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Unfettered II: New Tales By Masters of Fantasy

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Life can kick us when we are down. In Shawn Speakman’s case, he is fighting back. Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Speakman beat the disease as well as the massive medical debt he amassed from its treatment. He did this by publishing Unfettered, an anthology featuring short stories donated by some of the best science fiction and fantasy Life can kick us when we are down. In Shawn Speakman’s case, he is fighting back. Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Speakman beat the disease as well as the massive medical debt he amassed from its treatment. He did this by publishing Unfettered, an anthology featuring short stories donated by some of the best science fiction and fantasy writers working today. The fight will not stop there. In an effort to pay forward the aid he received—and to memorialize his mother who passed away from stomach cancer in early 2016—Speakman has again collaborated with celebrated genre authors to publish Unfettered II. All proceeds from the anthology will either help eliminate medical debt for other authors or be donated to cancer research hubs around the world. Twenty-one original new tales comprise this amazing collection and, as the title suggests, the writers were again free to contribute whatever they wished. Here is the line-up for Unfettered II: Foreword by Terry Brooks "Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village" by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Song of Shattered Sands) “Day One” by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) “Figures” by Rachel Caine “The Hedgewitch” by Sarah Beth Durst (The Queens of Renthia) “The King’s Despatcher” by David Farland (Runelords) “The Gunnie” by Charlaine Harris “Bulletproof” by Mark Lawrence (Gunlaw) “The Raven” by Erin Lindsey (Bloodbound) “And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls” by Seanan McGuire “The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ” by Aidan Moher “Castle Coeurlieu” by Naomi Novik “A Slow Kill” by Peter Orullian (Vault of Heaven) “Aokigahara” by J.A. Pitts “A Duel of Evils” by Anthony Ryan (Raven’s Shadow) “The Thrill” by Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive) “Victim with a Capital V” by Scott Sigler “The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch” by Shawn Speakman (Annwn Cycle) “Little Wren and the Big Forest” by Michael J. Sullivan (The Legends of the First Empire) “Magic Beans” by Django Wexler “The Decoy” by Janny Wurts (Wars of Light and Shadow) Todd Lockwood (Cover Artist) Don Maitz (Interior Illustrator) With the help of New York Times bestselling authors as well as talented newcomers, Speakman has taken the platform Unfettered created to not only confront medical debt but to support the battle against one of our gravest illnesses. Unfettered II is a fantastic sequel anthology but it is more than that; it is proof that we are stronger together than we are apart. After all, isn’t that what genre fiction is all about?


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Life can kick us when we are down. In Shawn Speakman’s case, he is fighting back. Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Speakman beat the disease as well as the massive medical debt he amassed from its treatment. He did this by publishing Unfettered, an anthology featuring short stories donated by some of the best science fiction and fantasy Life can kick us when we are down. In Shawn Speakman’s case, he is fighting back. Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Speakman beat the disease as well as the massive medical debt he amassed from its treatment. He did this by publishing Unfettered, an anthology featuring short stories donated by some of the best science fiction and fantasy writers working today. The fight will not stop there. In an effort to pay forward the aid he received—and to memorialize his mother who passed away from stomach cancer in early 2016—Speakman has again collaborated with celebrated genre authors to publish Unfettered II. All proceeds from the anthology will either help eliminate medical debt for other authors or be donated to cancer research hubs around the world. Twenty-one original new tales comprise this amazing collection and, as the title suggests, the writers were again free to contribute whatever they wished. Here is the line-up for Unfettered II: Foreword by Terry Brooks "Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village" by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Song of Shattered Sands) “Day One” by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) “Figures” by Rachel Caine “The Hedgewitch” by Sarah Beth Durst (The Queens of Renthia) “The King’s Despatcher” by David Farland (Runelords) “The Gunnie” by Charlaine Harris “Bulletproof” by Mark Lawrence (Gunlaw) “The Raven” by Erin Lindsey (Bloodbound) “And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls” by Seanan McGuire “The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ” by Aidan Moher “Castle Coeurlieu” by Naomi Novik “A Slow Kill” by Peter Orullian (Vault of Heaven) “Aokigahara” by J.A. Pitts “A Duel of Evils” by Anthony Ryan (Raven’s Shadow) “The Thrill” by Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive) “Victim with a Capital V” by Scott Sigler “The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch” by Shawn Speakman (Annwn Cycle) “Little Wren and the Big Forest” by Michael J. Sullivan (The Legends of the First Empire) “Magic Beans” by Django Wexler “The Decoy” by Janny Wurts (Wars of Light and Shadow) Todd Lockwood (Cover Artist) Don Maitz (Interior Illustrator) With the help of New York Times bestselling authors as well as talented newcomers, Speakman has taken the platform Unfettered created to not only confront medical debt but to support the battle against one of our gravest illnesses. Unfettered II is a fantastic sequel anthology but it is more than that; it is proof that we are stronger together than we are apart. After all, isn’t that what genre fiction is all about?

