his wife Neri; now that she is in front of him, he must struggle with the men she seems to be overly friendly towards and the city guards who believe him to be part of a conspiracy. Just what has Neri gotten him involved in? 21 pages (★ One star: This story felt disjointed and didn’t flow well to me; I wasn’t really drawn in by the action or the characters.)
Story #4: PATERNUS: The Death of Osiris By Dyrk Ashton Hem-Hor definitely ruined Horus’ day with the news of Osiris’ murder. There is no questioning who is at fault, since nefarious Set has claimed credit for the deed. But who is the dark and mysterious power Baphomet that looms behind Set’s conquest? Hem-Hor, in this interpretation of the Egyptian mythos, charges himself with bringing justice to Osiris’ death and protecting his people from similar threats. 26 pages (★ One star: This story took what I thought would be an interesting theme, Egyptian mythology, and made a clunky story out of it that really dragged on for me. It picks up closer to the end, but that didn’t redeem the story in my eyes.)
Story #5: Small Teachers by Jeffrey Hall Heroes are not born; they are made. Crippled and palsied Liddle not only knows this, but has embraced it, as a part of the local fighters’ guild. Unfortunately, Liddle’s traps and tricks that he uses to make up for his condition will never work in a real fight, or at least according to the guild-master, they won’t. When the guild-master sends Liddle out on what should be a simple job to test his worth, Liddle learns from an unexpected teacher that what’s up his sleeve is no substitute for true courage. 37 pages (★★★ Three stars: I enjoyed this story, but the message didn’t fully resonate with me.)
Story #6: Is Dumb By M.D. Presley Does courage really get you anywhere? A kobold, with his various traveling companions, recounts his story to an audience of goblins. But will convincing the den of creatures of the value of valor actually help them in the long run? 13 pages (★★★★ Four stars: This story had a very nice twist that I didn’t see coming, and I appreciated how the story built up to it.)
Story #7: Final Word By Mike Shel Experienced alchemist Lumari travels alongside a legion, aiding soldiers and assembling new remedies from the plants and traditions of the barbarian-run region. Will her quest to discover the true value of and capture for herself Man’s Final Breath, described by local shamans as a remedy even for death, land her in more trouble than it’s worth? 33 pages (★★ Two stars: This story had an interesting plot going on, but I wasn’t engaged by the characters or world.)
Story #8: What Needs to Be Done By David Benem Overrun with demons that indiscriminately slaughter those in their way, Brendall’s home is becoming a battleground for mercenaries, heroes, and monsters. When called to fight alongside famous demon-slayer Amryst Pale, Brendall joins the fray. Will he stay and do what needs to be done to rid the land of such fiends, or will he do as before, and flee the sight of the same kind of monster that killed his brother? 26 pages (★★★ Three stars: I enjoyed the setting, which gave off Western—the genre, not the hemisphere—vibes, but the plot felt see-through to me.)
Story #9: Hardgrave By Phil Tucker The small village of Hardgrave has grown even smaller with the imminent arrival of the general’s army, which has, thus far, burnt down every town in their path. The eager opportunist he is, Bernard spent his morning bathing in the riches offered by newly-abandoned homes. What will become of the left-behinds: those with no means and nowhere to go? 15 pages (★★★★ Four stars: This one was short and sweet, with a very engaging atmosphere that managed be both suspenseful and solemn, to me.)
Story #10: Holding Out By Derek Alan Siddoway Former hero and current gryphon-rider Aleron makes a living wrangling criminals for the local constable. A while since he’s had to care about anyone besides himself and his gryphon, he finds himself lending a hand to a hardworking family on the frontier more often than not. 32 pages (★★★★★ Five stars: I loved this one! The action was well-paced with backstory and worldbuilding. I loved the Western setting, and I really was able to sympathize with the protagonist Aleron. This story made me want to engage further with the world the author created.)
“No matter how bad life got, it still had its moments,” page 254, Kindle eBook version
Story #11: The Custodian By Matt Moss Young Thomas dreams of a life beyond scrubbing floors and sweeping halls like his father. What would happen if he had the chance to prove himself a capable warrior and, say, save a princess? 28 pages (★★★ Three stars: This one had an interesting twist that I felt came naturally but was predictable. Thomas is a very typical character to me and didn’t interest me much, but the story was well-written and moved quickly.)
Story #12: The Altar By Daniel Potter Cynic and warrior, Dranis is facing a tribunal after upsetting a cleric with a poorly-timed outburst about—ah, well, let’s just say it didn’t paint the gods in the best light. When he sees something spectacular during a particularly strange thunderstorm and deserts his post, he may be in more trouble than he knows, especially if the gods were listening. 25 pages (★★★★★ Five stars: This story made me laugh out-loud at least a few times, which is impressive for only 25 pages! The atmosphere is very well-set by Potter, and I found Dranis to be an engaging and gruff character. I would absolutely read more set in this world.)
