Friday, September 11, 2009

Imaginary Lands: a review

edited by Robin McKinley

This the second time I've read this anthology. Oddly enough, I think I liked it more this time around. There were still a few stories I wasn't as wild about. But "Flight" by Peter Dickinson, "The Old Woman and the Storm" by Patricia McKillip, and "The Stone Fey" by Robin McKinley herself were all, in my opinion, excellent. They were also, interestingly enough, the stories which I felt best fulfilled the stated mission of the book: "the stories...must have a particularly strong sense of location, of the imaginary land each was laid in."

Having just read Fire and Hemlock, Joan Vinge's "Tam Lin" provided an interesting counterpoint. Fire and Hemlock is still my favorite (although Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard comes in at a very close second). It may have something to do with the length--book length lets Diana Wynne Jones build up her characters much more effectively. But I think it's mostly that I prefer Fire and Hemlock's conclusion. While both are somewhat bittersweet--something lost and something gained--Fire and Hemlock felt both more real and more hopeful to me.

"Stranger Blood" by P.C. Hodgell was another of my favorites. Again, there was a strong sense of the land and culture as something both distinct and real.

All in all, I'd definitely recommend this anthology if you enjoy reading fantasy, especially fantasy set in a specific location.

Book source: Southern Oregon University library


Emera said...

Ooh, a McKinley collection I hadn't heard of! I have read The Stone Fey before, in the illustrated children's book edition, though I didn't get much out of it at the time that I read it.

This collection does sound marvelous, and anything that has a Tam Lin story in it, I need to give a try. :) Have you read Patricia McKillip's Winter Rose?

Hannah said...

I like Robin McKinley! My favorite is Beauty. I think I've read it about 4 times

MaureenE said...

Emera, it's not my favorite McKinley short story, but it's certainly decent.

I have read Winter Rose but it's been awhile and I had actually forgotten it was Tam Lin related. That story has been haunting me recently--I've read three separate retellings! (Fire and Hemlock, Tam Lin, and "Cotillion" in Firebirds.)

Hannah, Robin McKinley is one of my favorites! I'm not equally wild about all of her books and I'd say you probably wouldn't like Sunshine, but she's a great author.