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(Audio)Book Review: Rogues

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Rogues edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

Rogues Cover

If you’re a fan of fiction that is more than just black and white, this latest story collection from #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois is filled with subtle shades of gray. Twenty-one all-original stories, by an all-star list of contributors, will delight and astonish you in equal measure with their cunning twists and dazzling reversals. And George R. R. Martin himself offers a brand-new A Game of Thrones tale chronicling one of the biggest rogues in the entire history of Ice and Fire.

Follow along with the likes of Gillian Flynn, Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Cherie Priest, Garth Nix, and Connie Willis, as well as other masters of literary sleight-of-hand, in this rogues gallery of stories that will plunder your heart—and yet leave you all the richer for it.

I picked up Rogues the day it came out because there’s a whole Patrick Rothfuss novella in it. When you’re a fan of someone with low output, you’ll buy a thousand pages for maybe sixty. The struggle is real.

So I read that and I liked it. If you’re a fan, too, then it’s totally worth it. Go buy it.

Then it sat in my Kindle for… ever. I wasn’t going to read it. I tried. I got through the first couple stories by Joe Abercrombie and Gillian Flynn. They’re both exemplary. “Times are Tough All Over” is tightly plotted driving action with deft handling of multiple characters rivaling Martin himself.  In a short story. Joe Abercrombie wrote one of my favorite fantasy novels, Before They are Hanged, and if you like this one you should check out his longer work.  My experience with Flynn is more limited, but if you read Gone Girl and thought maybe you wanted more stories like that, “What Do You Do?” certainly fits the bill.

After that I went for the audiobook. Three different times. It’s long. And while the variety of narrators both increases the appeal and makes each entry distinct, it’s also kind of an appreciation grab bag.

For example, I’ve been a fan of Walter John Williams since the eighties. Especially his short work. And I’m usually a long narrative dense world deep engagement reader. “Diamonds from Tequilla” had his je ne sais quoi, though. But I didn’t care for David Greenlee’s narration. On the other hand, Molly C Quinn’s reading of “Now Showing” by Connie Willis encouraged me to seek out the author’s other work. The same goes for “The Roaring Twenties” by Carrie Vaughn, read by Janis Ian.

The stand out winner, if one can win an anthology, was “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” by Scott Lynch. Like the Abercrombie story, it’s read by Gwendoline Christie. I’d read Lynch before, but now I’m a fan.

Runners up include “Ill Seen in Tyre” by Steven Saylor, a fiction of fictions read by Gethin Anthony and “Heavy Metal” by Cherie Priest, which was odd and creepy and scary. Scott Brick did an excellent job narrating. So well, in fact, that I sought out some of his other work.

Martin and Dozois picked and arranged a good anthology, here. If you like any of the authors, pick this one up. You’re sure to find and enjoy something unexpected. If you can, read it. If you can’t, listen. Your preferences will be different from mine.

Recommended for fans of Castle, Game of Thrones, and buffets.

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