30 review for Unfettered II: New Tales By Masters of Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    This anthology is a precious gift, for the contributes, the editing, the cover, the interior art, the dedication and the cause. Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik: I liked Novik's novel Uprooted, and here I found again that mix of historical fiction and gothic fairytale I've so appreciated in her standalone. I also love her care for details and the way she writes female protagonists. A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian: this story features a Machiavellian assassination. It’s carefully planned, well-worded This anthology is a precious gift, for the contributes, the editing, the cover, the interior art, the dedication and the cause. Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik: I liked Novik's novel Uprooted, and here I found again that mix of historical fiction and gothic fairytale I've so appreciated in her standalone. I also love her care for details and the way she writes female protagonists. A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian: this story features a Machiavellian assassination. It’s carefully planned, well-worded and chilling to the bone. Exciting! And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls by Seanan McGuire: a short story about inevitable doom, with two PoVs. Odd and nice. Day One by Jim Butcher: the story was okay, but being without a Harry Dresden background I felt like I was missing too many references. Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village by Bradley P. Beaulieu: very, very good. Beaulieu is really skilled at short format, this is the second short story of his I read, and I immersed very easily in the investigation. High time for Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. Aokigahara by John A. Pitts: A sci-fi short story, not my usual read, but fascinating and thought-provoking. The Decoy by Janny Wurts: She is my favourite adult fantasist, and with reason. Here she regales new and returning readers alike with a tale of unique balance, which shows another facet of the rift between the human cultures in Athera but it’s primarily a harrowing and upbeat standalone. I didn't anticipate the final twist and I had goose bumps by the time I reached the last word. The King’s Despatcher by David Farland: very good story, a prequel in the established universe of the author, whose first book of the Runelords series is now in my TBR. Traditional fantasy, straightforward and very catchy. Figures by Rachel Caine: I’m familiar with Caine because I'm reading The Great Library trilogy. She is talented, and her very very short story is original and interesting. The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ by Aidan Moher: Moher is a known ex fantasy blogger now turned writer. A broke mercenary priest is called to save the day. Okay read. Magic Beans by Django Wexler: Wexler is an author I've had my eyes on for a while, and I've already appreciated a short story of his. His main series is epic/military fantasy, so imagine my surprise when I read this hilarious short piece featuring a magic coffee-maker and sex. The Hedgewitch by Sarah Beth Durst: cool setting, I like tree dwellings and spirits with a “dismember first, apologize later” policy. The story is simple and flows nicely. Victim with a Capital V by Scott Sigler: a fantasy story with a weird western vibe set in a San Francisco where metals don't exist anymore. The author managed to convey the right atmosphere even without guns. Raw and hard, I really liked it. A Duel of Evils by Anthony Ryan: I've not had a chance to try Ryan's first trilogy, but this is the second short story of his I read and this time he chose the form of an historical document. My lack of context notwithstanding, it was ultimately satisfying because I liked the style and the military parts. Successful experiment. The Raven by Erin Lindsey: a prequel about the main villain of Lindsey's Bloodbound series (which just moved higher up my TBR). I'm probably biased, because if done well, I love morally questionable protagonists. At first I thought it simplistic, then I became very absorbed in the story, the pace was just right. Very good! Bulletproof by Mark Lawrence: I'm current with everything Lawrence has penned, but I miss a few of his short stories and his Gunlaw novel; I'm happy this piece is in the anthology, so I could read something new. It's a weird western about the nature of strength and making the right stand, I liked the setting. The Gunnie by Charlaine Harris: this is the second fantasy story featuring guns of the anthology, whose plot is probably inspired by the Mexican/US border reality. It's a brutal tale, skilfully written (well, considering the author's fame I expected no less) and emotionally involving. Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael J. Sullivan: another writer I like. This is a dark fairy-tale from his Riyria universe, a "simple and charming fable, which is so popular around campfires and as a bedtime story". I'm always sold to an author who calls sheep "wooly puffballs". The Thrill by Brandon Sanderson: this is my first Sanderson experience. I met the guy in Lucca this year, and he was fun and very audience-minded, able to skim around the language barrier with ease. This tale is an excerpt from his upcoming book (meaning he warned this may not be the final cut) but it's self-contained and it was easy to read even If I missed the context. The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch by Shawn Speakman: Speakman is the editor of this anthology, an author, a cancer survivor, a son: nothing of this factors in my review but anyway, this is a well-written fantasy story, full of hope, framed by a beautiful landscape and shaped around the author's love for his mother and her final battle against cancer. This is the third short story (more Nix please) of his I read, and it's always a pleasure. The first anthology ever where I could not find a single story that I disliked. Only a couple were a simple pass, the rest ranged from nice to amazing. Absolutely recommended! The butterflies carried her will and farewell.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    Little Wren and the Big Forest The forest near Wren's house is something of a mystery. Only her father ever enters, but only just slightly. When Wren's brother enters the forest following a sheep, he doesn't reappear. Wren's father and mother follow until only Wren remained. Now Wren could follow her mother's instructions or she could enter the forest to see if she can find her family. Wren may be little, but she's no coward. Little Wren and the Big Forest is a fairy tale about the dwarf Gronb Little Wren and the Big Forest The forest near Wren's house is something of a mystery. Only her father ever enters, but only just slightly. When Wren's brother enters the forest following a sheep, he doesn't reappear. Wren's father and mother follow until only Wren remained. Now Wren could follow her mother's instructions or she could enter the forest to see if she can find her family. Wren may be little, but she's no coward. Little Wren and the Big Forest is a fairy tale about the dwarf Gronbach. He's a vile clever creature who cares only for himself. Wren is a simply written girl like any protagonist of a fairy tale. The story is simple, but it's point is achieved, do not trust Gronbach.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    ==Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael J. Sullivan== A charming story about courage and love, involving a little girl, Wren, and the mythical villain dwarf from ancient times, Gronbach. Best to be read after Age of Myth to have a better visual of the surrounding world. It is part of the anthology Unfettered II , by editor Shawn Speakman, but also, courtesy of the author, it may be downloaded from Instafreebie: https://www.instafreebie.com/public/L... ==Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael J. Sullivan== A charming story about courage and love, involving a little girl, Wren, and the mythical villain dwarf from ancient times, Gronbach. Best to be read after Age of Myth to have a better visual of the surrounding world. It is part of the anthology Unfettered II , by editor Shawn Speakman, but also, courtesy of the author, it may be downloaded from Instafreebie: https://www.instafreebie.com/public/L...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Speakman

