Ten of the top writers of fantasy present their views of the ways and byways of fairyland:
ISAAC ASIMOV -- A most unusual knight meets an even more unusual dragon.
TERRY BROOKS -- A boy and an elf discover courage conquers more than monsters.
C.J. CHERRYH -- Three wishes -- and the strangest love story ever told.
LESTER DEL REY -- The little princess didn't really believe in a fairy godmother.
SUSAN DEXTER -- The hermit boy didn't know that his pet fawn was a unicorn.
WAYLAND DREW -- Each traveler claimed precedence -- until a stranger joined them.
BARBARA HAMBLY -- Three strange children from a dragon's lair were loved, until . . .
KATHERINE KURTZ -- A fairy learns of faith and love from a holy man.
ANNE McCAFFREY -- Humans and the descendants of Pegasus seek to escape their prison.
LAWRENCE WATT-EVANS -- Killing a dragon is easy -- once one knows how.
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The brief introduction to this anthology of stories styled as ``modern fairy tales'' reveals its chief weakness--the editors don't convey a good understanding of the fairy tales, and few of their authors have captured the flavor, style, or tone of their putative paradigms. The old tales gathered by the Grimms rarely featured dragons (as in Barbara Hambly's ``Changeling''), nor do the fairies of the ancient legends ever appear as simple bell- tinklers (as in Katherine Kurtz's ``A Tinkling of Fairybells''). The most successful stories here are more similar to the lays and romances of the Middle Ages than to ``Hansel and Gretel'' or ``Rumpelstiltskin''--C.J. Cherryh's ``Gwydion and the Dragon'' and Lawrence Watt-Evan's ``Portrait of a Hero,'' for example, recall Breton ballads, not Hans Christian Andersen. Only the story-within- the-story in Wayland Drew's ``The Old Soul'' manages to re-create the effects of the old fairy tales. The less successful stories here are little more than fluff. Though they don't live up to their billing, the best of these tales are good examples of a very rare breed in today's high fantasy genre--the short story. Almost all such work these days appears in three-or-more book series. Stories such as Cherryh's, Hambly's, and Anne McCaffery's (``The Quest of a Sensible Man'') prove that entertaining high fantasy can be delivered at shorter lengths. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
This collection of 10 well written stories nicely illustrates the concept that fairy tale themes are universal, and that modern fantasy writers can give them a sophisticated, psychological and realistic approach while still providing a sense of wonder for all ages. In Barbara Hambly's Changeling, a hard-working Marchlord slays the dragon devastating his countryside and brings home to his wife and children what he finds in its lair: a mute child with two unusual companions. Anne McCaffrey's "The Quest of a Sensible Man" features a prince who seeks a suitable mate for his flying horse. The eponymous "Thistledown" in Susan Dexter's tale is a unicorn colt saved from from predatory hounds by a mute boy suspected of witchcraft. The spoiled princess in "The Fairy Godmother," by Lester del Rey, learns the rudiments of wise rule when she is taken in by an old couple after an attempted abduction. In Wayland Drew's "The Old Soul," an old woman's tale of the fall of a powerful city jolts three travelers out of their self-important lives . Illustrations not seen by PW .
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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