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Unfettered III: New Tales By Masters of Fantasy

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Lacking health insurance when he was diagnosed with cancer, Shawn Speakman asked friends in the science fiction and fantasy writing community to donate short stories he could use to counter mounting medical debt. The result was Unfettered, an anthology offering tales from some of the best authors working today. Now, in Unfettered III, Speakman continues to pay forward the a Lacking health insurance when he was diagnosed with cancer, Shawn Speakman asked friends in the science fiction and fantasy writing community to donate short stories he could use to counter mounting medical debt. The result was Unfettered, an anthology offering tales from some of the best authors working today. Now, in Unfettered III, Speakman continues to pay forward the aid he received, raising money to combat medical debt for SF&F artists and authors. He has gathered together a great mix of new and favorite writers―free to write what they like―the result a powerful new anthology perfect for all readers. Be haunted by the chilling ghost story of Megan Lindholm. Revisit the world of the Magicians with Lev Grossman. Return to Osten Ard in an epic first look at Tad Williams’s Empire of Grass. Callie Bates shares a heartfelt story of magical loss and gain. Cross the sands of the desert planet Dune with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Travel the Ways with Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson. And many more stories, all wondrous alongside beautiful art by Todd Lockwood and Kaitlund Zupanic! Unfettered III is sure to astound with the magic bound within its pages. All the while raising money for a charitable cause. Because protecting our artists and authors is as important as the stories they tell.


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Lacking health insurance when he was diagnosed with cancer, Shawn Speakman asked friends in the science fiction and fantasy writing community to donate short stories he could use to counter mounting medical debt. The result was Unfettered, an anthology offering tales from some of the best authors working today. Now, in Unfettered III, Speakman continues to pay forward the a Lacking health insurance when he was diagnosed with cancer, Shawn Speakman asked friends in the science fiction and fantasy writing community to donate short stories he could use to counter mounting medical debt. The result was Unfettered, an anthology offering tales from some of the best authors working today. Now, in Unfettered III, Speakman continues to pay forward the aid he received, raising money to combat medical debt for SF&F artists and authors. He has gathered together a great mix of new and favorite writers―free to write what they like―the result a powerful new anthology perfect for all readers. Be haunted by the chilling ghost story of Megan Lindholm. Revisit the world of the Magicians with Lev Grossman. Return to Osten Ard in an epic first look at Tad Williams’s Empire of Grass. Callie Bates shares a heartfelt story of magical loss and gain. Cross the sands of the desert planet Dune with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Travel the Ways with Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson. And many more stories, all wondrous alongside beautiful art by Todd Lockwood and Kaitlund Zupanic! Unfettered III is sure to astound with the magic bound within its pages. All the while raising money for a charitable cause. Because protecting our artists and authors is as important as the stories they tell.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    A collection of short stories, some far too long, and far too many dependent on the reader already knowing and caring about an existing series. "The Heart Box"--Callie Bates. After his family dies in a car accident, a man removes his heart and becomes an emotionless immortal. Eventually a single mother and her child move in next door and he decides to reclaim his heart and live again. Fine but did nothing for me. "Everybody Said It Would Hurt"--Lev Grossman. A section cut out from the 3rd book in A collection of short stories, some far too long, and far too many dependent on the reader already knowing and caring about an existing series. "The Heart Box"--Callie Bates. After his family dies in a car accident, a man removes his heart and becomes an emotionless immortal. Eventually a single mother and her child move in next door and he decides to reclaim his heart and live again. Fine but did nothing for me. "Everybody Said It Would Hurt"--Lev Grossman. A section cut out from the 3rd book in the Magicians trilogy. I don't know these characters or what various clues mean (Quentin's watch?) so a good amount of this passed me by. Still, I liked Plum and her magical experiments, and I bet fans of the Magicians will be thrilled to read this. "A Thousand Years"--Mark Lawrence. Vikings (view spoiler)[in a post-apocalyptic Earth (hide spoiler)] go on a troll hunt. Along the way, clever but weak Olaf proves his worth, while Snorri realizes he has to be a father to his son. Well enough written that I intend to seek out the larger series this relates to. "Among a Throng of Bilious Octogenarians"--Delilah S. Dawson. Thirteen pages of "Barthur" (a cutesey version of Arthur) trying to get the Elders' blessing for his quest and them mishearing him. Thirteen pages of this. "Blood of the Sardaukar"--Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson. A clunkily written short story about a Sardaukar colonel who has I think one line in Dune. "Allanon's Quest"--Terry Brooks. A prequel short story