    I am biased. But this anthology is about as wonderful and magical as any I've read. And I've read more than a few. I really enjoy having these Unfettered anthologies being themeless. It allows every contributor to do something that they otherwise wouldn't be able to do and it shows in the quality of the stories. Add that this is my way of memorializing my mother -- who is featured on the cover - and it makes Unfettered II really special. My own short story contribution is about her last days as s I am biased. But this anthology is about as wonderful and magical as any I've read. And I've read more than a few. I really enjoy having these Unfettered anthologies being themeless. It allows every contributor to do something that they otherwise wouldn't be able to do and it shows in the quality of the stories. Add that this is my way of memorializing my mother -- who is featured on the cover - and it makes Unfettered II really special. My own short story contribution is about her last days as she struggled with cancer and its effects, all set within my fantasy world. I think she would have enjoyed meeting my two main characters. I'm just sad she didn't get to read it. All proceeds from this book go to charity -- either helping authors alleviate medical debt or going to fund cancer research. So it has a feel good component too that cannot be ignored. I hope you'll start telling others about it now. It's an anthology for a worthy cause.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I wanted to review this only to say thank you to Shawn for including me in it, and to the other authors for contributing such great stories. For my part, I have a SHATTERED SANDS story in the anthology. The story focuses on Dardzada, an apothecary who, for a time, is the foster father of Çeda (the heroine of TWELVE KINGS IN SHARAKHAI). I wanted to tell his tale because he became really interesting to me as I wrote about him in TWELVE KINGS. He cares for Çeda very much, but goes about it in the wr I wanted to review this only to say thank you to Shawn for including me in it, and to the other authors for contributing such great stories. For my part, I have a SHATTERED SANDS story in the anthology. The story focuses on Dardzada, an apothecary who, for a time, is the foster father of Çeda (the heroine of TWELVE KINGS IN SHARAKHAI). I wanted to tell his tale because he became really interesting to me as I wrote about him in TWELVE KINGS. He cares for Çeda very much, but goes about it in the wrong ways. He’s extremely strict, and when Çeda rebels because of it, becomes even worse. Çeda eventually leaves and runs the streets with her best friend, Emre. But Dardzada continues to play a role in her life, and I wanted to flesh out his tragic story. I’m always trying to do two things with the short stories I write. First, I’m trying to explore a particular character that interests me, finding out more about them along the way. And second, I’m trying to deepen the world. Sharakhai is such a metropolitan place. There are hundreds of influences from thousands of miles away in every direction. So part of the fun for me is to simply show more of this world while doing so through a few unique characters. I hope you enjoy the story, and the rest in this unfettered set of tales.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Phelps

