Am I going to pretend I didn’t buy this because of the George R R Martin short story regarding the Dance of the Dragons? Well, no. That’s 100% why I was interested, because I need something fill the Game of Thrones void in my life, and so far none of his other work has really resonated.
And for that 35,000 words? Brilliant. The history, the return to the series in an albeit abstract way was well worth it. Then the other stories came along, and well…
Carrie Vaughn’s Raisa Stepanova, about female Russian fighter pilots in the war, was definitely the next highlight. You felt for the characters, as well as thinking they were pretty badass. And it’s that being hooked into a story that generally lacked across the rest of the board. Lawrence Block’s I Know How To Pick ‘Em was different and twisted, but it’s more a curiosity than a connection that keeps you there.
As with most anthologies (even in this smaller first installment) there’s filler, and quite a few left something to be desired. It was okay, and if not bought for Martin’s Targaryen resurgence, then there’s still definitely at least one truly brilliant story in there.