“If you could sell his emotional state to a fey lord, they might give you their daughter’s hand in marriage. The daughter would then eat you, but I digress,” page 297, Kindle eBook version
Story #13: All Ends By Quenby Olson Sometime in the night, in the dark arms of a London whorehouse, a woman is murdered. Upon morning, Marit discovers the girl dead in her room and calls the police, not that the are any help when the victim is a prostitute and the suspected killer is a gentleman. Knowing that the authorities will never bring him to justice, Marit must seek out the murderer on her own. 31 pages (★★ Two stars: This story was one of the few stories that didn’t read as fantasy, which was a good thing because it helped add some variety to the collection. The twist at the end felt unsatisfying to me because I never fully engaged with the characters, and I think I would’ve enjoyed this story more if it took more of a detective route. The setting and atmosphere were the highlights of this story.)
Story #14: The Savior of Garden’s Gate By Will Wight The great hero of Garden’s Gate, who once wiped out an entire hoard of dreadbeasts, Ziel is now little more than a spent magician. Returning to the place he was once called Lord, he finds only remnants of the vibrantly artistic and magical community that had thrived under his protection. Can Ziel draw upon the hero he used to be and bring hope to those few that remain? 14 pages (★★ Two stars: sometimes the promise of a world and story behind the one being told can draw you into a world further and make the story richer for it; but, in this case, I felt more like I was left out of the loop.)
Story #15: Indomitable By Andy Peloquin Enwan in a miner with aspirations to become a warrior, an Indomitable, something he will never achieve as a member of the lowly Eeraqi caste. Taught in secret by the Sentinel’s daughter Imara, Enwan has to hide not only his heroic dreams, but also his burgeoning romance. 30 pages (★★★★ Four stars: I did not expect to like this story because the fist couple scenes drew together many fantasy tropes of which I’m not the biggest fan. The action was very well-written, though, and really drew me in. I appreciated how the story didn’t go the way I expected it to based on the first page, but still drew on those elements.)
Story #16: The Ashmoore Affair By Michael J. Sullivan Thieves Hadrian and Royce were only seeking out a pint in the wake of a failed scheme, when beautiful woman Tess Rochambeau marched into the backwoods bar they occupied. She demanded that the pair were heroes who would help her recover a family heirloom held by the villainous Baron Ashmoore. Though she’d offered to pay them handsomely, the task was beginning to look more and more like a trap the longer Hadrian and Royce were at it. 21 pages (★★★★★ Five stars: Apparently this story takes place within Hadrian and Royce’s larger world of the Riyria that author Michael J. Sullivan created, but I didn’t feel it was necessary to read any of the other books to understand this story; The Ashmoore Affair does a decent job of pulling you into the smaller story while still giving the (true) impression of both a wider world and a history for the characters. I can also say that the direction the story took was very engaging and brought the characters to a believable moral dilemma.)
“Her eyes were devastating. Large, dark, and inviting, they were the sort of open windows that decent people draped,” Page 399, Kindle eBook version.
Story #17: False Heirs By J.C. Kang Zheng Tian is a 16-year-old assassin for the Black Lotus Clan. Tasked, along with his clan sister Jie, to kill a young musician beggar Li Bin, Tian begins to wonder if there’s more to his mark than meets the eye and what to do with what he discovers. 24 pages (★★★★ Four stars: This was a very enjoyable story set in a richly-built Eastern-inspired setting. Every character felt very real to me, even those who were only on the page for a few lines of dialogue. I was intrigued by the developing mystery that Tian wanted to investigate, but I didn’t feel like this short story was a true standalone. For reference, False Heirs exists in the Dragon Songs Saga Universe, which follows Tian’s adventures and reveals more about Li Bin.
Story #18: Ulroc’s Redemption By Ben Galley Ulroc O’Kaplan is a half-orc disgraced professional fighter. It may not matter whether or not he threw that last fight, no one would believe him now anyway. Janez Morath is a man of means, a businessman, whose most valuable possession was taken from him. Hired by Morath: Ulroc, a blind human sharpshooter, an activist of an elf, and a slick goblin warlock are offered the chance to retrieve what the thief stole. How much will it cost them, and can they afford to sacrifice their integrity along the way? 24 pages (★★★★★ Five stars: This story was fast-paced and drew me into a world with engaging magepunk vibes. I really enjoyed the addition of a heist story to the collection, and I felt this example was done well. The world that Ben Galley built is very intriguing to me, and I would love to explore it more. Full of rich backstory, Ulroc’s character came to life on the page to me, and I would also be partial to reading more about him before and after this story takes place.)
