This collection of 21 original short stories focuses on the scoundrels, thieves and con-men of the fantasy world. The good thing about anthologies is that the pace of the short stories has to be quite snappy in order to get to the action and then on to conclusion of the story; this is certainly the case with Rogues. That being said, this selection of stories does have some high points and some lower points. As you would expect with a collection of authors and stories, some of those included did not match the quality of some of the others and not every story will be to everyone’s tastes.
Obvious highlights in the collection come from fantasy stalwarts Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis and Joe Abercrombie. Gaiman certainly provided the best short story within the book with ‘How the Marquis got his coat back’. In this story he revisits his popular character of the Marquis de Carabas from the Neverwhere novel and further explores the world of London Below, including locking horns with the Elephant from Elephant and Castle and the Shepherds of Shepherds Bush.
Edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois.
The collection also introduces some not so well known writers with good solid short stories. I particularly enjoyed The Inn of the Seven Blessings by Matthew Hughes. This short story was witty, original and punchy.
The attraction of the book to many will be the fact that it has a new short story by George R. R. Martin from his Game of Thrones universe. His epic style does not sit too well with the short story format, although the ‘The Rogue Prince, or, a King’s Brother’ is attractive in so far as it returns to Martin’s familiar world. As a short story, the formula of family trees and hierarchies of treachery does not really work and leaves the reader confused as to the conclusion of the story and, without the benefit of a more epic novel to set the story, it loses some of its context.
This is a great themed collection of short stories which are (in the main) of good quality. Some of the stories may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Review by Joe Warren
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