    A good short story by MJS. 3.5 stars You can't help but like little Wren, she is adorable, unfortunate and simple. I love the setting to this story. Something about mysterious, dark forests haunt me, in an enchanted/wondrous sort of way. I can't help but sense that there has to be magic in the strange and mystical spaces between the trees. This story had the feel of a bedtime fairytale. One that mothers and grandmothers would tell hundreds of years ago when tucking the little ones into quilts on b A good short story by MJS. 3.5 stars You can't help but like little Wren, she is adorable, unfortunate and simple. I love the setting to this story. Something about mysterious, dark forests haunt me, in an enchanted/wondrous sort of way. I can't help but sense that there has to be magic in the strange and mystical spaces between the trees. This story had the feel of a bedtime fairytale. One that mothers and grandmothers would tell hundreds of years ago when tucking the little ones into quilts on beds of straw. There were some descriptions, mostly vocabulary and verbs that I thought were too sophisticated to use for Wren's 8 year old viewpoint. That was a little distracting and yanked me from the narrative a few times. Still, the writing is very good and the story itself is marvelous. Especially for those of us who care to know about Elan's fables and lore.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    A varied, well written collection of short stories to dip into between long books. Details of each one noted in other reviews. I enjoyed all stories, but some appealed more than others, depending on my own favourite writers or themes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    As per usual, Shawn Speakman delivers a great anthology. I didn't outright not like any of the stories in this one (but I did find a couple a little boring- as is bound to happen). Here's a little more about which were my favorites: My favorite story of this particular bunch was Magic Beans by Django Wexler. His coffee-shop erotica. I appreciate a story with both a sex closet and a dragon in it. The Thrill by Brandon Sanderson was also super exciting. It not only ramped up my excitement for Oathb As per usual, Shawn Speakman delivers a great anthology. I didn't outright not like any of the stories in this one (but I did find a couple a little boring- as is bound to happen). Here's a little more about which were my favorites: My favorite story of this particular bunch was Magic Beans by Django Wexler. His coffee-shop erotica. I appreciate a story with both a sex closet and a dragon in it. The Thrill by Brandon Sanderson was also super exciting. It not only ramped up my excitement for Oathbringer by a thousand percent, but reiterated what a badass Dalinar is. Excited! Day One by Jim Butcher was amazeballs. Because Waldo Butters is amazeballs and a story about him is just a thing I love. That is all. Bulletproof by Mark Lawrence reminded me how much I fucking loved Gunlaw. I should really read it again. The Gunnie by Charlaine Harris was surprisingly awesome. The Sookie Stackhouse series disappointed me a great many times (especially near the end -.-) so, I had just thought to never bother reading her stuff again. This story has convinced me that it might be okay to bother again after all. Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael Sullivan was also a favorite. I just love the way the man tells a story. Elan's Rumplestiltskin was awesome. The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tou Ma by Aiden Moher was an awesome story. I want to read more stories about Farid! Finally, The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch. This story made me very teary eyed. What a beautiful memorial story. I can't even get my thoughts in order about it. It was just... it was bittersweet. I hope there will be more anthologies from Grim Oak. I hope they don't all have very sad backstories... But, I hope for more.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    I received this book though Goodreads Giveaways for an honest review. I really wanted this book for Mark Lawrence and there are so many authors I was excited to check out so as much as I want to review the stories I,m not going to my rating is good enough. So yeah Cancer sucks ass and my heart goes out to Shawn Speakman and all those fighting the good fight, and to those we've lost and to every one affected by it. Cancer can come after anyone non of us are immune. The cover of this book is beaut I received this book though Goodreads Giveaways for an honest review. I really wanted this book for Mark Lawrence and there are so many authors I was excited to check out so as much as I want to review the stories I,m not going to my rating is good enough. So yeah Cancer sucks ass and my heart goes out to Shawn Speakman and all those fighting the good fight, and to those we've lost and to every one affected by it. Cancer can come after anyone non of us are immune. The cover of this book is beautiful. Speakman your mom looks like an Angle. The Foreword by Terry Brooks is also beautiful it made me cry as well as the Introduction and oh did I cry.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Krista D.

    I picked up this anthology specifically for Janny Wurts and Jim Butcher. Enjoyed both of their stories. Wurts' short story is a great example of what her epic fantasy style is like (plus the story had a great 'history lesson' feel to it, which I really enjoyed). Butcher's is basically required reading for mega Dresden fans.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marin Bratanov

    Very weak. I found the quality of the stories to be much poorer than the first.i tried to read through them to get a sense of the authors and still had a hard time finishing most of them. The best, by a huge margin is by Sanderson. I can't believe how boring the opening piece was. Mostly young adult, like for 12 year olds perhaps. Just...skip it

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stefano G.

