Dangerous Women by George RR Martin

Edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, ‘Dangerous Women’ was probably the biggest anthology release of the past few years that I’m aware of. Filled with the fantasy genres biggest names (and, I believe, big names from other genres), this anthology manages to compile together some of the best short stories around.

On the whole, this book is brilliant, and I could say a lot about each of the short stories therein. However, on the advice of my editor, I’ll focus on just a handful:

  • The Hands That Are Not There by Melinda Snodgrass
    The first story in the anthology that left me wanting to read more from the author.
  • Bombshells by Jim Butcher
    I’ve never found myself with the opportunity to read Jim Butcher’s books, much to my pity, because ‘Bombshells’ was really enjoyable. Exactly what I thought this anthology was going to be about – strong women in fantasy situations. Needless to say, I went and read the first two Dresden books.
  • Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughn
    The first non-fantasy genre story that I just fell in love with, thanks to the fact it is set in World War II Russia. Brilliant strong female flying fighter planes against the Nazis – brilliant!
  • Second Arabesque, Very Slowly by Nancy Kress
    If you know anything about ballet, then this title will give you an immediate inside track to understanding this story. But even with my cursory knowledge and love of the art form, this dystopian future story with its beautifully naïve and innocent characters caught in a horribly brutal world knocked my socks off.

There’s no way we can get through a review of ‘Dangerous Women’ without mentioning what could be argued is the real reason this book exists – the publication of The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens by George R.R. Martin. Set well before the events of his popular ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series, the short story is much more of a novella than any of the short stories that came before.

There are a number of summaries out there for the content of this story, but the basics is that we get to go back in time to see some good old fashioned Targaryen vs. Everyone Else-action.

Plus dragons!

It’s told in the style of a history text, with very little dialogue and a lot of ‘telling’ – a no-no in normal schools of narrative, but strangely well done here. It’s not brilliant, and I was left wanting the tale told be rewritten in a more traditional narrative style rather than this seemingly-hurried attempt to get some more information out about the world of Westeros.

All in all, ‘Dangerous Women’ is definitely worth your money and time, regardless of whether you are an existing ‘Game of Thrones’ fan or not.

9/10 Dangerous Women is definitely worth your money and time.

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