to The Sword of Shannara. As boring and by-the-numbers generic fantasy as the rest of the series it comes from. "Kneeling Before Jupiter"--David Anthony Durham. Roman nobles get turned into vampires when they reach adulthood. Tedious because the main character doesn't understand what's going on but the reader immediately does, but still has to come along for the multitude of pages it takes him to figure it out. "Stripes in the Sunset"--Seanan McGuire. Extinct species start being born to existing animal species. Meanwhile, human children stop being born. McGuire is always good for a cool concept, and this story is just long enough to deliver on it without overstaying its welcome. "All That Glitters"--Marc Turner. Two thieves try to get off an island with a flask of dragon's blood. A fun slice of adventure. "The Heir Apparent"--John Gwynne. Prequel short story about a character from The Faithful and the Fallen, a series I have not read. Rhin is competent and merciless, which I appreciate. "Dancing on the Edge"--Deborah A Wolf. Prequel short story about a character from The Dragon's Legacy, another series I have not read. Yaela and her sister are slaves in a pitiless desert. They do whatever they need to do to survive, but at last only one of them can escape. I liked the writing and really liked that the only ways to survive daylight in their location are to live underground or to dance a cloak of shadows upon oneself. I'm intrigued! "Prologue: Second Book of the Evertide"--Todd Lockwood. Short story from another fantasy series I have not read. Two guys and their dragons fight to the death. I don't know why and I didn't know the characters, so I had no feelings whatsoever about the fight or who won. Adding a bit of personality to the characters, or explanation for why it mattered whether Qorru or Magha won, could've made this story interesting to people who haven't already read The Summer Dragon. "Thasha's Cure for Cabin Fever"--Robert V.S. Redick. A short story set in yet another fantasy series I have not read. Written in a convoluted way such that it's hard to tell which dialog or actions belong to which characters. "How Not to Invade a Country"--Anna Stephens. A short story set in yet another fantasy series I have not read, but this one actually provides characterization and context, plus a nice amount of wry humor in the narrative voice. Crys has been demoted and given a crappy posting in a boring area--luckily or unluckily enough, his commander makes enough foolish choices that he's forced into some heroics. This story made me want to read more by Stephens. "The Paper Man"--Peter Orullian. A would-be writer is visited by a tiny man made out of paper, and slowly realizes the price he must pay for good writing. I dunno, the idea is fine but this just felt like it took a while to get anywhere. I think I'm just too disinterested in ~being a writer~ to care about this story. "Merchants Have Maxims"--Cat Rambo. Short story set in a fantasy series I have not read. I got bored and didn't finish this. "Of Anchor Chains and Slow Refrains and Light Long Lost in Darkness"--Ken Scholes. Prequel set in a fantasy series I have not read. Childhood friends King Rudolfo and Gregoric have a pirate adventure and prove their loyalty to each other yet again. "Second Chances"--Megan Lindholm. A crew member on a reality show is sensitive to ghosts, which helps when the latest house the cast is going to rehab turns out to be haunted. I liked this (not least because it wasn't yet another short story set in a medieval pseudo-European fantasy series). "The Hidden"--Tad Williams. Excerpt from a fantasy series I haven't read. Some creepy imagery! "Throwdown"--Scott Sigler. Set in a sort of Western post-apocalyptic setting. Didn't care for it. "Sidekick"--Carrie Vaughn. A secretary wakes up in a hospital after an accident she doesn't remember. The hospital staff seem weirdly focused on asking her questions about her boss. Great fun! "Hawkeye"--Patrick Swenson. An investigator who can talk to hawks is tasked with finding out what happened to a priceless gem. Contains way too many infodumps and the last 6 pages are just the main character tediously explaining the mystery (which is both very simple and overly complicated--the twist that the queen is an Exchanger instead of a Changer is a good one, but the endless Exchanges that are recounted are completely unnecessary to both plot and reader). "The Spectral Sword"--Ramon Terrell. A short story set in another fantasy series I haven't read. A man gets a magic sword. Didn't hold my interest. "Gold Light"--Anna Smith Spark. Short story in another fantasy series I haven't read. Creepy but beautiful, a bit like Tanith Lee. A princess watches her brother the king talk to a dragon, and realizes what she must do. "The Stone Golem of Qual'Jom"--Jason Denzel. A stone golem lives for eons. I liked its point of view, particularly in the first half when it's figuring out its earthly form. "A Fire Within the Ways"--Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. A cut novella (it's 70 pages) from the final book in the Wheel of Time series. I stopped caring about this series years ago and skipped this entirely. "Seven"--Naomi Novik. GodDAMN this was a good story. A potter's wife takes up pottery to make ends meet, and is so good she's given the honor of working with bone clay--clay so pure and white that all yearn to work with it, but that inevitably kills those who do so. Reminded me of LeGuin, a bit, in the pairing of imagination and grounded characters who have to worry about feeding their children. "The Fire-Risen Ash"--Shawn Speakman. Overcomplicated fantasy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kend

