The Sword of Legend
One sword. The true sword. EXCALIBUR. Forged from magic and courage, it bears the power of heroes and kings. its nature is unique, but its forms are legion. It can appear...has appeared...will appear, anywhere, at any time, in a thousand hands in a thousand guises. For Excalibur is the force that protects the souls of Good's guardians, and changes the courses of destinies...
Legends of the Sword
Tales of the history and manifestations of Excalibur throughout time, gathered by three of the most experienced anthologists in the field and featuring: Esther M Friesner, Owl Goingback, Jody Lynn Nye, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Judith Tarr, Susan Shwartz, and many more.
My main reason for picking up this anthology is that there is a short story in it by Diana Gabaldon that I have never read before, so when I saw it at the library months ago I picked it up automatically. Then it sat here and I didn't read it, and in the end I took it back. Then one day I was checking the online catalogue, and found that this library had it as well so I borrowed it again. Now it is due back again, can't be extended anymore and I am determined that I am going to read it before I take it back again!
Because there are nearly 30 authors who have contributed either a short story or a poem to the anthology I am just going to list the authors and the title of their contribution below, and may include a short sentence or two of my thoughts.
The Question of the Sword by Jane Yolen - Poem
The God-Sword by Diana L Paxson - a story about the protector of the sword in late Roman times
Lassorio by Eric Lustbader - set 100 years after the death of King Arthur in bleak times. About the power of the sword to heal and change destinies.
Controlling the Sword by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - set around Regency times, about a young man of the ton who has been injured in one of the major battles. He comes home believing that he is the heir of his brother's estate, and therefore has become a Lord, but all that changes when he finds out that his brother had married in secret and had a child, and that he is now the guardian. The sword above the mantel of the family home has a curse - anyone not able to control it will be crippled for the rest of his days. So what happens when the boy touches it.
Surgeon's Steel by Diana Gabaldon - Jamie lies injured after a battle and Claire has to defend him using his sword from scavengers. His hand has been injured again and Claire has to perform surgery on him. What I haven't quite figured out in my mind is exactly where this story was set in terms of the Outlander books - whether it has already happened before we get to A Breath of Snow and Ashes, or if it is still to happen. Part of the reason it is confusing to me is because it talks about the surgery, and it is something that I don't remember being mentioned in the other books. It was nice to get a new little glimpse into Jamie and Claire's world though! After asking a few questions around the place it turns out that the events in this story, actually happen after the close of the last Outlander book which was A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Prayer of the Knight of the Sword by Nancy Holder - a young Crusader finds a young lady who is distressed on the streets of Jerusalem and despite King Richard's edict that none of the infidels is to be spared saves her life. He comes to the notice of the four Queens and becomes the Knight of the Sword. Really liked this one.
Echoes of the One Sword by T. Winter-Damon - poem
Grass Dance by Owl Goingback - set in the Vietnam war and featuring a Native American soldier, whose young brother at home is disabled.
All We Know of Heaven by Peter Crowther - A young boy whose mother has been critically injured in a car accident gets his first exposure to the story of King Arthur and Excalibur.
Passing by Charles de Lint - One of the other authors I have previously read, this story was not at all what I was expecting. A journalist becomes involved with a lesbian community, and meets a woman who claims to be a modern day Lady of the Sword. In order for the Lady to be set free, her sword has to be sheathed in someone willingly.
Nights of the Round Table by Lawrence Schimel - poem
Here There Be Dragons? by Marion Zimmer Bradley - a magician arrives at a pub, and is asked by the townspeople to go into the strange world beyond their world. The magician must decide what action to take when he meets a mystical creature.
Goldie, Lox, and the Three Excalibearers by Esther M Friesner - What happens when Merlin and Morgan Le Fey go searching for the latest Lady of the Sword in a Brooklyn delicatessen. Very amusing story! I was so engrossed in it that I missed my train station and had to go to the next stop and catch the train back again! Not often that that happens to me!
Silver, Stone, and Steel by Judith Tarr - a story that traces the very origins of the sword, back to the time of the death of Jesus Christ. Tarr is the other author that I have read previously
St. Paul's Churchyard, New Year's Day by Richard Lee Byers - a young squire is searching for a new sword for his foster brother and knight, when he comes across the legendary sword and has to decide whether to try to remove it from the stone or not.
The Other Scabbard by Brad Linaweaver - Where there is Excalibur, there must be the Anti-Excalibur, although Merlin is one of the few who knows of the existence of the second sword.
Hope's Edge by Daniel H Scheltema - poem
The Waking Dream by J M Morgan - A young man, confined to a wheelchair, is given the chance to experience walking, running, riding a horse and loving a beautiful woman. But is it real or not?
The Scout, the Slugger and the Stripper by Randy Miller - The sword in this case is a baseball bat. A jaded talent scout comes across a young baseballer who is going to go all the way...unless he gets distracted by the beautiful woman he has become entangled with.
The Weapon by Ardath Mayhar - A shopping centre architect is excavating a new site when they come across a magical sword, and he is then transported back in time to a different era.
The Sword in the Net by Brad Strickland - Merlin is a computer, the Roundtable is a modem and Arthur is a computer hacker!
Once and Future by Terry Tappouni - poem
Once and Future by Mercedes Lackey - Sacked dock worker Michael O'Murphy wakes up with the mother of all hangovers, and a sword sharing his bed. Now he just has to work out what happened! And if the signs are right and he is one of the chosen, can the stumbling block of his less than salubrious past be surpassed? Mercedes Lackey is an author that I have been meaning to read for a while, and this story was not what I was suspecting at all!
Sword Practice by Jody Lynn Nye - A 12 year old Arthur has to learn to be wise, both when he is wearing Excalibur, and when he is acting on his own as the new High King, especially when he has to pass judgement on some of the kings who now swear their allegiance to him.
Where Bestowed by Susan Dexter - One of Arthur's knights named Kernan tries to dredge the lake to see if he can find the sword Excalibur. The outcome is a complete change of his life circumstances.
Demon Sword by Bill Fawcett - What if Morgana was the good guy and Arthur was the evil guy. She must try to get hold of the sword that gives him power...any way she can.
Troubled Waters by Susan Shwartz - Lancelot's foster mother who is a Lady of the Lake, grieves when she hear about all that is going on in Camelot...to the point of trying to take matters into her own hands, even though that will cause her to become the enemy of Morgana.
Literary Cubism Saves the Universe by Joe Haldeman - poem
Duty by Gary Gygax - Told from the perspective of Excalibur itself, as if it had a personality of it's own.
The Epilogue of the Sword by Darrell Schweitzer - A monk is drawn to perform miracles, and to reveal his true identity. He must then decide what his future holds - being a king, or becoming more committed to the church.
Of these authors I have only read 3 before so it was a good way to get exposure to new authors. There are a couple that I will definitely try again. I probably should have tried to spread these short stories out over a longer period, but for the most part they were entertaining. Won't be too bothered if I don't read about another character called Arthur for a while though!