Esther Freisner (editor)
Baen, Dec 7 2010, $12.00
This omnibus collection contains the frisky frolicking first three Chicks Amazonian anthology adventures. With a parry, lunge and tongue in cheek (that is the female warrior not turning the other cheek like in “The Old Grind” (Laura Frankos) but in the other’s cheek. Heroines are not afraid to fight in the MUD as George Alec Effinger affirms.
Chicks in Chainmail. These are the original twenty tales. Elizabeth Moon (she also contributes shorts to the other two collections) sets the tone with "And Ladies of the Club" as the king plans to tax bras while Janni Lee Simner answers with “Bra Melting”. Holly Lisle’s "Armor-Ella" stars six foot El and not so Prince Charming. Finally there is super mom at "Career Day" by Margaret Ball and a female guard protecting a brothel in "The Guardswoman" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (he also contributes short stories to the other two collections).
Did you say chicks?! The second Chicks warrior anthology contains nineteen entries including a Starhawk tale by Barbara Hambly. Harry Turtledove's contribution shows the importance of gender teamwork and a “valiant vanquished” in “The Attack of the Avenging Virgins” by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (she also contributes a short story in the first book) as women (virgins and veterans) kick all types of butt.
Chicks 'n chained Males. These sixteen contributions star women in shining armor (often less attire) who come to the aid of lads in distress. Susan Casper’s “Why Do You Think They call It Middle Earth” stars a fighting female taking on dragons and other ilk to save hapless men as does “Leg Irons, The Bitch and the Wardrobe” by Ms. Frankos.
Readers of both genders will appreciate this compilation, but I suggest reading the Chicks Ahoy saga over several months as the theme is singular skewering satires summed up by “A Bitch in Time” (Doranna Durgin). Harriet Klausner
Master of Smoke
Berkley, Jan 4 2011, $7.99
Five years ago, the dire wolf attacked Eva Roman. She survived but was never the same. Instead she taught herself to shapeshift and successfully concealed her condition from her parents and everyone else.
That anonymity ends when the comic bookstore employee saves a man from the assault of giant white dire wolf Warlock. The person she rescues suffers from amnesia as a consequence of Warlock using a spell to steal the victim’s magical power by splitting him into three essences. She names him David; neither is aware he is Smoke the demigod Sidhe warrior. If David fails to reunite his parts into Smoke, Warlock will prove too powerful to stop. Ergo were-hitmen try to kill David and Eva as the former struggles to regain his memory and the latter wonders how to have sex with the hunk without murderous chaperones interfering.
The latest Mageverse romantic urban fantasy (see Master of Fire) is a great entry that, in spite of its January release, will be considered one of the best sub-genre books of the year. The story line is loaded with action as hostilities grow and all out war between and even within species seem imminent. While the world teeters on the brink, Eva makes the tale as she brings a sort of New York shtick to the mix with her acerbic humorous asides and in your face commentary. With warlocks, were-mobsters, vampires, witches, and Camelot, fans will appreciate the comic bookstore employee who only blinks in bed with her amnesiac as she insists she has faced much worse with customers. Harriet Klausner