    After I spent a bit of time getting to know the stories in my delightful ARC (thank you Grim Oak Press!), I spent a bit more time getting to know the backstory to this anthology, the third in a series of anthologies edited by Shawn Speakman—and let me tell you, there's nothing that more epitomizes the year 2019 than an anthology of top-shelf science fiction and fantasy authors designed as a creative solution to paying down someone's medical debt. I highly recommend taking a peek at the "about" p After I spent a bit of time getting to know the stories in my delightful ARC (thank you Grim Oak Press!), I spent a bit more time getting to know the backstory to this anthology, the third in a series of anthologies edited by Shawn Speakman—and let me tell you, there's nothing that more epitomizes the year 2019 than an anthology of top-shelf science fiction and fantasy authors designed as a creative solution to paying down someone's medical debt. I highly recommend taking a peek at the "about" page on Grim Oak Press's website, which you can find [ here ], where Speakman's story (and the larger story of the Unfettered series) is spelled out in more detail than I can do justice to here. Suffice it to say, everything behind the scenes (behind the pages?) of this anthology speaks to the humanity and general all-round excellence of the authors involved ... as well as to the sad ultimate truth of (hopefully) late-stage capitalism: when systems like the American health-care system fail you, good people are the ones who are left to pull you out of the fire. Sometimes they may be your last line of defense. And even though Unshuttered was the rare success story of a creative solution gone right, not everyone has access to the kinds of authors that Speakman does, or to the apparatus of publication, or the marketing and promotional gifts required to make a success out of a project like this. Good people, I guess I mean to say, are not a substitute for humane systems of government. Okay, whew. *steps off soapbox* I cannot speak to the previous two anthologies, which I have not had the pleasure of finding copies of, but the stories collected in Unshuttered III are representative of a wide range of voices and types and forms and genres. Standouts, in my mind, include Seanan McGuire's "Stripes in the Sunset," Carrie Vaughn's "Sidekick," and Naomi Novik's "Seven." "Stripes of Sunset" punched me in the emotional gut and makes for an excellent companion to de-extinction and "rewilding" narratives like Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 . "Sidekick" provides a fun companion piece to our global obsession with superhero narratives where the human cost and human collateral is often overlooked. And "Seven" pulls some lyrical moves reminiscent of Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," only with a more positive take on the bedrock of human nature. Other readers, of course, will be excited to see banner-name authors like Lev Grossman, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, and Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson represented in this anthology, as well. They're not my cup of tea, but their involvement speaks volumes about both them and the general quality of this anthology. It's a good book. It's supporting a good cause. And some of its stories made me cry—in a good way. What more could you want out of an anthology, I ask you?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    Like a fairy tale, fantasy and history- loving nerdy girl walking into a Renaissance festival for the first time, I too had these feelings upon receiving this anthology. The eye of the dragon babe and egg licked by fire on the cover is mesmerizing and beckoned me straight away. Fantastic, full of awe, and enthralling. Each story is a precious gift like a cup of mead to the Vikings. So much love for this anthology. -Sara S.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    I've just read an excerpt of 'Seven' by Naomi Novik, which is available to read for free on tor.com. I really enjoyed it. I would say this even if Naomi Novik wasn't one of my favourite authors. 4.5 stars for the bit I've read so far. Hopefully, the rest of this anthology is as good when I eventually get round to reading it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Cooke

