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Reviews of 'The Best of Tales, Volume Two'

The Best of Tales, Volume Two

by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Editors
Tales, Volume 8

Reviews of 'The Best of Tales, Volume Two'

Here are the visitor reviews we have of The Best of Tales, Volume Two. For more information about this title, please visit the item detail page.

Reviewer: Cassandra Jacobs

Rating: Stars

The Voyage of the Sunchaser. This is an interesting story, where a ship witnesses the firey mountain crashing into Istar, although it's from far away. They figure out that Istar no longer exists, as their star sighting puts them 100 miles inland. They eventually arrive in Istar, and find a pillar of fire rising from the ocean into the sky, the gravestone of Istar. I thought the imagery was very powerful. The priest of Paladine traveling with the ship drove me up a wall, with his piousness and worship of the Kingpriest. A very well written piece, demonstrating the fanatacism of the clerics towards the destruction of Istar.

In The Three Lives of Horgan Oxthrall, we have Foryth Teel, a historian working for Astinus. Foryth has been a regular in several of Douglas Niles' stories. In this story, he is investigating the life and death of a dwarven hero. An interesting twist in the story is the dwarf allying with an ogre, facing down Istarian mercenaries. The dwarf was able to see how both he and the ogre were being persecuted for their race, and he defended this ogre. The debt is repaid when a band of ogres comes to aid the dwarves against the Istaraian army. I really enjoy stories that bypass the racial concepts and turn them around. They have the potential to be very emotionally charged.

Nancy Berberick's story Filling the Empty Places, tells of a mercenary, Hunter-Doune, who is bringing in the evil and forbidden races to Istar for bounty. A hard, cold man, he learns that maybe he does have the potential to care for someone when he's recruited by a female mercenary to hunt down a wanted criminal. He partners with her, a minotaur and a mute kender. Eventually finding out that the criminal they're searching for is actually the woman he's traveling with (and who he's fallen for) as well as discovering a long lost friend, Hunter-Doune becomes the protector for the hunted of Istar. A very touching story, showing how it is possible for someone to change and find their soft spot again. Nancy doesn't fail to touch that emotional part. And the kender Peverell was also very well done. Mute, due to a mercenary cutting out his tongue, he still comes across as very kenderish and interesting, with the ability to speak in sign language with his hands.

The story The Goblin's Wish by Roger Moore was amazing. It's hard to say anything bad about it. A very young kender winds up befriending a goblin, a minotaur and a young elven man. Each of these people has one thing in common: they're being hunted by the troops of Istar as evil races. The kender is the key player pulling them together. His innocence towards the obvious evil characters (the goblin and minotaur) is refreshing and well done, a very stark contrast when compared to other "naive" kender that have been written in other books (Tales of Uncle Trapspringer comes to mind, since those "innocent" kender were more stupid than naive). The four eventually hunt down a group of Istar mercenaries in order to retrieve the sword stolen from the elf, since its magic would probably be put to poor use in the hands of Istar. Using magic, gnomish gunpowder, and their wits, they successfully raid the camp and kill or drive off the mercenaries. Unfortunately, the goblin desires the sword for his own personal glory, as does the minotaur and the plans fall apart at the end as the two evil monsters fight it out and take the elf down with them. In the end, the kender is left burying his friends, who he believes all died at the hands of the mercenaries. I was literally in tears. The goblin seemed to have a bit of a soft spot for the kender, especially when he heard that he had been orphaned when his parents were killed by Istarian troops. His emotions almost seem to redeem him in the end. A very very touching and emotionally charged story, also with a well done kender. This was probably one of my favourite of the bunch, tieing with Ogre Unaware.

Dan Parkinson tends to do very good dwarves... even if they're gully dwarves. His two stories, Off Day and Ogre Unaware, were both very humorous stories, following a clan of gullies that start off living under the temple of Istar. There, they accidently tap into one of the holy vats of wine, creating what they think is a wine mine. The entire temple turns into an uproar as they think evil is behind the desecration of the wine vats. This eventually leads to the clerics pushing for using mind reading in order to find evil lurking in the minds of men. It's surprising that the gully dwarves were the eventual reason for this step taken by Istar. In the second story, the gullies have left Istar (seemingly at the suggestion of the "Dark One" that serves the kingpriest, probably Raistlin, who has a soft spot for their race) and are attempting to find a new home when the Cataclysm hits. Several of them are taken prisoner by humans. The ones left searching for them include the Highbulp's wife, who winds up with an ogre believing she's his mama (a good bump on the noggin resulted in the ogre losing his memory). With the aid of the ogre, the gullies manage to free the rest of their people from the slavers. An accidental bump on the head results in the ogre getting his memory back and he turns on the gullies, but when faced with the courage of the Highbulp defending his wife, he has a soft moment and leaves them. A sad parting, as the female gully had formed an interesting bond with the ogre. Like Doug Niles' story about the dwarf and ogre, this story also goes past the racial stereotypes. The gully dwarves were also very well done.

The gnome story Clockwork Hero has several gnomes trying to hide the identity of a female dragon highlord from a merchant who has fallen in love with her. She desires his death, while he desires her love. The gnomes manage to turn the merchant into a hero, who fights and protects their village, eventually against the highlord when she successfully comes to and rages against them. A gnomish plot (which works!) succeeds in saving the merchant from learning the truth of his love's evil nature. Another humorous story with a different ending.

Knaak's story Colors of Belief tells the story of a Solamnic Knight, one of Knaak's fortes, along with minotaurs. The knight travels to Istar and discovers it's not as holy as people believe. It seems the worship of the Kingpriest is placed higher up than worship of Paladine. When the knight is found guilty of a crime against the Istarian guard, he's thrown into the arena to face combat. There, he finds an unlikely ally in one of the overseers, a dark elf, who displays healing powers. Believing the elf is a cleric of Mishakal, the knight agrees to fight and face the elf in combat in order to escape Istar. Surprisingly, the knight is killed in combat! But he finds himself brought back to life by the elf, and discovers that he serves Sargonnas, not Mishakal. The knight realizes that the world is filled with more shades of gray than black and white and finds the need to reassess his view of the people around him. An interesting view of the evil forces that strive for balance against the forces of Istar.

Review made July 3rd, 2002.

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