    I only read the Brandon Sanderson part so this is a review only on that. The Thrill - Brandon Sanerson -> ★★★★☆ The Dalinar Flashbacks from the new Stormlight Archive book Oathbringer, are real treats. They show some glimpses of the dark man Dalinar was in his youth, as well as a first glimpse to his forgotten wife. The fighting scenes are quite impressive but maybe not as polished as I would have expected (hoping for this to be cleaned up in the review process), also since the scenes are from I only read the Brandon Sanderson part so this is a review only on that. The Thrill - Brandon Sanerson -> ★★★★☆ The Dalinar Flashbacks from the new Stormlight Archive book Oathbringer, are real treats. They show some glimpses of the dark man Dalinar was in his youth, as well as a first glimpse to his forgotten wife. The fighting scenes are quite impressive but maybe not as polished as I would have expected (hoping for this to be cleaned up in the review process), also since the scenes are from three different chapters in the soon to be published book there is a bit of lack of continuity. The courtroom scene is also quite interesting where you see Gavilar/Sadeas and their respective wives interacting with Dalinar, and you start to really fully understand the dynamics between them in the later books. A good read overall, but I think it will be much better to read this in the grand context of Oathbringer!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Unfettered is a special series of Anthologies. They are books that truly do good in the world. The proceeds from each help to alleviate medical debt within the SFF community. The contributors are given free reign to submit as the anthologies are theme-less. With each book released I have encountered authors that I have known and loved for year. Sometimes they contribute tidbits within established worlds, letting you get a glimpse of their worlds and characters that would never fit in full length Unfettered is a special series of Anthologies. They are books that truly do good in the world. The proceeds from each help to alleviate medical debt within the SFF community. The contributors are given free reign to submit as the anthologies are theme-less. With each book released I have encountered authors that I have known and loved for year. Sometimes they contribute tidbits within established worlds, letting you get a glimpse of their worlds and characters that would never fit in full length novels. These are precious, as you may get to spend time with old friends for a short period of time. I really enjoy the chance to learn more about secondary characters that don't get to tell their stories in the sprawling epics but are just as important as the primary heroes. Another wonderful aspect of anthologies and especially Unfettered because of its unique no theme theme is that contributors get to explore and play outside of their worlds as well. They are not bound by anything and therefore can create wonderfully unique experiences. I love experiencing something completely unexpected from a beloved author. Perhaps the unique magic of an anthology though, is the opportunity to meet new authors. It is like walking into a comfortable tavern where many of your friends and acquaintances await you. The great thing though is that they brought friends and its a great environment to meet them. One of the stories that really stuck out for me in Unfettered Two is A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian. I have followed Peters Vault of Heaven universe closely from the beginning and while this story is set in that world, it reads terrifically whether you are familiar with his work or not. It is a neatly unique take on an assassin, ethics, philosophy and justice...or maybe not! You decide. I am a huge fan of Jim Butchers Harry Dresden and Co. So I unabashedly do a happy dance when I come across snippets of that world. In Day One we get to see a very important developmental event for a wonderful supporting character to Harry Dresden. In this story though, the person that has to become a hero is not who you would expect. And that's wonderful. I am not overly familiar with Bradley Beaulieus works(yet) but I have known who he is for a long time. His contribution Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village offers a chance for familiar readers to learn more about an established character. Not knowing the world I was stepping into did not hurt the experience one bit and certainly has move Mr. Beaulieu up my to read list. The pacing of the short story was spot on and I devoured it wanting to know more. David Farland is an author who I admittedly know nothing about. His short story The King's Despatcher makes me want to correct that omission immediately. It is set in an existing universe of his but centuries before some of his prominent work. It is the beginning of a prequel series and as an outside reader has me hooked already. He was able to convey the beginning of some great characterization in a short period of time that leaves me really wanting to follow up on these people and what is going to happen to them. The story by Rachel Cane is Figures and I love it. I haven't read any books by Rachel and I can't remember if i have read other short stories by her or not but this one makes me want to. It is a wonderful discussion on some of the aspects of our current culture and is not a drastic imagining of where we could go. It's a great story. I am an avid follower of Django Wexlers Shadow Campaigns. This story has nothing to do with those. And. I. Love. It. Perhaps because I have in the past spent time behind a coffee bar this speaks to me a bit extra, I don't know. What I do know is Magic Beans is amazing. Coffee. Sex. Dragons. I think this entry has to end up on my list of all time favourite short stories. I don't have an actual list but I may have to create one so I can put Magic Beans on it. It is a hilariously sexy and fun romp that takes you places you did not expect. I need to show this story to a number of people and make them read it. Scott Sigler is another author whom I have been aware of for a long time but haven't picked up yet. Victim with a Capital V is utterly fantastic. I want more stories following the characters introduced here. I want prequels. How did this world get to where it is. I would read full length novels of what Scott lays down here. I think that speaks to how well Victim is written but also the concept he creates. Brandon Sandersons contribution focuses on my favourite character he has ever written and that is saying something. I mean, its Brandon Sanderson. In The Thrill, a sequence from the Stormlight Archives, we get to meet Dalinar Kholin as a younger man. These flashbacks show us recent history and help us to learn about the people who established the world we become familiar with in the first Stormlight novels(tomes, really). There are more great stories in this book but the ones I've highlighted really stuck with me. Unfettered Two is one of the best anthologies I have picked up and continues a wonderful legacy of stories gathered to protect those who need protecting. It is the worthiest of causes and a damn good book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    when available. Dresden Files story - Day One (Butters POV)