    The quality of any short story collection will naturally wax and wane throughout, and Unfettered III is no exception. But the bar starts out high, and only rarely dips below exceptional. As a result, the overall reading experience left me very satisfied. I was already a fan of Brandon Sanderson and Lev Grossman, and their stories prompted me to buy the collection in the first place. Along the way, I fell in love with Naomi Novik, Carrie Vaughan, Jason Denzel, and several others. Terry Brooks and The quality of any short story collection will naturally wax and wane throughout, and Unfettered III is no exception. But the bar starts out high, and only rarely dips below exceptional. As a result, the overall reading experience left me very satisfied. I was already a fan of Brandon Sanderson and Lev Grossman, and their stories prompted me to buy the collection in the first place. Along the way, I fell in love with Naomi Novik, Carrie Vaughan, Jason Denzel, and several others. Terry Brooks and Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson have never particularly engaged me, and Delilah S. Dawson gave me the only story I wish I had skipped. But these are only small flaws in an otherwise first-rate collection.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Potter

    As with all anthologies, some of these appealed to me while others did not. First, let's get out of the way the simple fact that every narrator involved with the project is amazing! I couldn't have asked for better. Now, as with previous volumes of Unfettered, I read it primarily for Brandon Sanderson's entry as I'm A Wheel of Time junkie. That being said, I'm not normally a fan of short stories, but there were several noteworthy gems here. First, since reading 2/3 of the Sword of Shannara some year As with all anthologies, some of these appealed to me while others did not. First, let's get out of the way the simple fact that every narrator involved with the project is amazing! I couldn't have asked for better. Now, as with previous volumes of Unfettered, I read it primarily for Brandon Sanderson's entry as I'm A Wheel of Time junkie. That being said, I'm not normally a fan of short stories, but there were several noteworthy gems here. First, since reading 2/3 of the Sword of Shannara some years ago I have actively avoided Terry Brooks. Nothing about it really interested me. So imagine my surprise when I find a prequel story to it here about Alenon and discover that I actually really enjoyed not only the story but also the writing itself and the voice. I'll definitely be giving Brooks another chance in the near future! Tad Williams has been on my radar for a long time, but after reading this story I'll definitely be moving him up on my tbr. Naomi Novik is another one whose books have been on my agenda for a while. The fantasy element of this story is quite subtle, but having lost my own mother to cancer, it deals with a subject that is very close to my heart and does so in such a touchingly beautiful and poignant way, I couldn't help but love the story. Her books are definitely being moved up on my tbr as well. Ramon Terrell is an author I had never heard of before, and after this sampling of his writing I can't understand why! The story was a little strange, with a multi dimensional sword and travel as well as some pretty unusual creatures, but it all came together nicely and he writes in an incredibly compelling voice and style! It's unfortunate that he doesn't have audio versions of his books, but I've already picked up his latest novel. Jason Denzel is another that I had never heard of but will definitely be looking into his other work. And finally, of course the bonus Dune story by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson was fantastic. Some really great back story there about the Sardakar and Selucia Secunda. In the end, I would say that this anthology has something to offer every fantasy fan, and you never know, you just might discover your new favorite author herein.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    SECOND CHANCES So far I've only read this excellent ghost story from one of my favourite writers, Megan Lindholm - aka Robin Hobb. I love how she juxtaposes the down-to-earth with supernatural elements and brilliant bits of subtle characterisation. And the behind the scenes look at reality TV is a lot of fun. I always know I'm in safe hands with Robin. Would happily listen to her narrate paint drying. And then I'd buy the book. Quotes: 'I just wanted to go home, take a very hot bath and find a natu SECOND CHANCES So far I've only read this excellent ghost story from one of my favourite writers, Megan Lindholm - aka Robin Hobb. I love how she juxtaposes the down-to-earth with supernatural elements and brilliant bits of subtle characterisation. And the behind the scenes look at reality TV is a lot of fun. I always know I'm in safe hands with Robin. Would happily listen to her narrate paint drying. And then I'd buy the book. Quotes: 'I just wanted to go home, take a very hot bath and find a nature documentary and fall asleep to hyenas eating gazelles. Something natural and restful.' 'She didn't talk much, but she listened. She really listened. She asked me what music I was playing in my headphones, and I told her. And the next week, she got me a Mötley Crüe T-shirt.' https://www.tor.com/2019/02/11/read-s...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Haley

