Amazons 2 - Jessica Amanda Salmonson "For a Daughter," F.M. Busby: A reasonably good tale about an Amazon-like woman, Atla, who has to extricate herself from the chains (figurative) of the man whom she's chosen to bear her child but who has plans of his own for her.

Busby is probably best know for The Demu Trilogy, which I read 30 years ago. I remember liking it, though remembering little enough of the story. This story was good enough that – given the opportunity – I may reread the trilogy and other stuff by this author.

I wish I could say the same about the second story, “The Battle Crow’s Daughter,” by Gillian Fitzgerald. This story lay there like a just-captured fish gasping its life out at the bottom of the fishing boat. There’s no dramatic tension like that found in the first story; I never once thought Maeve was in any serious danger from her oafish husband Harald. And the brothers – Harald and Ingvar – are cardboard caricatures. One too foolish, the other too good to be true. What I found to be especially annoying was that the author felt it necessary to explain what a Valkyrie is, and did it by having Ingvar – a Norseman – explain it to his brother – another Norseman!

“Southern Lights,” Tanith Lee: This story isn’t particularly memorable but Lee is a past master (mistress?) of setting mood and telling a good tale, and she doesn’t disappoint in this one. Jaisel is an interesting hero, what little we get to learn of her, and the nameless town she’s forced to spend the night in is eerie, and the necromancer is subtly threatening.

Lee may be an acquired taste but once acquired she can do little wrong.

“Zroya’s Trizub,” Gordon Derevanchuk: Slavic-flavored tale about a woman whose child is torn from her body and sacrificed by goblins (lisovyki). She resorts to seeking a Baba Yaga’s aid in revenge and winds up paying a steep price. Not badly written; but not goodly remembered.

“The Robber Girl,” Phyllis Ann Karr: Another decent, if not particularly memorable, tale about a girl who robs.

“Lady of the Forest End,” Gael Baudino: Upon glancing over the story while writing this review, I like it better than my initial impression when I finished. It’s about the robustly Amazonian Avdoyta. She escapes rape but one of the men she kills has a death-bed conversion and makes her promise to return a locket from his lover, a powerful sorceress. The ending is moderately subversive enough to make this a stand out among the collection.

“The Ivory Comb,” Eleanor Arnason: This is a straight-up myth about Ropemaker’s quest to retrieve the ivory comb of the Mother, stolen by the Trickster. In its absence, there are no more live births and the world is threatened with destruction.

“The Borders of Sabazel,” Lillian Stewart Carl: Carl writes a tale about the Amazonian queen Danica’s effort to save her kingdom from the predations of Bellasteros. It was unsatisfying because of the resolution but it wasn’t awful.

“Who Courts a Reluctant Maiden,” Ardath Mayhar: Okay effort but like “The Battle Crow’s Daughter,” it lacked any tension.

“The Soul Slayer,” Lee Killough: This story is among the top three of the tales collected here. It’s set in a post-Apocalypse world that has voluntarily given up metal because it truly does steal one’s soul. Kimara’s world is turned upside down when Maldorc’s men destroy her village and kidnap the men, among whom is her husband, to swell the ranks of his soulless armies. Interesting world, interesting heroine, satisfying ending.

“Nightwork,” Jo Clayton: Once more, a decent effort but it’s spoiled by the setting. The author sets it on an alien world and throws out new words whose only purpose seems to be to give it an alien “flavor” – distracting.

“In the Lost Lands,” George R.R. Martin: Yes, children, there was a time when GRRM wrote short stories (e.g., “Tuf Voyaging,” “Sandkings” or “Nightflyers,” et al.). Another cautionary tale about the price we pay for fulfilling wishes.

Overall, nothing here of astonishing originality or memorability but nothing of unreadable dreck either. A lukewarm three stars.