Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful anthology full of strong, compelling stories that span the range of the genre, from urban fantasy to traditional, to the science fiction of distant worlds, and even a superhero tale. Even the relatively weakest stories have something to offer - and I say relatively because there were few disappointments. Each story finds a different way to tug at your heart strings, which is exactly what this anthology should do.
Why only four stars? Two reasons:
1. This is partly personal, but I find the inclusion of stories that directly connect to an authors' series to be frustrating. If you are following the series, but haven't reached the particular volume on which the story depends, you either have to risk being spoiled or skip it. If you aren't following the series, there can be elements in the tale that fly over your head. The former applies to the Dresden Files / Jim Butcher story "Love Hurts." When it comes to Diana Gabaldon's "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" and Jacqueline Carey's "You, and You Alone," these were both beautiful stories, but they felt as if they were designed to cater primarily to fans. Carey's in particular pulled me along, eagerly awaiting what ended up to be a "So what?" conclusion. Gabaldon's turns on deus ex machina.
I also feel as if (though I'm not sure) Marjorie M. Liu's "After The Blood" falls into this category. I like stories where things are subtle or implied, but this story refuses to state anything directly. One simply gets exhausted keeping track of suppositions and waiting for confirmation of something.
2. The weaker stories all seem to have a similar flaw: a plot point or resolution isn't adequately foreshadowed / given enough attention earlier in the narrative for the resolution to be satisfying.
Those complaints aside, I generally loved this anthology. As mentioned above, it provides a crazy amount of genre variety - there's probably something for everyone. Also, generally speaking, these are longer, meaty stories without dragging, which is always a treat. Highly recommended.
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