    I like and don't like anthologies. I like them because it's a way to get introduced to a whole bunch of authors you may not have read from before, but I don't like them because sometimes the stories in them get really confusing out of context or don't have quite enough to them to suck me in and keep my interest. I liked most of the stories in here, and there were a few that I tabbed for a re-read. For the most part, though, I found myself losing interest in the stories or having a really hard ti I like and don't like anthologies. I like them because it's a way to get introduced to a whole bunch of authors you may not have read from before, but I don't like them because sometimes the stories in them get really confusing out of context or don't have quite enough to them to suck me in and keep my interest. I liked most of the stories in here, and there were a few that I tabbed for a re-read. For the most part, though, I found myself losing interest in the stories or having a really hard time concentrating.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Micah Hall

    Read for Smith Spark and Lawrence 4.5/5 I read 2 shorts in this anthology for a pallet cleanser and they were awesome. One by Mark Lawrence the other by Anna Smith Spark. Both authors I love for their immersive prose.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicki

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. You can't really label a book like this, it's standalone on some stories and bits and pieces on others. So far I've found this collection a bit heavy on the testosterone but still some good shorts and I would have paid a credit for Naomi Novik's incredible story alone. As I need a rating for Goodreads I would give it 3.5* rounded up to 4 because there are several really great stories in here but the fact that it has so many excerpts, prequels, sequels and other stories that don't standalone is e You can't really label a book like this, it's standalone on some stories and bits and pieces on others. So far I've found this collection a bit heavy on the testosterone but still some good shorts and I would have paid a credit for Naomi Novik's incredible story alone. As I need a rating for Goodreads I would give it 3.5* rounded up to 4 because there are several really great stories in here but the fact that it has so many excerpts, prequels, sequels and other stories that don't standalone is either a plus or a minus depending on if you are unfamiliar with the series or are gaining another piece of your favourite literary world. Note chapters here are for Amazon Echo and noted so I can easily listen to my favourite stories again, they may not correspond to those for other devices. 3* and above is a good mark from me. chapter 3 -14 The Heart Box Callie Bateshas a good 3 * a favourite author writing a sci fi short with a contemporary/near future feel. How do you cope with losing everything? *Chapter 15 - 16 Lev Grossman. Everybody said it would hurt. 3.5*. I may try more books with this character depending on narrator and therefore rating may change when listened to in context. Hopes and expectations. Chapter 17 - 18 Mark Lawrence. A Thousand years. Nordic short that will appeal to fans of the author. I need a bit more depth to my characters than I get here but the fast moving fantasy action plot is one many readers will enjoy. Chapter 19 - 20 Delilah s Dawson. Among a throng of bilious expectations. Tales of Pell. Humour. Not my type of humour but another one a lot of people will listen to again and again. While I loved the narration in this book, this particular story literally made my head hurt at times. Chapter 21 - 22 (Triggers. Doesn't really standalone.) Blood of the Sardica. Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson. While I enjoyed Dune as a teenager I prefer more depth and less murderous retribution from my characters these days. Great writing of a fast paced sci fi short. While I probably won't relisten to it because the content is bleak with little chance for comfort it is worth listening to. 3.5* alone 4* with series. On the nature of retribution. Chapter 23 -24 Terry Brooks Alanon's quest. prequel from his The Sword of Shannaraseries.One for fans of the series. Chapter 25. 26 David Anthony Durham (Alternate Horror version Rome.) Kneeling before Jupiter. Interesting but possibly one that would appeal to a male audience more than it would to me, despite a the few hints of sarcastic humour I enjoyed. Chapter 27- 28 Seanan McGuire Stripes in the Sunset. Sci fi. What would we do with a miracle? 3.25* Chapter 29 - 30 All that Glitters Marc Turner. Sisters are doing it for themselves tags. Fantasy short. The blood of dragons. 3.5* *Chapter 31 - 32 Heir apparent 3.5* John Gwynne backstory sisters are doing it for themselves. Prequel. Playing riddles with Giants. Chapter 33 -34. Dancing on the edge Deborah A Wolf dark. Two nomadic sisters are property. fantasy backstory 3* on own probably much higher if books are read. Chapter 35- 36 Todd Lockwood except from 2nd book of Evertide. Chapter 37 - 38 Robert V S. Redick cute for cabin fever set after this authors series. I didn't listen to the series so 3* story but probably higher if I knew the books. *Chapter 39 - 40. How not to invade a country.Anna Stephens. fun fantasy short. From God Blind but standalone story.3.5* Title speaks for itself. Chapter41 - 42 The Paper Man Peter Orullian. Contemporary fantasy introspection Chapter 43 - 44. Merchants have maxims. Cat Rambo. Set before Beasts of Tibet. 3.* The cost of knowledge. chapter 45 -46. Ken Scholes of Anchor chains and slow refrains *Chapter 47 - 48 Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb). Second chances. Wonderful contemporary, mystery, fantasy with plenty of humour. A really different style of story than I'm used to from this author but still brilliant as always. One of my favourites in the collection. 4.5* The art of home improvement. Chapter 49- 50 Tad Williams except of book called The Hidden. *Chapter 51-52 Scott Sigler Throw down sequel to Victim with a capital V in Unfettered 2 (one of the stories I enjoyed in the previous book). Not sure if this is alternate universe or post apocalyptic Western with fantasy elements. 3.75* as part of series. I hope there's more of this. *Chapter 53-54 Sidekick Carrie Vaughn. 4* Superhero. Another day at the office. Chapter 55- 56 Patrick Swenson Hawkeye. Chapter 57-62 Ramon Terrell prequel to Echoes. The Spectral sword. chapter 63 - 64 Anna Smith Spark. Gold light. Exists in world Empires of dust but is standalone. 3* chapter 65_66 Jason Denzel. The stone golem of (Qual john?) * Chapter 67 - 79 Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. From A Memory of Light but not cannon, a glimpse of where final book could have gone but did not. Does not standalone but fortunately I'm A Wheel Of Time fan. A Fire within the ways. Chapter 80 -81*Naomi Novik Seven. Beautifully written feminist fantasy that pulled me in from start to finish. In a mythical city rich in culture and beauty, where men hold all positions of respect and power, a widow struggles to provide for her family. 5* On everything. Chapter 82 Shawn Speakman. The fire risen ash. Fun fantasy romp. Standalone Ratings also reflect performance by amazing narrators I really recommend the audio on this. I've actually listened to some of these a few times now but have finally finished them all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Great mix of stories and I discovered a lot of interesting authors that I haven't heard of before. My favorite story was Fire in the Ways by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Perrin started out as one of my favorite characters in the Wheel of Time novels and I always felt like he could've been so much more. In this short story I finally got to see him at his best, leading a carefully selected group of people through one of the scariest places in existence. There were a lot of other good stori Great mix of stories and I discovered a lot of interesting authors that I haven't heard of before. My favorite story was Fire in the Ways by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Perrin started out as one of my favorite characters in the Wheel of Time novels and I always felt like he could've been so much more. In this short story I finally got to see him at his best, leading a carefully selected group of people through one of the scariest places in existence. There were a lot of other good stories as well, all the big names are here. Novik, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams and many more. We even get to jump into the world of classic Dune for a chapter. One of these days I'll have to check out the other Unfettered collections as well. I've never read a short story collection before where I enjoyed most of the stories, usually, I like a few and move on. But I could easily see myself re-reading quite a few of these in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    A mixed bag, as anthologies always are, and I skipped freely, but on whole definitely worth reading. Of authors familiar to me, I especially enjoyed the Megan Lindholm, Seanan McGuire, and Naomi Novik stories, and I plan to read more by Callie Bates, Anna Stephens, and Deborah A. Wolf.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stewart

