BOOK REVIEW: DANGEROUS WOMEN PART ONE / EDITORS: GEORGE R.R. MARTIN, GARDNER DOZOIS / PUBLISHED: TOR BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 30TH
Dangerous Women Part One is the initial instalment of the paperback version of a hardback book called Dangerous Women, which came out last year. Parts two and three are on the way, all in that handy little format that slips easily into a jacket pocket and can be read on the train.
The main attraction here is the George R.R. Martin novella ‘The Princess and the Queen’. Set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, (the same place as A Game of Thrones), this is a lengthy account of war between warring Targaryen families. In short, this means solid dragon-on-dragon action. Set in the setting’s distant past, Martin’s narrative style is different to the mosaic format most of his fans are used to; it’s meant to be a historical account presented in a way that is entertaining. It moves along at a reasonably entertaining pace and you can almost imagine an excited academic expounding on all the gory details of the war.
The pace continues with Carrie Vaughn’s short tale, Raisa Stepanova. Set in Russia during World War II, it’s the tale of a young woman who has worked hard to become a fighter pilot. Tightly written and exciting, its tone fits the dragon-fire-led excitement of the previous story perfectly well. Next up is Nancy Kress’ Second Arabesque, Very Slowly. This post-apocalyptic drama is slow and, though extremely earnest, feels mechanical and soulless. Kress reduces her supporting cast to rabid and idiotic drones in order to make us care about the main characters, and it simply makes for a depressing tale that goes nowhere. Lawrence Block’s crime drama, I Know How to Pick ’Em is similarly lacklustre, feeling uneven and plodding in places. However, Megan Abbot’s crime drama, My Heart Is Either Broken, makes up for this disappointment by being both dark and engaging. Joe R. Lansdale is up next with a tale of two wrestlers which is, alas, instantly forgettable. The collection is finished off with a Brandon Sanderson tale of murder in the dark, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell. It’s a fine story of motherhood, lost innocence, deceit, and hideous spectres that can wither you into dust.
Over all, Dangerous Women Part One is worth it for both Martin and Sanderson’s contributions. About half of the other stories stand their ground quite well, and it does feel like they’ve shuffled some of the less interesting stories into this collection, knowing that Martin’s name will sell the book regardless. If you’re a Song of Ice and Fire fan and you don’t already have this story, then now’s your chance.
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