  15. 4 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    I received this as a bonus for supporting the kickstarter. This story is a fairy tale cliche. The writing was good but in the end, its an average read. Not bad but not good either.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fate's Lady

    This anthology is a good example of why we need fewer white dudes in charge. Few heroines, and the ones written by men were questionable. I don't think there were any POC. It gets bland. A lot of the stories were also cliches. Castle Coeurlieu ** Felt scattered and a little lost. Took a long time to get going, and once the pace picked up, the story just sort of shambled to a stop. A Slow Kill ***** As two men who both happen to be assassins dig a ditch together, one tells the other stories of some This anthology is a good example of why we need fewer white dudes in charge. Few heroines, and the ones written by men were questionable. I don't think there were any POC. It gets bland. A lot of the stories were also cliches. Castle Coeurlieu ** Felt scattered and a little lost. Took a long time to get going, and once the pace picked up, the story just sort of shambled to a stop. A Slow Kill ***** As two men who both happen to be assassins dig a ditch together, one tells the other stories of some of his kills. The way they came together was perfection. And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls ** A pair of royal dragons face the doom of their people. Somehow this story took something incredible and left me thinking "okay...and?" Day One **** Butters goes on his first mission as a Knight! I'm not sure how fun this would be for people who aren't a fan of the series, but... I am. So there you go. Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village * I'm not sure if this is melodramatic or if the reading is melodramatic in addition to being GODDAMN AWFUL, but I can't stand the audio narrator's bad, bad accents and weirdly strained voices. That plus a story that, at least at the beginning is so boring that I keep getting distracted... Aokigahara ** The writing is kind of pretty but the story is very subtle. A woman who has retreated from all but the virtual world is drawn out by a suicidal programmer for... reasons? I guess they make an AI together, but I'm so confused as to who the other woman is and why she did literally anything she did in that story. The Decoy ** I'm guessing that this is another story that makes more sense in the context of the series it came from. The King’s Despatcher ** Again I finished this story feeling like I'd just been given some random backstory for a series or something. Not particularly satisfying. Figures ** Silly, as it was intended to be. Unfortunately, the the whole thing is just a buildup to a punchline and the joke hinges on mocking online activism. The reader was excellent. The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Maˇ *** Neat story about redeeming a wronged village. A little too long and draggy in places. Pretty sure they appropriated and then messed up the djinn, though. Magic Beans **** Lighthearted and charming, featuring a cast of college students. The Hedgewitch **** A girl gets a push from a bossy hedge witch to face her fears and become a part of her community. Victim with a Capital V * Character development(?) through rape and attempted rape. Offensive as hell. A Duel of Evils * The tired conceit of a scholar recounting events past, made somehow even more dull by the fact that the recounting is nothing but an ordinary if bloody siege. The Raven **** Two brothers, the golden boy and the pragmatist, find themselves naturally opposed when the fate of their kingdom is at stake. Tom's character is so rich and complex. Bulletproof *** Forgettable. There's a duel that's supposed to decide the fate of the world, but it's almost background and over fast. A young man is learning lessons about life. The Gunnnie **** I liked this one. It felt like a complete story, not necessarily dependant on a larger series, and I appreciated the though and practical heroine. Little Wren and the Big Forest *** A little girl, underestimated by her family, goes into a cursed wood to save them all. Enjoyable but not extraordinary. The Thrill *** It's almost funny how incapable Sanderson is of writing short. Decent story, although the hero is not very likeable. The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch **** Good story. Felt complete, kept my interest, and I enjoyed the cast. Satisfying ending.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Boostamonte Halvorsen

    So small secret...I'm getting annoyed by these short story collections like this. And I feel bad for being super annoyed with this one since it is Shawn's tribute to his mother who passed away from cancer (That's her on the cover.) But honestly, I wish they would require the authors to write something new and not "new" from a long running series. For one, some of the series I haven't got to yet. Two, I read these collections to see if I like the writer's writing style--which still works, but hel So small secret...I'm getting annoyed by these short story collections like this. And I feel bad for being super annoyed with this one since it is Shawn's tribute to his mother who passed away from cancer (That's her on the cover.) But honestly, I wish they would require the authors to write something new and not "new" from a long running series. For one, some of the series I haven't got to yet. Two, I read these collections to see if I like the writer's writing style--which still works, but hell, I don't want to read a story involving some side thing that happens between book 5 and 6....especially when book two ended with believing one of the characters in that story were dead...I would have found out in book 3 but again, I haven't got that far. So, I'm frustrated that this seems to be a reoccurring thing. And sometimes it feels really heavy handed--looking at the Brandon Sanderson click-bait here--because yeah, I read everything from Sanderson...so what better way to sell this book by putting him in there with a short story from Stormlight Archive? (Side note--the story in this anthology was one I got to see Sanderson read at WorldCon 2015--whoop whoop) But I guess if it helps sell more copies in which all the proceeds go to charity then it is good to get a "show-runner" in the book. But still, wish it would have been all new stories in un-existing works by all authors... And don't get me wrong, there are some new ones here. Some are super good. Most are good, and very few were something I struggled to read. Magic Beans stole the show for me though