    I may get to the rest of this book at some point, but this review is for "A Fire within the Ways" by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, the reason I got this ebook (and audiobook) from Amazon. It was such a pleasure to enjoy another trip to the Wheel of Time universe, that really anything would have been welcome, but to get a really meaty, if non-canon, Perrin story was an absolute pleasure. I don't want to spoil anything, but if anyone out there is on the fence about this title wondering if it' I may get to the rest of this book at some point, but this review is for "A Fire within the Ways" by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, the reason I got this ebook (and audiobook) from Amazon. It was such a pleasure to enjoy another trip to the Wheel of Time universe, that really anything would have been welcome, but to get a really meaty, if non-canon, Perrin story was an absolute pleasure. I don't want to spoil anything, but if anyone out there is on the fence about this title wondering if it's worth it for just one WoT story, the answer is an emphatic YES. The book is also for a good cause. Highest recommendation!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mahadev

    A fantastic collection of short stories. There were one or two that did not impress me, but for an anthology, this is a superb collection of stories. a great way to get introduced to some authors that I do not have familiarity with.

  15. 5 out of 5

    T.O. Munro

    I wrote a story by story review of a publishers ARC which was first published on the fantasy-hive.co.uk website in 2 parts https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2019/03/un... and https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2019/06/un... Each story in Unfettered III is prefaced by a short authorial piece setting the context and inspiration for that contributor’s piece story. It is an interesting feature that I hadn’t noticed in other anthologies and brings into sharp relief the two main camps into which the contributors to th I wrote a story by story review of a publishers ARC which was first published on the fantasy-hive.co.uk website in 2 parts https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2019/03/un... and https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2019/06/un... Each story in Unfettered III is prefaced by a short authorial piece setting the context and inspiration for that contributor’s piece story. It is an interesting feature that I hadn’t noticed in other anthologies and brings into sharp relief the two main camps into which the contributors to this substantial and varied collection can be divided. The majority have taken the chance to give us a deeper insight into one of their main works through a related short story. Either the back story to a much-loved character, an insight into a key event seen from a different minor character’s perspective, or some well-crafted extract that fell to the cutting room floor in the brutal cut and thrust of editing. A minority of contributors have stepped entirely outside their previous oeuvre to deliver a standalone tale of one form or another. To be fair, whatever their origins, there are several tales which straddle that simple divide – birthed in a larger milieu yet with the vibrancy of a self-contained story that begs neither antecedents nor successors. There are others where the ending more explicitly beckons you to follow the author into the greater work on which the story drew. Since the total review of all the stories exceeds Goodreads character limit I will just paste mini reviews of my favourite stories here. The Stone Golem of Qual’jom by Jason Denzel As an eternity unfolds in Denzel’s story, it is impossible not to feel empathy for a lump of stone. Golems are a rich vein for fantasy authors to explore – the fantasy equivalent of sci-fi’s robots with their incredible strengths, endless patience, blind obedience and the inevitable psyche-warping contradictions in seeking to protect without harming. The first person perspective of golem stories enhances their poignancy, and as the eons stretch out before Denzel’s golem, I was reminded of H.G. Wells’ time traveller watching the millennia fly by in an instant of sitting on his machine, or David Lowery’s gently mesmerising film “A Ghost Story” starring Casey Affleck, described as a “singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence.” At times too, the golem’s experience evoked N.K. Jemisin’s depiction of a living, sensing planet in her Broken Earth trilogy. A majestically sweeping evocation of the totality of existence in a single short story. Throwdown by Scott Sigler Sigler picks up in Unfettered III where he left off with Unfettered II, making this the second in a potential series of short stories about Lisa, a glass-throwing killer on the run. ‘Glass-throwing’ here means throwing lethal slivers of sharpened glass – the only weapon in a future world where all metal has wasted to rust. I really enjoyed this story which combines both the sense of backstory you get with a series and the completeness of an arc you get from a standalone. While there were a few irksome typos – more so than elsewhere in the anthology – the central spine to the story held me tight. Lisa, trapped by obligation and circumstance, is forced into a true Mexican standoff, part gunfight, part duel. I daren’t say more than. Just – wow. Seven by Naomi Novik Novik’s standalone story struck home more sharply than most, not just for its quality but also for its poignant dedication to Kathy Speakman, who inspired it but did not get to read it. I liked this one so much – a patriarchal society in an accidentally-named city of Seven, where master potters are revered with the same fervour as a modern pop star and the potters in turn aspire to be the one permitted to work with the lethal but alluring white clay. Grandmasters, once elevated to their lofty post, inevitably enjoy a few short years of intense but fantastic creativity (like Schubert in his period of remission) before an accumulation of injuries from sharps hidden within the white clay carries them off. Into this small but perfectly formed fantasy world comes Kath, widow of a master potter, with children to feed and no means of support beyond bringing her husband’s unfinished stock to fire and sell. And standing-grim faced in defence of pottery proprieties is Grovin. I love the writing; the gentle evocation of setting and character, of the value of art, of the differences in a man and a woman’s approach to peril – one blinded by opportunity, the other weighed by responsibility. This story stuck with me. Dancing on the Edge by Deborah A. Wolf Wolf conjures up the desperate desert plight of Yaela, trapped by day away from the sun’s heat in a shadowy crevice with her crippled abusive husband and the rest of his nag of wives (a collective term I guess was invented by the overpowered patriarchy of the world). Like its heroine Yaela, this linked story stands well enough and strong enough on its own two feet. The magic – the shadows in which Yaela wraps herself to hunt and trap and brave the sun’s heat, the dance she weaves with another magician – are all conveyed with a touch as light and sure as a lizard’s foot on boiling sands. The first-person narrative gives an additional intimacy, Yaela’s voice and tone running through the narrative to help immerse the reader in a blunt, simple world of persecution and discrimination, of marriage as slavery in a hostile environment. The reader yearns to cheer for the moment when Yaela will turn and Dance on the edge for herself and no one else. The Paper Man by Peter Orullian This was my favourite story of the first half of the anthology, perhaps because it appealed so much to the writer in me. Indeed, it may resonate more with writers than readers. Orullian takes a different angle on Stephen King’s Misery in making horror out of a writer’s life and struggle. Writing it is clear is a torture as sharp and piercing as a paper cut. Without quite plumbing the hobbling depths of King’s work there is something so apposite about an author with writer’s block being haunted by a blank sheet of paper. In this case the paper shapes itself into a curmudgeonly homunculous berating Orullian’s protagonist for his lack of productivity with the refrain You owe the paper. There are other lines to smile at as they batter against the fourth wall. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” A pithy saying to comfort those who detour past college to start life. Or Resting on his laurels, or maybe planting them was closer. And finally then I want to write, I need to write but what do I write?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Excellent anthology! Standouts for me were Terry Brooks, David Anthony Durham, Seanan McGuire, John Gwynne, Deborah A Wolf, Anna Stephens, Cat Rambo, Ken Scholes, Megan Lindholm, Scott Sigler, and Jason Denzel***** My Favorite One!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Funk

    I received an advance copy as part of the giveaway. I really wanted the book for the Wheel of Time short story, and it did not disappoint. I have not yet gotten to all of the other short stories, but I'm hopeful they'll get me interested in some of those series as well.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cerisa

    I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway and was very excited. I mostly wanted it for the Wheel of Time story, which was fantastic. The others I've read so far are also very good. Can't wait to read the rest

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hrishabh

    Honestly, I just picked this book to read more about The Wheel of Time. I have not read the rest of the stories in it. I loved the Perrin angle in the Ways and the entry of the Ogier was simply amazing. I understand why it wasn't there in the original books. Not going to reveal any more spoilers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    vaderbird

    NEW WHEEL OF TIME SHORT STORY! Problem with anthologies, I am not as invested with all the stories. I do recommend you read it, maybe find a new author, and there was some amazing stories. A standout unexpected to me was the story Sidekick! Did I mention a new WoT story!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jason Culpepper

    Wonderful collection of varied stories.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hallie