Story #19: Ratman By Laura M. Hughes An inquisitor for the Host, Ori is charged with reanimating the corpses of the opposing Legion’s champions so that they might be interrogated. Perhaps one of the better necromancers present in Direcliff Keep, Ori still somehow keeps failing to bring back to life the spirits of the Host’s departed enemies. When the mangled body of the famous Copper Rose ends up on Ori’s slab, things take a turn for the worse, and Ori must hide his true intentions. 63 pages (★★★★★ Five stars: Easily the longest story in this collection, you might be worried that Ratman will be poorly-paced or overload you with backstory; I believe this was decidedly not the case. Rather, Ratman is full of action, build-up, lively characters, and a strongly-built setting. Ori is a character that I was meant to and felt I could easily sympathize with, despite his penchant for necromancy, and his motivations and true actions, as we discover them to be, honestly surprised me. Not everything was as it seems in this story, and it was pulled off very well.)
“Knowing you were disposable could hardly be conducive to a winning disposition,” page 485, Kindle eBook version.
“Usefulness gets you killed around here–as you well know,” page 496, Kindle eBook version
This is quite an interesting anthology that presents us with a lot of different heroes. It's not just that we have men, women, humankind, demons, other species altogether, young people and older people, but it is that there are so many different ways to be heroes, and here we could see quite some of them. And I appreciated a lot this thing. As for the stories themselves, well, some of them I loved, some of them I enjoyed and some of them weren't for me. But this is just the way with this kind of books. The stories I loved were: The Asmoore Affair by M. J. Sullivan, but no surprises here. I love this author and I was so glad to be back with his characters. And maybe this short story would be the push I was needing to go on with this series! Ulroc's Redemption by Ben Galley. I haven't read anything from this author, but I have to do it soon, because it was just amazing! I loved the worldbuilding, the story was catching and the characters have so much potential!!! Ratman by Laura M. Huges. Amazing worldbulding, super interesting, really. And characters that have something more about them. I need to find more written by her!
Some really entertaining stories here by some excellent authors. Short stories and novellas are really difficult for me to get into and I’m sure they are just as hard to write. When they are done well they can really be impactful but usually leave you wanting a little more.
My favorites in this anthology included Ratman by Laura M. Hughes, (fantastic dark fantasy with humor) indomitable by Andy Peloquin, All Ends by Quenby Olson, Ulroc’s Redemption by Ben Galley. The collection also includes works by the great Dyrk Ashton, Michael Sullivan( A strange Ryria entry) and Phil Tucker.
I admit I only read 8 of the stories here. Actually i was about to give up after the sixth (2 were nice,2 OK and 2 half-baked ) but reading Lukasz review here i decided to try also the two stories he recommended . All Ends & Ratman. All Ends was indeed quite good - dark & strange , delivered with strong prose. Regarding Ratman, well, i won't get into details about this fucked up tale, i just say that Hughes just got a new fan :) Will definitely check her other works.
I’m usually not a fan of short stories, for me, many times they are excellent story ideas which could be expanded upon, to full length books, so much potential lost. However, with so many excellent authors collected in one place, I took a chance. The stories differed from around 30 minutes to a maximum of 90 minutes. Several were quite good with proper, if not brief, endings. The rest were true snap-shots into story ideas, not bad in anyway, but shorter than I would have liked. Overall, well worth the price and time. Enjoy.
An introduction to a dozen, or so, authors some of whose writing you may like.
The best thing about an anthology is that the short stories give readers introductions to the writings of a number of authors. Each story is essentially an audition; from which the reader can pick a roster of new authors whose work they enjoy reading. I think it likely that any reader who enjoys the fantasy genre Wil find at least one author who they may want to read more of.
I haven't read short stories in such a long time. And now that I have again, I don't know why. This book has a nice selection of hero-themed stories by good authors, most of which I know from long-form novels. The nicest surprise, as I didn't check the list of authors beforehand, was a story from Mike Shel. Happening upon the Syraeic League was a lovely surprise. But of course there were more good stories here. In fact, the one thing I hated was the fact that many stories were teasing more without the authors delivering on that. That was a bit frustrating, although I think you can also read it as praise of the stories themselves.
Took me longer to get through than I thought. Some of the stories are really really A+ while quite few of them in the middle there were pretty disappointing. Overall I like the theme and the way the stories flowed quite a lot so I would definitely recommend read this as a start and stop book. Read a couple of stories, pick up something else in the middle and come back to it.
1. Half-Breed by Joe Jackson 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Elias is a half demon assassin that gets send on a mission with human but something isn't right. I like the story and liked the character Elias.
2. The Drawven Dragon by Jeramy Goble🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Blacksmith daughter makes a mechanical dragon to save her village. Also liked this one.