  18. 5 out of 5

    Glenn O'Bannon

    Ratings for each story individually (much more good than bad): Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik 4 stars A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian 4 stars And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls by Seanan McGuire 1 star Day One by Jim Butcher 5 stars Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village by Bradley P. Beaulieu 5 stars Aokigahara by John A. Pitts 2 stars The Decoy by Janny Wurts 5 stars The King’s Despatcher by David Farland 4 stars Figures by Rachel Caine 1 star The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Maˇ by Aidan Moher Ratings for each story individually (much more good than bad): Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik 4 stars A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian 4 stars And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls by Seanan McGuire 1 star Day One by Jim Butcher 5 stars Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village by Bradley P. Beaulieu 5 stars Aokigahara by John A. Pitts 2 stars The Decoy by Janny Wurts 5 stars The King’s Despatcher by David Farland 4 stars Figures by Rachel Caine 1 star The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Maˇ by Aidan Moher 3 stars Magic Beans by Django Wexler 1 star The Hedgewitch by Sarah Beth Durst 4 stars Victim with a Capital V by Scott Sigler 2 stars A Duel of Evils by Anthony Ryan 3 stars The Raven by Erin Lindsey 4 stars Bulletproof by Mark Lawrence 2 stars The Gunnnie by Charlaine Harris 3 stars Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael J. Sullivan 2 stars The Thrill by Brandon Sanderson 2 stars The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch by Shawn Speakman 4 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Riana Elizabeth

    Castle Coeurlieu A Slow Kill (Vault of Heaven) And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls Day One (Dresden Files) Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village (Song of Shattered Sands) Aokigahara The Decoy (Wars of Light and Shadow) The King's Despatcher (Runelords) Figures The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ Magic Beans The Hedgewitch (The Queens of Renthia) Victim with a Capital V A Duel of Evils (Raven's Shadow) The Raven (Bloodbound) Bulletproof (Gunlaw) The Gunnie Little Wren and the Big Forest (The Legends of Castle Coeurlieu A Slow Kill (Vault of Heaven) And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls Day One (Dresden Files) Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village (Song of Shattered Sands) Aokigahara The Decoy (Wars of Light and Shadow) The King's Despatcher (Runelords) Figures The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ Magic Beans The Hedgewitch (The Queens of Renthia) Victim with a Capital V A Duel of Evils (Raven's Shadow) The Raven (Bloodbound) Bulletproof (Gunlaw) The Gunnie Little Wren and the Big Forest (The Legends of the First Empire) The Thrill (Stormlight Archive) The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch (Annwn Cycle) Completed so far: Castle Coeurlieu - 3 stars - Too many hints of seperate pieces that weren't fleshed out enough. I always like when an author doesn't spoodfeed the reader and leaves them some of those discovery "aha" moments...it just seems some of these weren't worked through. A Slow Kill (Vault of Heaven) - 5 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ben Lund

    I liked this one even more than the first Unfettered. In the first one, there were some stories that I didn't like or didn't enjoy, but in this one there was none of that. There were some stories I enjoyed more than others, everyone has their favorite authors, but I can't say I didn't enjoy them. There was no eye-rolling, no sighs of frustration at how a story turned out. I think a reason for that is that the writers are free to choose what they want to write, there are no restriction on them to I liked this one even more than the first Unfettered. In the first one, there were some stories that I didn't like or didn't enjoy, but in this one there was none of that. There were some stories I enjoyed more than others, everyone has their favorite authors, but I can't say I didn't enjoy them. There was no eye-rolling, no sighs of frustration at how a story turned out. I think a reason for that is that the writers are free to choose what they want to write, there are no restriction on them to fit a story to a theme so they can write with more freedom then they would otherwise have. I liked this book, the stories were not overly long, each one felt like a story the author wanted to tell and this was the anthology for it, plus a sneak peek at the flashback scenes from the 3rd book of the Stormlight Series? Hello, that's a no brainer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Adam Fisher