    The concept of a for-charity anthology with lots of big names is really cool, but they leaned a bit too heavily on "recognition" factor, in my opinion. Most of these stories are prequels, side stories, or snippets from established series, and since I had either not read or wasn't intensely familiar with most of them, they got to be boring and I frankly skimmed through most of the book. It did make the few standalone stories really pop, though, so those were nice! Some highlights: "Stripes in the The concept of a for-charity anthology with lots of big names is really cool, but they leaned a bit too heavily on "recognition" factor, in my opinion. Most of these stories are prequels, side stories, or snippets from established series, and since I had either not read or wasn't intensely familiar with most of them, they got to be boring and I frankly skimmed through most of the book. It did make the few standalone stories really pop, though, so those were nice! Some highlights: "Stripes in the Sunset", Seanan McGuire - This was the reason I bought the anthology, and McGuire doesn't disappoint in concept. Extinct animals start being born from their closely-related extant cousins, while human children stop being conceived at all; the message is one of the earth taking back from us what we've failed to fully appreciate. I enjoyed the detail of how deeply zookeepers care for their charges, despite the lack of any attempt to explain the story's premise beyond "wouldn't this be interesting". "All That Glitters", Marc Turner - This one was a fun adventure, and I actually feel like I'd be interested in these characters if they exist in a larger book. (Kind of a rarity in the anthology!) "Dancing on the Edge", Deborah A Wolf - I enjoyed the worldbuilding in this one a lot, even though it got a bit impenetrable at times. The character is also really thoroughly written, so I can absolutely see how this is the beginning to her story. Not sure whether the actual series is about her, but probably worth looking up. "How Not to Invade a Country", Anna Stephens - This one was funny, and didn't depend on knowing the world so it was entertaining on its own. "Merchants Have Maxims", Cat Rambo - It was hard to get into this one, but I ended up liking the narrative voice by the end. I don't know that it would interest me enough to look into the series it's from, but the worldbuilding is all solid and the plot was well-constructed, so maybe! "Second Chances", Megan Lindholm - Probably my favorite in the anthology, not least because it was the most unique and vivid. (Plus I'd just spent a weekend visiting my grandmother who watches HGTV 24/7, and Lindholm has the tone down *perfectly*). I enjoyed her take on the ghost, and on the regular person who just wants to do her job but ends up learning something important. "Sidekick", Carrie Vaughn - This one was cute, if a little densely written. I enjoyed that it's an "origin story" of the sidekick rather than of the hero. There were probably other good ones I happened to skim over, and several not-good ones I'm choosing not to get into (*cough*Allanon*cough*). In the end, though, I don't know that the anthology was worth the small-press price I paid, even though it is for charity.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tawnya Ashley

    Actual rating 3.29 The Heart Box 4 stars-odd, but really good Everybody Said It Would Hurt 3.5 stars-takes place a week after story in " Dangerous Women". A Thousand Years 4 stars-Viking adventure Among a Throng of Bilious Octogenarians 2.5 stars-had funny parts, but most of it was groan-worthy Blood of the Sardaukar 3 stars-"Dune" story. I don't care for war stories, so not something I would normally read. Allanon's Quest 3.5 stars-one day I will read the series Kneeling Before Jupiter 2 stars-definitely pre Actual rating 3.29 The Heart Box 4 stars-odd, but really good Everybody Said It Would Hurt 3.5 stars-takes place a week after story in " Dangerous Women". A Thousand Years 4 stars-Viking adventure Among a Throng of Bilious Octogenarians 2.5 stars-had funny parts, but most of it was groan-worthy Blood of the Sardaukar 3 stars-"Dune" story. I don't care for war stories, so not something I would normally read. Allanon's Quest 3.5 stars-one day I will read the series Kneeling Before Jupiter 2 stars-definitely prefer his other works. This was just a vamp tale. Stripes in the Sunset 4 stars-very cool story. It would be so awesome if it could happen in real life. All That Glitters 3.5 stars-I really want a different ending. The Heir Apparent 3 stars-I'm guessing I would not like the series. Dancing on the Edge 3 stars-sad, messed up story; but in the end she prevailed. Prologue: Second Book of The Evertide 3 stars-as it says, it is a prologue. It should not be in with short stories. Thasha's Cure for Cabin Fever 3 stars-weird, but interesting. How Not to Invade a Country 3.5 stars-somewhat a war story, so not my preferred genre. Still it was fun. The Paper Man 3 stars-just didn't like the story that much. Merchants Have Maxims 3.5 stars-surprising ending Of Anchor Chains and Slow Refrains and Light Long Lost in Darkness 4 stars-funny, somewhat sweet, & adventurous Second Chances 4 stars-ghost story The Hidden 2 stars-a disjointed mess. The Names are hard to keep track of and it seemed like three timelines were happening at once. I loved his book from the first collection, so this was surprising and disappointing. Throwdown 3 stars-messed up ending, but well-written. Sidekick 3.5 stars-it's almost something that Felicity on Arrow would have happen. Hawkeye 4.5 stars-poor birx. Good story. The Spectral Sword 3 stars-good story line that just stopped! UGH Gold Light 1.5 stars-from the author's foreword I had hoped to enjoy the story. Nope. Reminded me of Joyce Carol Oates. The Stone Golem of Qual'Jom 3.5 stars-sad story. Very little dialogue. A Fire within the Ways 4 stars-one of these days I'm going to have to try the series. Seven 3 stars-the beginning was slow, but it turned out to be a cool story-until the last page where it didn't feel like an end. The Fire-Risen Ash 4 stars-I love Shawn's work. I truly hope he writes the next book soon.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ty