3. Fresh Of The Boat by K.S.Villoso 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Jorre cames home to his wife Neri but something isn't right. I liked the different feel of this one.
4. The Death of Osiris by Dyrk Ashton 🌟🌟🌟🌟 I liked the Egyptian mythology in this story and the characters.
5. Small Teachers by Jeffrey Hall 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 This one was the best story I've read so far. I love Liddle and the creatures and especially the monster great description of him.
6. Is Dumb by M.D Presley 🌟🌟🌟 Wasn't the best one I've read but wasn't bad.
7. Final Word by Mike Shell 🌟🌟🌟🌟 I love the story about Lumari & Elenore alchemy specialists and the danger they were in.
8. What needs to be done by David Benem 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Another great story! A group of Hunters try to kill the demons in a small town but it isn't easy as they think.
9. Hadgrave by Phil Tucker 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Bernard sets out on a whim to save his village from a army about to invade and destroy everything. A very emotional story I loved it.
10. Holding Out by Derek Siddoway 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Another great one! A Gryphon rider saves a family from bandits. I liked it was a very mythological creature in the story.
11. The Custodian by Matt Moss 🌟🌟🌟 Thomas wants more for his life but will his dreams come true?
12. The Altar by Daniel Potter🌟🌟🌟🌟 I loved the humor in this story. After a storm a medic helps a woman who's wounded that's actually a Goddess.
13. All Ends by Quenby Olsen 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Merit is running away from her past and hides in a brothel but when one of the girls is killed she can't hide anymore. I liked Merit's mysterious power.
14. The Savior of Gardens Gate by Will Wight 🌟🌟🌟🌟 A former Hero must save is old village when he's sect and people are wiped out. I liked the magic system in this one.
15. Indomitable by Andy Peloquin 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Excellent writing in this wonderful short story. Enwan a lowly miner decides to save his people. My first time reading Andy's work and it's great.
16. The Ashmoore Affair by Michael J Sullivan.🌟🌟🌟🌟 Now I know why fans love Royce & Hadrian so much! They're like a old married couple with witty banter and have humoristic way about them and the way they look at at things. I would've liked to see salt shaker be of good use.
17. False Heirs by J.C.Kang 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Two assassins Jie & Tien saves the boy they are send to kill. Great story need to read the rest of the books.
18. Ulroc's Redemption by Ben Galley 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Loved the humor in this unlikely story not your average team to work but enjoyable to read.
19. Ratman by Laura M.Hughes.🌟🌟🌟🌟 A very unique story about a Ratman named Ori who is a Necromancer.
Heroes Wanted by various authors is a fantasy anthology.
The Cover: The cover image depicts some fantasy characters/creatures from the stories within and definitely fits with the genre. The artwork is good and the title font is in a good choice in a nice contrasting colour, making it clean and clear. The only thing I feel letting it down is that it is a very dark picture that tends to make the image a murky smudge on the thumbnail images you see online. Overall, I like it and fits the genre.
The Good Stuff: This is definitely a fantasy anthology, and you get exactly what you’re expecting in that regard. It was free on Amazon when I picked this title up and here are a few good stories between the covers, so great value in that respect. Anthologies are a great way to sample the works of a number of authors to see if you like their writing, and it can be worth it when you find one you like.
The Bad Stuff: As with most anthologies, you get ‘a mixed bag’ of stories from a variety of authors. Some are good stories and some you will likely skim through or skip. Sometimes this feels a little disappointing, but then I try to remind myself that it isn’t really an issue, especially when the book is free. Truly, if I can find one author I like from the various writers, it is far better than trying a novel by an author I haven’t read, only to find I don’t enjoy their work.
Overall, I enjoyed some of the stories, but not as many as those I skimmed or skipped. I didn’t find another favourite author is this book, but there are a couple I would give another go on one of their longer pieces of work. This one gets a sword slashing, magic flashing 3 out of 5 golden bookmarks from me.
This anthology is comprised of nineteen short stories by nineteen different authors. The only author I previously experienced was Michael J. Sullivan. Therefore, it was a great opportunity to both spend more time with Riyria and discover new writers.
Of course, as with most anthologies, I enjoyed some entries more than others. Two of my favorites were Indomitable by Andy Peloquin and Urloc’s Redemption by Ben Galley.
At least at the time of this writing, the ebook version of this anthology is free on Amazon.
A quite solid anthology, only one story I really didn't care for and that might be more personal taste. Fortunately it was one of the shorter ones. A nice mix of familiar and unfamiliar authors, including a few I may well end up looking up.
The idea of an anthology exploring what is a hero and who gets to be a hero is neat, of course, what that means in a modern anthology is that pretty much ALL the heroes are outcasts/unlikely heroes because that's just what you do now. Admittedly, some are more unlikely than others and there's still a bit of thought provoking about heroism.