    NOTE: I only read "Day One" by Jim Butcher. So happy to finally see Butters getting his own story! The medical examiner, now a Knight of the Cross, tells the tale of some of his training, and the adventure of his first Calling. Stan, a homeless man that seems consumed by fear, is on a bench in the park... with an "!" over his head (apparently God speaks to you in the way you would most easily understand and for Butters that is video games. Getting him to the hospital, Butters finds that 7 other pe NOTE: I only read "Day One" by Jim Butcher. So happy to finally see Butters getting his own story! The medical examiner, now a Knight of the Cross, tells the tale of some of his training, and the adventure of his first Calling. Stan, a homeless man that seems consumed by fear, is on a bench in the park... with an "!" over his head (apparently God speaks to you in the way you would most easily understand and for Butters that is video games. Getting him to the hospital, Butters finds that 7 other people in the hospital are all suffering from huge fear consumption. The culprit: a Baku, a modern day dream spirit made flesh by the belief of children. Trusty lightsaber of Faith in hand, Butters wins the day, but at the cost of his glasses. Now the wait begins for Peace Talks OR Brief Cases.... but what a great ride its been.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Maybe 3.5 stars. I like short story collections where the short stories are in and of themselves complete but over half of this collection were stories that were spin-offs or tie-ins to other books & series written by the authors. In some cases this was relatively non-intrusive and didn't play much into the story (Little Wren and the Big Forest and A Slow Kill for example) but in others the backstory details largely drowned the short story (The Raven and The King's Despatcher in particular). The Maybe 3.5 stars. I like short story collections where the short stories are in and of themselves complete but over half of this collection were stories that were spin-offs or tie-ins to other books & series written by the authors. In some cases this was relatively non-intrusive and didn't play much into the story (Little Wren and the Big Forest and A Slow Kill for example) but in others the backstory details largely drowned the short story (The Raven and The King's Despatcher in particular). There were a few real gems like Victim with a Capital V, Magic Beans, A Slow Kill, and Figures but most of the stories were just okay and largely forgettable.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Russell

    I plan to finish reading this, but I don't even need to finish to know this will get 5 stars. I read one story, “Castle Coeurlieu” by Naomi Novik, which was great, before impatiently skipping to "The Thrill" by Brandon Sanderson, which is a short story in his "Stormlight Archive" series, taking place during the conquering/uniting of Alethkar. I couldn't be more impressed. Brandon always knocks it out of the park with his Cosmere stories. Now back to my book. Crossing my fingers that I find anothe I plan to finish reading this, but I don't even need to finish to know this will get 5 stars. I read one story, “Castle Coeurlieu” by Naomi Novik, which was great, before impatiently skipping to "The Thrill" by Brandon Sanderson, which is a short story in his "Stormlight Archive" series, taking place during the conquering/uniting of Alethkar. I couldn't be more impressed. Brandon always knocks it out of the park with his Cosmere stories. Now back to my book. Crossing my fingers that I find another series worth reading based on a story in this anthology. I found The Demon Cycle in Unfettered I, and that was excellent.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alonso Mitza

    Listened to this on Audiobook. Great anthology, and the narrators (particularly whoever narrated "A Slow Kill") give the tales a great amount of depth. The only downside I have is that several stories are set upon existing fantasy worlds and, if you have no background on them, you will miss lots of references. The upside of the downside is that I now really want to read the Dresden Files.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eric Evans

    There's a great cause behind this book. That being said I'm glad I purchased it with that in mind. There were 2 - 4 stories I actually enjoyed. The Jim Butcher story was great, I mean really you can't go wrong with Jedi Butters. I also enjoyed Shawn's own story. Sadly Terry Brooks was advertised when buying my copy. Brooks wrote a wonderful forward, but no story. Overall buy it for the cause and maybe you'll enjoy more than I did.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    Anthologies are hard to rate. This one in particular as there we a few really good short stories and a few not so great. They do serve as a great opportunity to meet new authors. I got this from my library because it had a story by Kevin Hearne. As usual, he does not disappoint. Finally, for those who might have more money than I do and who purchase books vs borrowing from a library, proceeds from this book benefit cancer charity.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John G

    Solid collection, few clinkers I bought this largely to fill a hole in my Dresden Files collection, but it was fun to poke around the edges of some other series, some by writers I've never read. Most were solid, one or two extremely good, a couple not so good. That's the nature of the Collection Beast. However, it passed the "fun to read" test.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yatin Diwakar

    Reading such books, you are left wanting for more. Short stories, set in established worlds, some you know of, most you don't. But all of them very enjoyable, very different in settings, protagonists and approaches of the writers. This is like the perfect food festival where you get to sample a lot of lip-smacking dishes from the best chefs and are still not too full to pass on the next dish....

  29. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Only read the Dalinar chapters. The first chapter was EXCELLENT. It slowed down as the chapters progressed, but with good reason. I think the rest of the Dalinar chapters (when they release) will make the piece feel way more complete.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Luci

    A nice mixed bag of stories. The only issue I had is that I am unfamiliar with some of these longer works that the stories fit into that I did get a little lost. Other than that, the stories were, for the most part, pretty well put together.

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