    So many excellent authors and tales of magic. The intro story was quite good as a start to the collection with a bit of optimism that I hadn't expected given the subject matter. Given the title I suspected a bit of grunge music might come into play but I was wrong. Following that we have Lev returning us to the Magicians world with a short segue about Plum and her senior project. After that we have a nice mix of styles from writers I know and love and many from those I haven't read before which i So many excellent authors and tales of magic. The intro story was quite good as a start to the collection with a bit of optimism that I hadn't expected given the subject matter. Given the title I suspected a bit of grunge music might come into play but I was wrong. Following that we have Lev returning us to the Magicians world with a short segue about Plum and her senior project. After that we have a nice mix of styles from writers I know and love and many from those I haven't read before which is great. One of the reasons I like anthologies to introduce authors is the low investment in time and money to get a taste of whether you like their works or not. Shawn's tale provides a strong finish to the book like the peaty aftertaste of good dram of single malt scotch with Fire-Risen Ash and a return to the Knightly Mage and his friend Snedeker from Unfettered II. The tale has a Dr. Strange meets Lloyd Alexander in the Stardust movie vibe from this series which is full of good heart but real danger. Like Mr Rogers ran an Ars Magica/Mage game for adults with a ton of hope (sans the troll-fack of course). These days we need that heart and optimism or at least I do as it is too easy to let the ashterbach win but with the gift of each other's care and love we can triumph. Very much a worthwhile reading experience from the 'Masters of Fantasy'.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv Moté

    This review concerns "The Fire Within The Ways," the "deleted scene" from The Wheel of Time. I look forward to reading the other stories at a more leisurely pace, but this was the bit that drove my purchase. Like deleted scenes from movies, you probably have to be a true fan, or interested in the craft of editing, to enjoy cut chapters. I happen to be both. From a craft level, Brandon Sanderson's comments about the directionality of the story--forward or backward-looking--being the reason this wa This review concerns "The Fire Within The Ways," the "deleted scene" from The Wheel of Time. I look forward to reading the other stories at a more leisurely pace, but this was the bit that drove my purchase. Like deleted scenes from movies, you probably have to be a true fan, or interested in the craft of editing, to enjoy cut chapters. I happen to be both. From a craft level, Brandon Sanderson's comments about the directionality of the story--forward or backward-looking--being the reason this was cut was interesting. It's an exciting scene, filled with interesting details, but indeed, the outcome doesn't move the story towards the Last Battle. But as a fan, I want to know about The Ways and Machin Shin. I want to know if there is hope there, or does a seed of evil remain in a pocket dimension, like a pus-filled blister? And, of course, I'm excited to see Perrin grow. And I'm excited that... well, that would be a spoiler. This gives me that. I can fold it into my view of the world of The Wheel of Time, and how it has changed since The Last Battle. It's more fodder for daydreams. I loved it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather McLaughlin

    I really dislike that Goodreads doesn't have a specific category for DNF. This is a HUGE tome of a book and I had it the entire quarantine and it is finally due and I haven't finished it. But GRs options are: Leave as "currently reading" Remove it from my list entirely or Mark it as "read" even though I'm barely a third of the way through. Stupid. So I've marked it "read" and my own DNF category and off we go. I liked some of these but some were a real slog. And some authors just can't seem to make a I really dislike that Goodreads doesn't have a specific category for DNF. This is a HUGE tome of a book and I had it the entire quarantine and it is finally due and I haven't finished it. But GRs options are: Leave as "currently reading" Remove it from my list entirely or Mark it as "read" even though I'm barely a third of the way through. Stupid. So I've marked it "read" and my own DNF category and off we go. I liked some of these but some were a real slog. And some authors just can't seem to make a stand alone short story that you can follow along without having read their other works. I got it because it had a Seanan McGuire story and of course that was fabulous. Sidekick by Carrie Vaughn was also fun. Anyway, back to the library it goes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trung Nguyen

    Victim with a Capital V and The Stone Golem of Qual' Jom were awesome. Build up and suspense in Victim kept me engaged, while Golem kept me curious on what happens next and hopeful of the protagonist's development. Made me want the golem to act in a certain way but plot twist, it's immovable as stone, subverted my expectations, in a good way. The rest did not catch my attention very well. Perhaps due to rush hour traffic distracting from Audible, or perhaps the story and narrator melded together Victim with a Capital V and The Stone Golem of Qual' Jom were awesome. Build up and suspense in Victim kept me engaged, while Golem kept me curious on what happens next and hopeful of the protagonist's development. Made me want the golem to act in a certain way but plot twist, it's immovable as stone, subverted my expectations, in a good way. The rest did not catch my attention very well. Perhaps due to rush hour traffic distracting from Audible, or perhaps the story and narrator melded together harmoniously in a wonderful performance. Either way, Unfettered series is how I find new favorite narrators and authors.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tabitha Payton

    Thank you to Goodreads for sending me this book as part of the Firstreads program. Overall I gave this short story collection a 3 star rating as some stories were great, some stories were confusing and some stories I marked to read later as the authors noted they would be confusing if the previous works had not yet been read. I loved Shawn and Naomi's stories and thought they were so interesting but was not in love with some of the others. Still a great rating for me even though I'm not a huge fan Thank you to Goodreads for sending me this book as part of the Firstreads program. Overall I gave this short story collection a 3 star rating as some stories were great, some stories were confusing and some stories I marked to read later as the authors noted they would be confusing if the previous works had not yet been read. I loved Shawn and Naomi's stories and thought they were so interesting but was not in love with some of the others. Still a great rating for me even though I'm not a huge fan of short stories!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Another amazing collection of stories in this new anthology. I have loved all three volumes and discovered so many new authors to add to my "must read" list! I hope Shawn continues this series, not just for the amazing stories amassed in these collections but also for the good the series does for writers!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    This was a great book to keep in the bathroom. The stories were just the right length to take a short break or to care of business. I enjoyed the variety of sub genres and the voices of the many gendered authors. I only skipped two stories, so it was a good collection.

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